What is Subsidence?
Subsidence refers to the quality and variation of the ground on which your property is built. If this ground is uneven, cracked or damaged then your property is considered to be affected by subsidence. This is an aspect of home insurance that is often overlooked as many people assume that only houses built on cliff faces or other high risk areas can be affected. This is far from the case. There are many factors that can cause subsidence even if your home isn’t considered to be in a high risk area. For example if you’ve had any large trees either removed or planted near your house – this will affect the ground underneath it. Also extreme weather conditions are one of the most common causes of subsidence. Dry spells in particular are known to cause properties to be susceptible to subsidence as the soil can shrink and swell due to a lack of moisture.
How Do I know if my Property’s at Risk?
There are certain tell tale signs that your property may be affected by subsidence. Things such as
- Unexplained damage to walls or floors
- Tears in the wallpaper
- Doors or windows are difficult to open
- Protrusions in the walls
If your property shows some or all of these signs then there is a good chance that it is affected by subsidence. Often if your property hasn’t be treated for subsidence in the past then it will be covered as part of your home insurance. You cannot take this for granted, however. The first thing you do before thinking of getting quotes for subsidence specifically, is to find out if your covered by your home insurance.
Should I Get a Policy?
Subsidence can be very tricky to assess for a non-expert. Simply having some cracks around the interior of your home is not conclusive proof that you have subsidence. If you’re certain you don’t have subsidence and the property has no history of it then you can probably have it covered by your home insurance. If however you strongly suspect that your property is affected by subsidence and has a history of it, then you will probably need a specialist policy. In this case the insurance company will usually send an expert to assess your property, as well as the risk of a claim and use this information to tailor a quote for you.
The idea of a specialist policy is that it will cover you much more thoroughly than a home insurance policy that covers subsidence. If subsidence is covered in your home insurance policy then be sure to read the small print to see exactly what you’re covered for. Often it is very minimal coverage, which is less than idea, especially if your property is high risk.
Getting a Policy
The difficulty and cost of getting a subsidence insurance policy will vary depending on where you live and how badly your property is already affected by subsidence. Subsidence insurance can very costly if you live in a high risk area so you want to know for sure that your property has been properly assessed. It would be a good idea to have an independent contractor assess your property for current subsidence damage. If you feel you’re in a high risk area then you really have no choice but to take out a policy as your home is irreplaceable and is too valuable an asset to take chances with.
You can usually get an idea of the price you might expect to pay by getting quotes from several companies online (with www.subsidenceinsurances.co.uk you can do this online). However you should not take out a policy unless your certain of the risk factor and history of your property as you can easily find yourself paying over the odds.