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Subsidence: What Is It and How Does It Affect My Home?

September 14, 2023
Home insurance

Subsidence - the very word strikes fear into the hearts of homeowners. It's the slow, creeping menace that can undermine the very foundations of your home, leaving it vulnerable to collapse. But what exactly is subsidence, how does it impact your home insurance and where are the high-risk areas?

Map of UK showing high risk subsidence areas

What is subsidence?

It is the sinking or settling of the ground beneath your home and can happen for a variety of reasons. If the soil has become too dry, or perhaps there's a water leak underground that's causing the ground to shift. This can lead to serious damage to your home, including cracks in the walls, foundations, or even in complete structural failure. 

Over the years, subsidence claims have risen. This is attributed to hot and dry weather, urbanisation in high-risk areas, and climate change. A recent report by the UK's Committee on Climate Change warned that subsidence is likely to become more and more common in the next few years.  

How does it affect my home and home insurance?

The impact of subsidence can be devastating for homeowners, causing cracks in walls, sinking or tilted floors, and other structural damage. Repairing such damage can be expensive and may lead to higher insurance premiums. In some cases, insurers may even refuse to provide cover for properties in high-risk areas. 

Unfortunately, in the past two years, subsidence issues have only worsened. According to recent reports with the ABI, insurers are expected to pay out a sum of £219 million in 2023.

To protect their homes from the risks of subsidence, homeowners are advised to take preventative measures. This includes:

  • Maintaining good drainage systems,
  • Avoiding planting trees with deep tree roots close to your property
  • Regularly monitoring for signs of subsidence. 

Insurers are also using technology to detect and monitor subsidence risks. Some insurers are using satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to identify properties at risk and offer targeted advice to homeowners. This proactive approach can help homeowners take preventative measures before damage occurs. 

What areas in the UK are at high risk of subsidence?

Certain regions in the UK are more prone to subsidence because of the soil and geology. These areas are identified as higher risk. The areas most at risk include London, Oxford, Essex and Kent.

It is important to remember that subsidence can happen in any part of the UK. This is due to local conditions and circumstances, even if certain areas are more vulnerable.

In conclusion, there are many steps you can take to protect your home from the effects of subsidence. By taking preventative measures and ensuring adequate insurance home insurance coverage, homeowners can safeguard their properties and their financial well-being.

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