House subsidence claims quadrupled during summer heat

Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
Picture: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
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The sizzling summer temperatures sparked a surge in claims by households to deal with the impact of subsidence, figures from insurers show.

The number of claims across July, August and September quadrupled compared with the previous quarter, rising to levels not seen in more than a decade, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said.

More than 10,000 households made claims worth a total of £64 million to deal with the impact of subsidence between July and September.

The ABI said the figures were the highest level of subsidence claims since the heatwaves of 2006 and 2003.

Subsidence is routinely covered by buildings insurance. Warning signs can include cracks suddenly emerging in properties, perhaps around doors and windows, and often appearing thicker than a 10p coin. It can happen when the ground beneath a building loses moisture and shrinks.

This can be caused by several factors, including prolonged dry spells, which cause soil to lose water, as well as trees and shrubs that can absorb significant volumes of water from the soil.

Clay soils, in particular, are seen as vulnerable and leaking underground pipes due to problems with drains and water mains can also cause soil to soften.

The number of claims between July and September was around four times the 2,500 claims seen during the previous quarter, when the total value of claims was £14m.

The ABI said the 357 per cent increase in the value of subsidence claims was the highest quarterly jump since records started more than 25 years ago.

The ABI’s senior policy adviser for property, Laura Hughes, said: “Insurers understand that this is a stressful time for affected homeowners and are providing widespread support to help with repairs.

“Our advice is don’t panic if you spot a crack in your home. There are many other reasons why these may have occurred.

“Get in touch with your insurer if you believe your home is experiencing subsidence and they’ll be on hand with the best expertise and the best technology.

“Insurers and their appointed loss adjusters are very well equipped to deal with these types of complex claims.”

The association said the hot weather of 2018 saw some UK regions experience the driest months on record.