Once you have discovered subsidence, one thought is bound to come up; how will this affect my insurance? Subsidence can be a tricky issue for insurers to deal with. This is partly due to the length of time it takes to figure out the extent of the problem and the expertise required to come up with the solution that works best for the particular situation.
Tell your insurer
Your first step is to get in touch with your home insurer as soon as possible – in fact some policies may have this as a requirement on your part. They will likely send round an engineer to check the damage and make sure it is subsidence-related. If the damage is minor and there are no signs that it is getting worse then repairs will be carried out, with the costs covered by the insurer.
Note that claims can be turned down if the cause is determined to be settlement not subsidence. Settlement is a normal part of a building’s life and occurs soon after construction.
If the damage is major and/or there is evidence that the subsidence is ongoing, then it becomes more complicated. Your home and the subsidence may have to be monitored by engineers in order to ascertain the rate of damage and the severity of the underlying problem.
The correct solution is something that will need to be worked out between you, your insurer and a professional subsidence contractor. Solutions could range from minor wall and door frame fixing, to major underpinning procedures to fix the subsidence problem at the source. You have options when it comes to how to solve your subsidence issues.
Will I be covered?
Your insurer will tell you if you are covered under the policy. Most home insurance policies will cover subsidence claims, but you will often have to pay a higher excess. This is because of how costly subsidence damage is for insurers to repair. Excesses can be more than £1000 and sometimes as much as £5000. Sometimes insurers will increase your premiums once your home has been found to suffer from subsidence.
You may find it more difficult to change insurance providers if you have already discovered subsidence damage. Some insurers will not cover houses with a history of subsidence or will charge you much higher premiums. You have to tell the new insurers about the history of subsidence or you could lose future claims.
What if I change insurance and then discover subsidence damage?
This is an issue which is largely dependent on how soon after the switch you find the subsidence:
- If the notification date is within eight weeks of you changing insurance providers then your previous insurer handles the claim.
- If the notification date is between eight weeks and a year of you switching providers then both your previous and current insurers will share the cost of the claim.
- If the date of notification date is more than a year after the switch then your current insurers will cover the cost.