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Subsidence Claims

Subsidence can be classified as the downward movement of the ground beneath a building's foundations. It can be caused by a number of factors, which become more or less likely based on your geographical location. Regardless of what type of subsidence you encounter, finding that it is affecting your home can be extremely disconcerting (for you and your house insurance subsidence prospects).

If you discover signs of subsidence, the first thing you should do is call your insurer. Acting quickly can allow you the opportunity to take preventative measures, possibly avoiding the costly and disruptive process of underpinning as long as you act in time.

Indicators of subsidence are often easily noticeable. Subsidence related cracks appear both internally and externally. They will often be tapered diagonally across walls and will expand over time without closing up again on their own (while non-subsidence related cracks typically will). Often, subsidence cracks will originate from window and door frames. Other indications can be found when windows and doors stick for no apparent reason, or when wall paper begins to ripple. If you observe any of these indications, you should contact your subsidence house insurance provider immediately.

Once you have informed your insurer about any potential subsidence issues, they will likely put you in contact with a loss adjuster. A loss adjuster will probably attend you at your home to assess your case, at which point they may need to refer to other specialist contractors for advice. The diagnosis process can take some time to complete and further monitoring of symptoms over an extended period may be required. It can take several months of observation before cracks can be defined as either benign or malignant, though in some more severe cases it may be obvious much sooner.

If subsidence has been diagnosed as the cause of your problems then there are a number of possible outcomes. In the most severe cases, you will need to have underpinning work carried out. This type of repair will usually prevent further movement of the foundations from occurring, but it is very costly and extremely inconvenient. An underpinning job can cost anything from £5,000 to £50,000, depending on both the size of your property and the nature/extent of any damage caused. Estimates vary, but it is thought as little as 10% of properties diagnosed with subsidence will require subsequent underpinning.

Every other possible measure should be taken to tackle subsidence before underpinning is attempted (according to the Institute of Structural Engineers). In cases of subsidence caused or exacerbated by tree root damage this might involve tree management solutions such as pollarding, root control or removal (where applicable). It is vital that arboriculturist advice is sought whenever tree management is required, as mismanagement could be counterproductive and may even lead to more severe problems like heave (the upward movement of ground beneath foundations). Because drain leakage can cause some types of subsidence, a CCTV drain survey may also be required.

After you have had a subsidence issue with your home, it may be difficult to find buildings insurance with subsidence cover. This is often the case, even long after you have had a problem put right. Currently, evidence as to whether subsidence is more or less likely to occur after underpinning is not readily available, so insurers tend to err on the side of caution. This is bad news for people with previous house insurance subsidence claims. It isn't all bad news though, as there are a number of specialist non-standard insurers who are able to offer competitive quotes for subsidence house insurance.

The information supplied on this page is by a third party and jml Property Services do not take any responsibility to its accuracy ©jmlpropertyservices07/11

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See also:

Potential Subsidence Problems in the UK in 2012 - March 2012

Subsidence Property Insurance - a letter from a client - July 2011

Subsidence and underpinned insurance - Help is here - October 2010

Subsidence Insurance Problem near possible flood area - Blog September 10

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