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Last updated: 2 February 2021
Subsidence is when your home moves because the ground under it is sinking. This causes stress to the foundations, resulting in cracks.
Houses are underpinned to strengthen the foundations and make them more secure. Left untouched, a home with subsidence could end up leaning and be structurally unsound.
That’s why having home insurance subsidence cover is sensible, so you could have the repairs paid for before it’s too late.
But you’ll only be offered this cover if your home hasn’t suffered from subsidence in the past. Polices vary, so check your home insurance to make sure.
Some companies won’t offer any insurance at all for a property with subsidence history, or for a property in an area that’s at risk.
A home insurance subsidence policy can protect your property against repairs, or damage to the contents, as a result of subsidence.
When you compare home insurance subsidence policies check what excess you have to pay if you claim for subsidence. It’s often higher than the excess on a standard home insurance claim.
For example, some subsidence insurance policies set an excess of £1,000 which you have to pay in the event of subsidence, compared to £200 for any other claim.
A home insurance subsidence policy often comes with a high excess. This is to offset the cost of a subsidence claim, which can be very expensive. You can find out more about home insurance excess here.
Read each subsidence home insurance policy carefully when looking for cover to see what’s excluded from your policy.
For example, most subsidence home insurance policies won’t cover any subsidence damage that’s caused by:
|Escaped water or oil from fixed water or heating systems|
|Normal ‘bedding down’ of new buildings|
|River or coastal soil erosion|
|Any structural changes you make to your home|
It’s important to take note of any exclusions when you take out your policy.
You can find out more about getting home insurance for subsidence history here.
The signs of subsidence to look out for in your home can include:
|Deep, wide cracks in the walls, outside and inside|
|Cracks around windows and door not linked to natural house settlement|
|Cracks that are expanding|
|Rippling wallpaper not linked to damp|
|Doors and windows sticking due to frames changing shape|
Your subsidence home insurance is likely to cover you for subsidence damage caused by:
|The type of soil under your home (clay is known to cause more problems)|
|Trees growing close to your home|
|The age of your home|
The best policies will pay out for repairs caused by subsidence damage, and replace lost items. They’ll also pay for alternative accommodation while repairs are carried out.
Most subsidence insurance policies cover subsidence damage to your garden, but only if your buildings have been damaged at the same time.
The kind of things that could be damaged by subsidence include:
|Outdoor swimming pools|
The most comprehensive policies would pay for repairs to all these, plus the cost of any damaged contents of your home.
The cost is affected by the following factors:
|What kind of property you have|
|How old your home is|
|Where you live (some areas are worse affected)|
|How much cover you want|
|How close you live to water|
|How close to your home there are trees (especially oak, poplar, ash, willow, sycamore and plane trees)|
|Whether your home’s been affected by subsidence before (although you may struggle to get insurance at all if this is the case)|
Perhaps you’ve claimed for subsidence damage before, or you live in an ‘at-risk’ area. Either way, it’s likely your insurer will have quite a few questions when you apply for subsidence insurance cover.
These might include:
|When did the subsidence occur?|
|What caused it?|
|What repairs were carried out?|
|Was the property underpinned, and if so was it a partial or complete underpinning?|
|Has there been any ground movement since?|
|How much was your claim for?|
|Do you have evidence of surveys and reports? (You may be asked to share these)|
The insurer will gather this information and then decide whether to offer you subsidence insurance. If you can’t get subsidence as part of your home insurance, you may need a specialist policy.
It may if it is built near a coal mine, on clay soil or close to large trees. Find out more about your area on the Environment Agency website.
Most home insurance policies set a higher excess for subsidence claims, for example £1,000 compared to £200 for other claims.
Yes, you must inform the insurer, even if it happened a long time ago because your home could be at risk from damage in the future.
Yes, any damage resulting from ground movement caused by fracking should be covered by your home insurance policy.
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