Endsleigh is recommending landlords to review the insurance policies they hold and ensure they have adequate cover.Changing weather patterns leading to several dry winters have, in turn, led to many problems for UK property owners. One of these is the increased likelihood of ground movements and the consequent damage to buildings standing on that ground.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors estimates that there are more
than 30,000 insurance claims each year for subsidence costing more than
£150million, with a significant number of the UK’s 25 million homes at
Houses built on soils with clay near to the surface or with shallow
foundations (less than 2 meters deep) are most vulnerable, and 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. Those with many properties and who don’t live in
their rented building are at further risk as they are less likely to
notice the tell-tale signs of ground movement until the situation has
There are three main types of ground movement. 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.
The most common cause of subsidence is a drying of the soil on which the
property is built. Clay soils are particularly vulnerable as they
shrink and swell according to their moisture content. This is often
exacerbated by trees that surrounding the property which can suck the
moisture from clay soil and cause it to shrink. This is likely during
long periods of dry weather, and the risks increase as the trees mature
and demand more and more water.
Heave is most commonly caused by changes in local drainage conditions
caused by building work or by damaged and leaking drains. Leaking drains
can also soften or wash away the ground beneath the foundations causing
a combination of heave and subsidence.
Damage can be repaired, limited or prevented by:
- The professional removal or pruning of trees.
- Repairing the damaged drains.
- Localised repairs to brickwork.
- Underpinning – strengthening or deepening of the building foundations.
Dominique Dyer at Endsleigh’s specialist insurance division Woodstock
Insurance Brokers, commented; “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. We are a non–standard insurance broker and specialise
in insuring properties that are prone to this type of risk. We can
therefore assist in obtaining the right policy for your property. “
Climate changes and the impact on the UK’s weather patterns present
property owners with a number of challenges. However, Endsleigh and
Woodstock provide a range of insurance policies for landlords, tenants