Buildings Subsidence Insurance

Subsidence house insurance for properties that have suffered from landslip or heave, Building's cover for Subsidence

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Guide To Subsidence Buildings Insurance

By Eamonn Turley
Eamonn Turley Insurance Expert

Eamonn Turley has a wealth of experience within different insurance sectors. Through hard work and over time, he has gained expertise in digital marketing and user interface design. Elements that are crucial to any successful online business. The key aim is to develop websites that are intuitive, fast to load and provide insurance quotes tailored to your needs.

Expertise: Digital Marketing, Insurance, Home Insurance, Vehicle Insurance, UI Design
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July 2023

Subsidence is a fairly common with the UK, with South East of England being a hotspot as many properties are built on clay soil. Houses susceptible to subsidence sometimes only come to light in hot summers, as happened in 2018. If you are a house buyer you just need to be aware of subsidence  and check if  the property has suffered from recent or historical subsidence. Most house insurance polices will have cover for subsidence, but if the property has a history of subsidence or have been underpinned, you will need a specialist home subsidence product designed for houses that are prone to subsidence.

house subsidence insurance uk

A property with subsidence is classified as non-standard when it comes to providing property or buildings insurance. This means that you need a building's policy that is specific to properties that are prone to or have a history of subsidence. As mentioned, this is fairly common, and you will have a choice of insurance brokers that will provide the necessary cover.  

Multiquotetime works in partnership with QuoteZone who provide a simple form which once completed is submitted to a specialist panel of non standard property insurance providers. To get multiple quotes and start comparing, select start your quote button above and provide basic information to a panel of UK brokers. The panel will be in contact via the telephone to provide you with a range of home insurance subsidence quotes. Cover is available for all property purchases within the UK, including buy to let properties and holiday homes

What’s Subsidence? 

Subsidence: The downward movement of ground and a common risk insured across the property insurance market. The official definition of subsidence from the Financial Ombudsman is as follows: 

The official definition of subsidence from the Financial Ombudsman is as follows:

“The ground beneath a building sinks, pulling the property’s foundations down with it. It usually occurs when the ground loses moisture and shrinks, which can be caused by prolonged dry spells. It may also be caused by trees and shrubs, which can absorb significant volumes of water from the soil.” 

The risk as stated above is the cause of many claims on buildings’ property cover, although it mustn’t be mistaken for other ground-related causes of building damage, such as the following:

  • Settlement: The downward movement of ground from the weight of an overlying structure.
  • Heave: The upward movement of the ground, often from increased soil volume due to water. This is the reverse of subsidence.
  • Landslip: The lateral movement of land from soil erosion, geological processes, and gravity acting on cliffs and slopes. 

For a more detailed guide on how to spot subsidence, please refer to our article signs of subsidence, which will cover the main warning signs.

Effects Of Subsidence On Buildings 

Once subsidence has begun, signs may begin to appear on your property over time, as the process can be gradual as well as sudden. This can cause your building to show the effects of this change, and they’re often not pretty. 

  • Cracks can appear on walls, ceilings, and floors often greater than an inch in thickness, and form along the weaknesses, such as mortar lines in brickwork, as well as horizontally and vertically. The vertical cracks are usually thicker at the top than the bottom.
  • Wood warps and bends, even leaving doors and windows wedged and stuck in place. This can also result in fractured beams and window sills.
  • Wallpaper crinkling and creasing that’s not caused by damp.
  • Unexpected burst pipes and the escape of water can be caused by the disfigurement of the building.
  • The floor level generally sinks to some extent, and it is not unheard of to see large expanses of the ground falling metres away from the ground level.

When your property is faced with one or more of these effects of subsidence, it can indicate subsidence, but you’re always better off getting a professional opinion. Call up your insurance provider to talk through the possibility of carrying out a subsidence survey on the premises. 

Causes Of Subsidence 

As well as the tell tale signs of subsidence mentioned above, we have a few other things to look out for that are often associated with subsidence, as below:

  • High clay soil content is often present, as this type of soil can be degraded by water loss or water gain. 
  • Large trees, especially water sapping trees such as willows, can cause subsidence in the same way as clay soil. These trees cause most damage within 20 metres and can act through root action, disturbing paving slabs and bricks.
  • Leaking water can wash particles out of the soil, reducing the volume and compaction of the soil causing it to fall in. 

Does Building Insurance Cover Subsidence?

Your building's insurance policy may provide some cover for subsidence and damage caused by subsidence. Each policy will be different, but most polices will have an excess amount under claims for subsidence, expect this to be circa £1,000. This means that you will be responsible for the first £1,000 of any claim for subsidence damage.  The cover should include the main property and outbuildings, but will not cover damage to walls, gates and fences.

For exact details on cover for subsidence under your building insurance, please contact your insurance provider to find out exactly what is covered and the excess amount.

What Does Subsidence Insurance Cover

When the ground moves downwards, your building will react, and depending on the severity of the downward movement that can mean serious structural impairment. 

To beat this rainy day expense, subsidence cover on your property insurance policy can pay the repairs, replacement of lost and damaged items, and alternative accommodation costs, should subsidence occur. However, remember to check the policy wording, as there can be subsidence exclusions or excesses for subsidence, especially in high risk areas. 

Why Subsidence Insurance Is Important

Reduce your financial risk exposure by ensuring you have the right level of cover for this important section of your building’s insurance. As the effects are often felt suddenly and unexpectedly, it can be easy to put off, but with the average repair measures costing in the region of £10,000-£15,000, it is well worth covering under your policy. 

Subsidence Insurance FAQ's

Can I Still Sell My House After It Has Been Affected By Subsidence?

The answer is yes, particularly if it was minor subsidence. However, if the subsidence had been significant, it will be more difficult to sell. If you are a perspective buyer, you will need assurance that the problem has been professionally addressed. If you are relying on a lender, they too must have evidence to show the issues that caused the original subsidence have been addressed.   

If the cause of subsidence has been solved and repaired and the perspective buyer and perspective lender are happy with the repair wok that the subsidence survey gives the all clear, It will be fairy easy to sell your property. The value of the property should not be too significantly affected

Yes, provided that subsidence damage has been properly repaired, there shouldn’t be a significant impact on the value of your property. It may be harder to insure a property that has a history of subsidence unless you use a specialist insurer.

How Much Does A Subsidence Survey Cost?

Which UK estimate the price of a level 3 survey in the range of £600-£1,500. A level 3 survey us the most comprehensive and can determine if the property has subsidence or had subsidence in the past. 

Can Subsidence Damage Be Prevented? 

The process of subsidence is usually one that cannot be prevented by intervention, although in rare cases uprooting proximate trees can curb the degradation of the soil. Underpinning through various methods can also effectively reduce or eliminate the cost of repairs, so it is best to contact your insurer to seek advice from a surveyor and structural engineer if you are considering getting work done. 

Reducing the impact of subsidence can greatly improve the re-sale value of a property that is in a dangerous subsidence area. If the property needs underpinning, it’s best to get this done sooner rather than later, as it can potentially add years to the life of the property. 


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