Find out how to determine whether or not your home is at risk of subsidence and how this could impact your homeowner’s insurance coverage.
What exactly is the subsidence?
When the foundation of your home crumbles or sinks, this is referred to as subsidence.
This is frequently brought on by:
The soil, which is typically clay, contracting and expanding as a result of the weather.
Your property could benefit from the nearby trees and shrubs’ ability to draw moisture out of the ground below it.
The earth beneath your house is becoming more malleable as a result of leaking drains.
It is possible for it to have an effect on the value of your property and for it to significantly raise the cost of your homeowner’s insurance.
In this section, we will discuss how to recognise, prevent, and insure against subsidence.
What are the indications that the land is sinking?
If you notice any of the following symptoms on your property, there is a possibility that your home is experiencing subsidence:
Cracks that appear out of nowhere in plaster and brickwork, and which are wider at the top than they are at the bottom.
Doors and windows that won’t open for no apparent reason
Wallpaper that has ripples but is not wrinkling as a result of dampness
It is essential to keep in mind that cracks in walls can emerge for a variety of reasons, so the discovery of one may not necessarily call for immediate alarm. Walls may develop cracks as a result of “settlement,” which refers to the process in which a structure sinks because of the weight it bears. This is something that may frequently be observed in freshly built homes as well as additions.
When subsidence is the cause of a crack, the crack will be:
greater than 3 millimetres in thickness, typically growing broader over time
The top is significantly wider than the bottom.
Easily observable from both the interior and exterior of your home
In close proximity to entryways and windows
Does homeowner’s insurance cover damage caused by subsidence?
The policies of various house insurance companies have varying terms and restrictions regarding subsidence.
The majority of homeowners’ insurance policies, including all of those that are featured in our table of the best and worst providers, include coverage for subsidence damage as standard, typically with a deductible of $1,000.
The majority of homeowner’s insurance plans will cover subsidence damage to your home, however many of these policies will not cover damage to neighbouring areas such as patios, garden walls, driveways, or swimming pools unless the primary residence is also impacted.
And even though protection against subsidence is included in the majority of insurance policies, if your home has been damaged by subsidence in the past, you can have a harder time finding an insurer who will take you on as a client.
Consider working with a specialised broker if you are unable to find an insurer that will provide coverage for you on terms that are within your price range.
If you feel that your property has subsidence, you should contact the British Insurance Brokers Association so that they can give you with more useful advice and recommend an expert.
Is there a chance that my house will sink into the ground?
The following are some of the factors that can affect your risk of subsidence:
Subsidence is a very real concern for buildings constructed on clay soil because of the high moisture content. Clay soil has a tendency to contract, crack, and move during periods of hot, dry weather. This can cause the earth to become unstable, which could cause the foundations of your property to sink.
Because of the increased likelihood that the soil would dry up, homes in regions that are prone to drought are particularly at danger of subsidence.
Plants like trees and shrubs
The presence of trees and plants close to your house raises the possibility of sinking. Some plant species have a far higher water absorption rate, which results in significantly drier soil.
As a result of their foundations being lower than the one-meter minimum standard that is currently in place in the UK, Victorian and Edwardian homes are more likely to be affected by subsidence. Because of this, they are more likely to sustain damage from any movements that occur in the earth.
If you have leaking drains or water mains, this might raise your risk of subsidence since they can wash away or soften the soil, which can then cause it to compact beneath the weight of your property over time.
Properties that have had their foundations underpinned are more likely to have suffered from subsidence in the past and are consequently at a greater risk.
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Is it possible for me to lessen the possibility of subsidence?
You can lessen the likelihood of subsidence occurring on your property by taking the following precautions:
Make it a point to plant trees and bushes at a distance of at least five to ten metres from your house.
Maintain a regular pruning schedule for the branches on your trees.
It is important to perform regular maintenance on your plumbing and drainage systems to prevent water from seeping into the ground beneath your home.
Prior to purchasing a new house, it is important to examine the surveyor’s report for any indications of subsidence.
We have compiled a reference to the various levels of home surveys that are available to prospective buyers, including estimated prices, a sample report, and the accreditations that prospective buyers should seek for.
Subsidence: your questions answered
Is there a solution for the subsidence?
Underpinning, which refers to the act of strengthening the foundation of a property, is frequently used as a method for correcting subsidence.
The majority of home insurance providers provide coverage for damage caused by subsidence; however, this coverage typically comes with a significant deductible, typically in the range of $1,000.
If your property has previously been affected by subsidence, the likelihood of it occurring again is increased.
Which trees are responsible for the subsidence?
Some tree species are more likely to cause difficulties than others, even though all trees have the potential to put your house at danger of sinking.
Subsidence is significantly more likely to occur if you have trees on your property that have long, fine root structures. Poplars, willows, and oaks are examples of such trees.
Heave is a term for what?
A building may experience heave if the earth beneath it becomes saturated with water and begins to swell, causing the building to move upwards and frequently sideways.
This can create damage that is comparable to that which is caused by subsidence, and it is frequently covered by the same insurance requirements.
How can I stake a claim on something?
Should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to file a claim on your homeowner’s insurance policy due to subsidence, there are steps you can do to ensure that the procedure goes off without a hitch.
Our guide on filing a claim for homeowners insurance will provide you with all the information you require concerning the management of the claims procedure as well as which homeowners insurance providers stand out from the competition when the going gets tough.
How can I go about appealing a decision made by an insurer?
Do not be hesitant to file a complaint with your flood insurer if you feel as though you have been treated unfairly after making a claim for flood damage.
Talk to your insurance provider first, but if that doesn’t help (and you’ve gone through all of the steps in the complaints procedure), take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.