A Cracking Summer: Subsidence Claims On The Rise

Posted in General Household Home Insurance, Insurance for Landlords, Insurance for unoccupied property, Insurance for UK holiday home, reasons to have home insurance on 23 January 2019

The UK could see a surge in subsidence claims due to the long, dry and very hot summer in 2018.

Between the months of April until September 2018, the UK saw daily temperatures of over 20 degrees centigrade and sometimes even touching as high as the early 30s. Great for the sunseekers but not so great for our properties as the Financial Times claim other spells of particularly hot weather in 2003 and 2006 led to a spike in subsidence claims.

Subsidence has become a bit of a forgotten peril when it comes to protecting our homes, with other more common perils taking priority such as flooding, theft and fire, however, subsidence is something homeowners should be more conscious of as the month of June saw virtually no rainfall and it was actually the lowest amount on record since 1925. This has the impact on soils of drying out the moisture with a range of issues including causing shrinkage, soil instability and cracking to properties. This can lead to an uneven movement in the ground under a property and can cause it to sink lower or even collapse!

GE Plus, who specialise in ground engineering news, state that although temperatures have now fallen, the damage from the summer is long lasting. The Daily Telegraph adds that in 2017 there were around 12,000 insurance claims for subsidence but this year that figure could more than quadruple as between July 2018 and September 2018 alone, insurers have already received over 10,000 claims with pay-outs totalling £64 million pounds, more than five times higher than a typical 3 month period.

Extreme weather has also prompted a surge in household claims earlier last year due to the infamous ‘Beast from the East’ cold spell resulting to over £194 million worth of damage to properties because of frozen pipes and flooding.

Evidence of subsidence doesn’t usually emerge until months after the spell of dry weather, so homeowners should remain vigilant in monitoring any cracks that appear in walls. During the Winter when there is frequent rainfall, any cracks may start to close but they will return in the next instance of hot weather, so detecting these issues fast is key to minimising any long-lasting damage to the property.

As previously stated, while subsidence can take months, even years to become obvious, there are measures you can take to reduce the likelihood of being affected. It’s a good idea to:

  • Remove or regularly maintain any trees and bushes planted near the property. Trees can be a common cause of subsidence as the roots tend to withdraw moisture from the soil which can support the foundations at a property. Regular maintenance could limit growth and the search for water.
  • Regular inspections of your property, specifically your guttering, pipes and drainage systems to check for any blockages or leaks. Read our article on how to do this here.

How to tell if your property has subsidence

The Guardian describes a crack caused by subsidence is likely to have the following characteristics:

  • A large diagonal crack which will be wider at the top than the bottom
  • Cracks that are thicker than the edge of a 10p coin (3mm)
  • Cracks that are visible both internally and externally but are quite often found close to doors and windows.
  • Doors and windows will be increasingly difficult to open

Don’t forget your InsuraHome Home Insurance

At InsuraHome Home Insurance, we understand how important it is to guard your home from the unexpected. When it comes to protecting your buildings, contents or both, especially with this cold, wintery weather, read our tips on getting your property winter ready here.

This article is for information and entertainment purposes only. It does not constitute advice in any way. The information provided here is correct at the time of writing however please check the latest policy wording here for the latest policy terms, conditions and exclusions.

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