- Hot summers mean more homes will suffer from problems caused by subsidence.
- Approximately 23,000 claims were made in 2018, valued at £145 million.
- Most of the cases are due to the drying of the soil with a long absence of rain.
- Telltale signs include cracks around window and door frames and sloping floors.
A record number of homeowners are expected to file drawdown claims with insurance companies this year.
Experts say hot, dry summers could cause thousands of homes to face subsidence problems.
This year is likely to beat 2018’s record of 23,000 £145m claims.
The total number of claims for subsidence insurance this year is likely to surpass the 2018 record of 23,000 claims worth £145m.
Insurance giant LV= recorded a 205 percent jump in claims between June and July, while other firms report a five-fold increase in claims.
Subsidence strikes fear into many homeowners. Most of the cases are due to the drying of the soil with a long absence of rain.
Subsidence can reduce property values by as much as 20 percent. Lenders are often reluctant to offer a mortgage until it has been resolved.
Most home insurance policies cover drawdown, but firms will ask new customers if this has been a problem in the past. If there are problems, some insurers will refuse coverage.
Other firms may charge higher premiums to cover these homes, or charge higher premiums of around £1,000 for homes that have sagged in the past.
Subsidence occurs when the ground beneath a building sinks, and with it the foundation of the building sinks.
Telltale signs include diagonal cracks around window and door frames, and sloping floors. Homes built on clay soil are especially at risk because the clay expands in wet weather and contracts when conditions dry out again.
These soils are common in London and the South East, where homes are most commonly affected.
This year, England recorded the driest July since 1935, and insurers are responding to a flood of inquiries.
Last month, claims adjuster Sedgwick recorded a 480 per cent increase in drawdown claims in the UK compared to last year. Claim adjusters are professionals tasked with assessing the cost of damages.
Causes: Settling occurs when the ground beneath a building settles, and with it the foundation of the building sinks.
James Preston, the firm’s technical director, says: “The extremely dry weather we’ve had this year has left very little moisture in the soil.”
Salmon Assessors spokesman Jeremy Rollinson, an insurance claims negotiator, says drawdown claims have doubled since the summer. “After a long dry period and extreme heat, the number of applications has increased dramatically,” he says.
Richard Hazelgrove is alarmed that cracks have appeared in his mansion in Fairham, Hampshire since the summer.
“Everywhere you look, there are cracks everywhere, it’s really disturbing.
“They are around every window in the house and most of the doors don’t close properly, including those that lead to the patio,” says the 64-year-old.
During the summer, cracks appeared both inside and outside the house, Richard says, but they continued to widen after recent rainstorms and are now 5 to 6mm wide.
Richard has contacted his insurance company as he believes his home is built on clay soil and needs a foundation, but has yet to hear back.
Cracks can appear quickly, but no repair work can begin until the root cause of the subsidence is identified. It could take at least six months to investigate and fully diagnose, Rollinson warns.
Heat Wave: People cool off in the sea at Brighton in July. Experts say the hot, dry summer could cause thousands more homes to face subsidence problems.
“You have to use lasers to track which direction an object is sinking over time. Only then can it be stabilized.
“After that, we recommend waiting another five to six months to make sure everything is done right before repairs are done inside the house.”
Tree roots are a common cause as they tend to draw moisture from the soil underneath the house.
Leaks from the sewer or plumbing are another matter – they will soften the soil or wash it away.
Victorian and Edwardian structures are also more at risk of subsidence because their foundations are less deep than more modern structures.
According to Mr Preston of Sedgwick, about 35 percent of drawdown claims filed this time of year will be rejected.
One of the most common excuses insurers use to dismiss a claim is that the damage was caused by something else, such as wear and tear or poor construction.
Disputes can also arise if subsidence is discovered shortly after the homeowner has switched to a new home insurance policy.
Surge: Insurance giant LV= recorded a 205% jump in claims between June and July, while other firms report a five-fold increase in claims.
The trade body of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has an agreement designed to address this issue. For example, if a drawdown is discovered less than eight weeks after someone changed service provider, the previous firm will handle the claim.
Both insurers will share the costs if a claim is filed between eight weeks and a year under a new policy. But some cases drag on for years due to disputes between firms.
Roger Flaxman of insurance claims firm Flaxman Partners says: “These cases can be similar to flood claims in that they can be complex, time consuming and the most extreme claims can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. .
“I had one case where a property had to be demolished 14 years after the first claim was filed because the insurers argued for too long what to do with the case.”
Kate Pomfret, a consulting manager, has spent the last five years arguing with…
Credit: www.thisismoney.co.uk /