4 Important Things to Know about Subsidence and its Coverage by Home Insurance
When it’s about home insurance, a major factor to consider is subsidence because it’s one of the decisive factors of whether an insurer will approve your application and what the cost of the insurance will be.
1. What is Subsidence?
When the foundation of a home sinks or collapses, it’s known as subsidence.
The causes of subsidence include:
- Swelling and shrinking of soil, typically clay, due to weather
- Leaking drains that soften the ground underneath your home
- Trees and shrubs near the home that absorb moisture in the soil underneath your house
2. Signs of Subsidence
Following are the signs of subsidence:
- Windows and doors sticking for no obvious reason
- Abrupt cracks in brickwork and plaster that are broader at the top than at the bottom
- Heaving wallpaper that isn’t resulted from damp
Cracks occur due to various reasons. You should first make sure if it’s because of subsidence if there is any. If it’s due to subsidence, it will be:
- Over 3mm thick – usually getting broader over time
- Close to windows and doors
- Visible from inside as well as outside of the home
- Wider at the top than at the bottom
3. Does Your Home Insurance Cover Subsidence?
Whether subsidence will be covered by a home insurance policy depends on your particular insurer. However, most home insurers offer cover for the damage resulted from subsidence, though the excess is usually larger.
Buildings insurance policies typically cover only subsidence damage to the house itself. Thus, areas like garden walls, patios, swimming pools and driveways aren’t often covered unless your house has undergone damage at the same time.
If you’ve earlier made a claim for subsidence and now planning to switch your provider, several new insurers may possibly decline you.
You can get further practical advice and recommendation for a specialist from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors if you suspect that your home is at risk of subsidence.
Factors affecting your risk of subsidence include clay soil, trees and shrubs, draught, leaking drains, old homes and underpinning.
4. Can I Minimise the Risk of Subsidence?
By taking the following precautions, it’s possible for you to minimise the risk of subsidence:
- Plant trees and shrubs at least 5 to 10 metres away from your home
- Regularly prune the branches of trees
- Make sure you keep your pipes and drainage systems well-maintained to avoid water leaking into soil underneath your home
- Before buying a new home, check if the surveyor’s report mentions any signs of subsidence
Keep an eye on the signs of subsidence and take precautionary measures well in advance to avoid the damage or to get compensated for it.