Compare home insurance quotes for properties affected by subsidence
Subsidence is covered by most house insurance policies, but only if your home has never suffered from subsidence in the past. A good buildings insurance policy will cover repairs to damage caused by subsidence, as well as replacement costs for lost items and alternative accommodation.
Subsidence is where the ground beneath your building sinks and pulls the foundations down with it. This causes cracks to appear in your building’s walls and floors and can eventually mean your property leans to one side and is structurally unsound.
Here are a few common causes of subsidence:
The cost of insuring a property with subsidence will vary depending on:
It's likely to be more expensive to insure a home with a history of subsidence than one without. Premiums are likely to be higher and you might find that less insurers are willing to offer you cover.
If you want to renew your home insurance after a subsidence claim, your existing insurer may still offer you a renewal, but they're not obliged to and you're likely to see a rise in your premium. They might also exclude subsidence cover from any future claims.
Here are a few ways you can prevent subsidence:
If you're planting new trees and shrubs, don’t put them too close to your home.
Buildings with shallow foundations are at risk of subsidence caused by trees and roots. If your house was built before 1950s, it will be particularly susceptible.
Tree roots seek water and grow towards drains which aren’t watertight. However, they’re unlikely to break through solid foundations.
Prune bushes and trees regularly. Have large, older trees surveyed every few years to see if they pose any immediate danger to your property.
If a pipe leaks or a drain overflows under your home, it will make the earth damp and weak, potentially causing heave and moving the foundations of your home.
You must maintain the pipes and drains under your home, even if they are difficult to access. If you suspect water’s escaped underneath your house, contact your insurer - it might put you in touch with a CCTV drainage surveyor.
If you’re buying a house, look out for large diagonal cracks, inside and out, and check that the doors and windows shut properly.
If you can’t see any cosmetic concerns, read your homebuyers or RICS Building survey.
The latter is best for older properties because it breaks down structural issues into a traffic light, colour coded (red, amber, green) rating system, alerting you to any hidden structural red flags, not just for subsidence, and how serious the issue is.
The Homebuyer report doesn’t consider damage under floorboards or behind walls.
If you need to claim on your home insurance - for example, if your building is damaged by subsidence or your possessions are stolen - your free home excess cover will refund up to £250 of your excess.
There’s no hidden charge. But you won't be covered for things like accidental loss such as leaving a laptop on a train or accidental damage, such as spilling wine on your carpet or drilling through a pipe.
^UK residents and home insurance purchases only. Excess refunded after claim settled. Excludes accidental loss or damage claims made on your home insurance. Full T&Cs apply.
If you suspect your property is at risk, there are tell-tale signs that can help you identify whether you’re affected
Some of the signs are:
Cracks caused by subsidence may be found in inner and outer walls. They can appear and spread quickly, be thinner at one end, run diagonally, and be found around windows and doors.
Doors and windows may become jammed, stuck or not close properly if they're out of alignment.
Sagging or sloping floors, ceilings and walls may be an indication that your house foundations aren't straight.
Cracks in walls that are hidden beneath the wallpaper may cause it to wrinkle.
If you have an extension, you may spot cracks around where the extension joins your home.
To work out whether subsidence has been an issue for your house, check the subsidence history of the property. You could ask your neighbours about the area.
Properties with a history of subsidence are difficult to insure and you might end up paying higher premiums with a specialist insurer - shop around to find a policy that works for you.
Ground heave is the opposite of subsidence. It’s the upward movement of the ground when soil gets wet and expands.
The subsidence excess is a one-off, fixed amount you pay when you make a claim for subsidence. As subsidence claims are normally expensive, the excess can be around £1,000 or more.
Most homes will get a crack or two, but cracks from subsidence look slightly different. Look for long cracks that run diagonally and are thinner at one end.
You have to let insurers know about any subsidence for as long as you’re insuring that property – there is no time limit after which you don’t have to declare it anymore. But insurers, builders, surveyors and anyone else involved only need to keep records of subsidence claims for seven years.