Residence insurance and housing profit – what it is advisable to know – Night Commonplace


Wear and tear can be a nightmare for homeowners. It not only affects the structural safety of the property itself, but can also have a major impact on the property's market value.

Because of this, it is important that you have the right insurance and know what to do if your property is affected by subsidence.

What is subsidence?

Settlement occurs when the ground begins to sink under a building. This will put pressure on the building's foundations, causing cracks in the walls.

Subsidence can occur when the soil loses moisture and shrinks, for example after prolonged dry periods or when the vegetation withdraws large amounts of water from the soil. The dry soil becomes unstable and can no longer support the property and its foundations.

The areas most at risk include regions with a high proportion of clay in the soil, such as the southeast. Clay soils tend to shrink more in the event of prolonged heat and drought – and the south-east has also been hardest hit by a lack of precipitation in recent years.

Buildings with shallow foundations can also be more susceptible to subsidence, as can those with trees or large shrubs in the immediate vicinity of the property. Houses built near former mines or quarries can also be unstable as the material used to fill the sites shifts as it decomposes.

With land there is also the risk of "lifting", i. H. when the soil swells, usually due to excess water in the soil due to flooding or the removal of trees and other vegetation. This can affect the foundations and structure of the building and lead to settlement damage.

What are the warning signs of subsidence?

Cracks in the walls are the most obvious sign of subsidence and uplift. These usually appear around doors and windows and can spread quickly. Cracks typically run diagonally, wider at the top than the bottom, and thicker than a 10 pence coin.

These dimensions are important because not all cracks are due to subsidence and uplift. In new buildings and extensions, cracks often occur when the structures settle under their own weight. In this case, cracks tend to be uniform in width and narrower than 3 mm.

Other signs of sagging or lifting include:

  • Gluing of doors and windows by warping the frame
  • Wallpaper cracks or kinks in the wall and ceiling joints
  • Cracks where an extension joined your main house.

Is the home insurance covered by the home insurance?

Most homeowners insurance covers damage caused by subsidence or tremors to the fabric of your property. However, it does so provided that your home has not suffered from subsidence in the past.

In addition, many home insurance companies will cover alternative accommodation costs if your home is temporarily uninhabitable during the repairs.

It should be noted, however, that the deductible (the amount that is deducted from any damage payment) for settlement or uplift damage is usually higher than for most other claims.

For example, the deductible for a standard home insurance claim can be £ 200, while the deductible for a settlement or uplift claim can be £ 1,000 or more.

Are there any exclusions?

Buildings insurance usually does not cover the costs of preventing subsidence or uplift. Most also rule out harm caused by one or the other if it involves:

  • Garden walls
  • Fences and gates
  • Terraces and driveways

The only exception is if the main residence is damaged at the same time.

Outbuildings and garages may also not be insured depending on whether the insurer sees them as part of the home. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) recommends contacting your home insurance provider to find out exactly what is covered in your policy and how much deductible you need to pay.

What Should You Do If Your Home Has Subsidence?

If you suspect your property has sunk, contact your insurer as soon as possible. You will be advised on what to do next, but often a surveyor will be dispatched to investigate the damage to your home and determine the cause.

Usually, if the damage is minor and your home has stopped moving, the repair will be done immediately. However, if the situation is more severe and the problem persists, the surveyor can monitor the movement of your home for an extended period of time to come up with a long-term solution.

In the worst case of subsidence or uplift, your house may need to be reinforced. Here the foundations of the building are reinforced or deepened to make it more stable and to prevent further subsidence. The cost is typically thousands of pounds.

Protection after a claim

If you have taken out your home insurance due to settlement or fall, the cost of the future premiums along with the deductible is expected to increase significantly.

The good news, however, is that the insurer handling the damage should, in most cases, still provide coverage – as long as the repairs have been completed and carried out under the insurer's direction.

In situations where it is difficult to find affordable insurance coverage or your insurer refuses to continue insurance, it makes sense to turn to a specialist broker. You can do this by contacting the British Insurance Brokers ’Association for advice on a broker who can help you.

What happens if you change insurer?

If you change insurers and then discover that your property has been damaged by lifting or settlement, it may become unclear which insurer is responsible for processing the claim – your previous or your current insurer.

In order to deal with such situations, the Association of British Insurers has entered into a Claims Handling Agreement which states that the date of notification:

  • Your previous insurer will process your claim within eight weeks of the change in insurance.
  • Between eight weeks and one year after the change of provider, your previous and current insurer will share the costs of the claim.
  • More than a year after you changed insurer, your current insurer will process your claim.

What if you sell your home?

If you are planning to sell your home, it is best to speak to your insurer. Many insurers will agree to continue to insure the property for the new owners.

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