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What is subsidence insurance?

Published 4 March 2016 by

When properties are built on unstable land, they can sometimes start to sink slightly over time. This can cause cracks in the walls, doors and windows sticking and – if you’re an owner of one of these properties – a headache when it comes to getting insurance.

Some insurers will refuse to cover properties with subsidence as they see them as more of a risk and even some that do could be more likely to charge you higher premiums. You might also have to pay out a higher excess if you do need to claim, so you could be better off finding specialist cover.

Subsidence on your property

If your property is built on soft soil like clay, its foundations can be affected by changes in the levels of moisture. This is because clay soil is more likely to expand when it’s wet and contract when it’s dry, causing your property’s foundations to shift.

Trees or plants on your property can contribute to subsidence as they suck the moisture out the soil and dry it up. Prolonged periods of dry weather can even have an effect on the ground below your home, as well as any underground leaking drains which could soften the soil.

All of this causes the foundations of your home to start to sink and become uneven. This can mean the plaster and brickwork in your property starts to crack and you could have to have expensive building work on your home’s foundations.

Small cracks can appear the walls of new-built properties as well but this is usually down to ‘settlement’, as the foundations of the building adjust in the soil. This is nothing to worry about and usually stops after the property has settled. However, if there are big cracks down one side of your property, you’ve noticed doors and windows starting to stick more than they used to or wallpaper has rippled and it’s not due to damp, you might have subsidence on your property.

Affecting your premiums

When you’re trying to find a home insurance deal, it’s possible that some insurers won’t cover you with subsidence on your property. Other insurers may cover you, though some will quote you for higher insurance premiums than similar properties without subsidence.

If you’ve been covered before and have only recently discovered subsidence on your property, you may be able to renew your home insurance policy with your current insurer. However, keep in mind that you could be quoted a higher premium price and there’s not guarantee your current insurer will be willing to cover you again.

Getting cover

Don’t worry that you won’t be able to get a home insurance policy at all. You could get cover from a home insurance provider that specialises in subsidence or you could find a deal through an insurance broker like thinkmoney. Brokers can often get exclusive offers that aren’t available on the high street and they search a range of insurance providers, so they could be a good option for finding the cheapest deal for your situation.