The heatwave in 2018 led to a huge increase in subsidence claims – even higher than figures in 2003 and 2006, which were previous record-breaking hot summers. Are you prepared if there’s a heatwave in 2019?
Insurers reported that around 10,000 subsidence claims were made in 2018, that’s a 20% increase compared to 2017. The Association of British Insurers estimated that pay outs totalled £64m following the summer heatwave.
What’s the risk?
Subsidence occurs when the ground below a home shifts which causes cracks in the structure of the building. Usually cracks caused by subsidence are wider at the bottom than the top. Movement in the ground often happens after extreme dry weather and subsidence is more prevalent on houses built on clay.
The hot weather in 2018 was a huge headache for many homeowners. In the south east of England in particular, hardly any rain fell in June, which led to dry, cracking ground. There is a significant proportion of houses built on clay soil in this region of the country as well.
While minor cracks might not be an issue, if the cracks continue to widen or there is another spell of hot, dry weather, you should ask your insurer to get a subsidence report to be safe.
The ABI advises that you keep an eye out for diagonal cracks that appear suddenly rather than gradually, and that you should seek professional advice on fractures that are wider than a 10 pence coin.
Do you really have anything to worry about?
Insurers have tightened their policy clauses on subsidence claims over recent years, which has reduced pay outs from their peak in the early 90s when payments reached £540m.
It is really important that you check your insurance policy to see what your protection is in the case of a subsidence claim. It is particularly vital if your property is built on clay, or is in one of the postcodes identified as a subsidence hotspot. It might also be an issue if large trees are located near your home, as in drier climates they tend to take the water out of the ground, leaving it more prone to cracking.
Insurance premiums are also likely to rise if you have claimed for subsidence in the past – with some insurers offering policies with high excesses, or not covering it at all.
What to look out for in your insurance cover
- Shop around for the best terms – What do you need from your policy? Consider what excess you are comfortable with as well as other key areas, such as rebuild costs or being covered for items if lost away from your home. If you have a property in a subsidence prone area, you need to be insured for this.
- Remember, the lowest price does not always mean the best policy – The cheapest quote might seem like the best bet, but often it means less favourable terms or a higher excess. Think about what you personally need from your insurance policy and make sure that it is included in your cover before looking at the price.
- A specialist insurer might be best – Often insurers specialise in particular areas – it could be hard to insure homes, or based on your profession. You will most likely find the best quote from an insurer who specialises in what you need.
- Speak to a broker – You are most likely to get the best price and the best cover when you work with a broker. They are able to ask the right questions and if you are able to provide full information then an insurer will likely be able to provide you with cover that is appropriate for you.
Let us help you with your home insurance
At All Med Pro we specialise in helping medical and dental professionals with their business and personal insurances. We help you find cover for hard to insure properties that is not only competitively priced, but also with the right terms.