Endsleigh Insurance is urging landlords to check the insurance policies they hold and ensure they have adequate cover for subsidence, heave and landslip.
It says that changing weather patterns in the UK have led to a number of dry winters which in turn have increased the likelihood of ground movements and the consequent damage to buildings standing on that ground.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) estimates that there are more than 30,000 insurance claims each year for subsidence costing more than £150 million, with a significant number of the UK’s 25 million homes at risk.
Houses built on soils with clay near to the surface or with shallow foundations (less than 2 meters deep) are most vulnerable, and the insurer says this is particularly acute for landlords and owners of investment properties as they own a disproportionately large percentage of older buildings in the UK’s housing stock.
Subsidence is predominately caused by shrinkage of clay soils, whereas ’heave’ is the upward movement of the ground supporting the building, frequently caused by the expansion of previously dry clay soils.
Landslip is the slow slippage of land in a downhill direction. All three can result in serious structural damage or in the worst case scenario the total loss of a building.
Dominique Dyer at Endsleigh’s specialist insurance division Woodstock Insurance Brokers, said: “If your property has suffered from subsidence, heave or landslip and you are having trouble obtaining comprehensive home insurance you will probably need the help of a specialist broker such as Woodstock as standard policies rarely offer appropriate cover.”