What is Subsidence? – frequently asked questions

Subsidence is a downward movement of the ground supporting a building.

In insurance terms this is generally defined as downward movement of the ground on which the premises stands excluding

 – the normal settlement or bedding down of the structure

 – settlement or movement of made up ground

 – coastal or river erosion

 – damage that originated prior to the inception of the cover


Causes of subsidence

Although there are many factors the predominant three are:

 – Soil – clay soil is particularly susceptible since it shrinks and swells according to it’s moisture content,

 – Trees and vegetation – trees and shrubs extract water from the soil, in clay soil this is more pronounced and in long dry spells it will not only shrink the clay but roots will expand to search for water

 – Leaking Drains – damaged drains can cause the the ground to gradually wash away under the foundations of the property


What to look out for

The first signs are usually cracks which appear, these are usually diagonal cracks that appear inside and outside at the structure’s weak points – usually doors and windows, with the top larger than the base.

Not all cracks mean subsidence, fine cracks on relatively new buildings may just be settlement and on newly plastered walls fine cracks can occur as the plaster drys out.

What will insurers do once you have notified them of a claim?

Insurers will appoint a surveyor who will try to establish the cause of the movement. This means that they will measure the movement of the cracks, check soil and vegetation in the surrounding area and decide on the best course of action to be taken. Once the cause has been identified and dealt with insures will then deal with the repairs. This can take all long time certainly several months if not over a year.

As specialist insurance brokers, we can help to arrange relevant cover in any of the following circumstances – alternatively simply call us on 0207 929 0108 for advice:

For insurance of homes with previous signs of subsidence

For insurance of homes with signs of movement

For insurance with adverse claims history