A record number of homeowners are expected to file benefit claims to insurance companies this year.
Experts say the hot, dry summer means thousands more homes are likely to be affected by problems caused by sinking land.
This year is likely to surpass the record total for 2018 when 23,000 claims amounting to £145m were made.
The total number of accommodation claims this year is likely to surpass the record of 2018 when 23,000 claims were made amounting to £145m.
Insurance giant LV= saw a 205 percent jump in claims between June and July, while other companies reported a fivefold rise in cases.
Subsidence strikes fear in many homeowners. The majority of cases are due to soil drying during long periods without rain.
Subsidence can reduce property value by up to 20 percent. Lenders often refuse to provide a mortgage until it is resolved.
Most home insurance policies will cover the subsidy, but companies will ask new customers if this has been an issue in the past. If there are problems, some insurance companies will refuse to cover.
Other companies may charge higher premiums to cover these homes or charge a larger overage fee of around £1,000 for homes with a history of decline.
Subsidence occurs when the ground sinks under the building and the foundations of the property are demolished with it.
Warning signs include diagonal cracks around window and door frames as well as sloping floors, and homes built on clay soil are particularly vulnerable because clay expands in wet weather and contracts when conditions dry again.
This soil is common in London and the South East, where homes are most commonly affected.
England recorded its driest July since 1935 this year, and insurers are responding to a paucity of inquiries.
Last month, loss adjuster Sedgwick recorded a 480 percent year-on-year increase in the number of landing claims in the UK. Loss adjusters are the specialists charged with evaluating the cost of damage.
Reasons: Subsidence occurs when the ground sinks under the building and the foundations of the property are demolished with it.
“The very dry weather we’ve had this year has left very little moisture in the soil,” says James Preston, the company’s technical director.
Insurance claims negotiator Jeremy Rawlinson of Salmon Assors says the number of landing claims has doubled since the summer. “The claims have skyrocketed since the long drought and the intense heat we’ve been going through,” he says.
Richard Hazelgrove has been worried about cracks appearing in his detached home in Fareham, Hampshire, since the summer.
Everywhere you look there are cracks, it’s really unsettling.
“They’re around every window in the house and most doors won’t close properly, including the doors to the patio,” says the 64-year-old.
Richard says cracks appeared both inside and outside the house in the summer, but have continued to widen after recent rainstorms and are now 5 to 6 mm wide.
Richard has called his insurance company because he believes his home is built on clay soil and needs bolstering – but has yet to hear back.
Cracks can appear quickly but no repair work can begin until the root cause of subsidence is identified. This can take at least six months to fully investigate and diagnose, Rawlinson warns.
Heatwave: People cool off in the sea in Brighton in July. Experts say the hot, dry summer means thousands more homes are likely to be affected by problems caused by sinking land
You should use the laser to observe the direction in which the property sinks over time. Only then can it be stabilized.
“Then we recommend waiting another five to six months to make sure it’s done right before the repair work can be done indoors.”
Tree roots are a common culprit because they tend to pull moisture from the soil beneath the house.
Leaks from drains or water pipes are another thing – they soften the soil, or wash it away.
Victorian and Edwardian properties are also at greater risk of subsidence because their foundations are much shallower than modern buildings.
About 35 per cent of relegation claims made at this time of year will be denied, according to Sedgwick’s Preston.
One of the most common excuses insurers use to deny a claim is that something else caused the damage – such as wear and tear or poor construction.
Conflicts can also arise if a subsidence is discovered shortly after a homeowner switches to a new home insurance policy.
The boom: Insurance giant LV= saw a 205% jump in claims between June and July, while other companies reported a fivefold rise in cases
The ABI trade body has an agreement designed to solve this problem. For example, if a subsidence is found less than eight weeks after someone changed provider, the previous company will handle the claim.
The two insurance companies will share the cost if a claim is filed between eight weeks and a year on a new policy. But some cases have been delayed for years as a result of disagreements between the companies.
Roger Flaxman, of insurance claims advocacy firm Flaxman Partners, says: ‘These cases can be similar to flood claims in that they can be complex, take a long time to resolve and the most extreme claims can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
I had one case where a property had to be demolished 14 years after the claim was first filed because insurance companies spent too long debating what to do with the case.
Consulting director Kate Pomfret has spent the past five years in a dispute with Direct Line over a subsidy claim.
The insurance company now agrees that some rooms in its four-bed semi-detached house in Birkenhead, Merseyside, are affected by subsidence, but says others are not.
At one point, a loss adjuster hired by Direct Line dismissed cracks in her living room because she claimed they were caused by “vigorous activity” in the bedroom above.
“It’s been an incredibly stressful few years and I just want to sort out this whole story,” says Kate, 46.
After Money Mail contacted Direct Line, she arranged for the technical director of loss adjusting to visit Kate’s house.
“If a customer suspects their home has been affected by subsidence, it is essential that they contact their insurance company as soon as possible,” says an ABI spokesperson.
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