The first 6 months of this year were the driest for 80 years. This will no doubt lead to more home insurance subsidence claims but are you sure you are covered?
Subsidence occurs when hot weather causes the ground beneath a property to dry out and become unstable; homes with trees nearby are more at risk of subsidence as roots grow in search of water during dry spells, taking moisture from the soil.moneysupermarket.com analysed standard tandard policies from top home insurance providers.
It found that while buildings insurance policies are available from as little as £74 a year for a three bedroom semi detached property, if you are wanting to buy home insurance you need to be aware of caveats in the small print that relate to subsidence.For example external areas of a property, such as driveways, patios, fences and gates, may not be covered against the effects of subsidence. Also, many providers include exclusion for incidents relating to coastal or riverbank erosion for example.
Jill Owens head of home insurance at moneysupermarket.com, said “Brits should definitely be on the lookout for tell-tale subsidence signs. It is vital homeowners ensure they have adequate buildings insurance against subsidence; for anyone who is unsure it is important to scour the small print to see exactly what is covered as exclusions and caveats are commonplace.”
She added “The most common sign of subsidence is cracks appearing in a wall, especially around the door and window frames. However, homeowners or buyers should only be alarmed when cracks are wider than a 10p coin, or where the cracks are wider at the top than at the bottom; in those cases though they should alert their insurer immediately to assess the situation.
Failing to protect your property adequately is simply not worth the potential costs of damage.”
Points to consider if you believe your property has subsidence:
- With a crack in a wall being a most common sign of subsidence, be prepared for an insurance company to confirm this as they will want to monitor over time and inspect regularly
- Damaged or leaking drains should be repaired
- Trees near a property should be regularly pruned
- If underpinning is an option (pouring concrete into the foundations), make sure this is done by a reputable building company
- Keep all receipts and certificates relating to work done on your property to tackle subsidence
- If you are buying a house, check carefully for any evidence of subsidence. The Land Registry will be show whether houses in the area have aready been or are likely to be affected by subsidence.”
If your property does suffer a subsidence issue, it is possible that your current home insurer will not re-insure you. If this is the case a specialist insurer may be able to help or you can get advice from an insurance broker.