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Subsidence or not?

Postby mortod » Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:24 am

Here's a question, perhaps a difficult one:

When we bought our house some 6 years ago there were a couple of cracks due to movement - nothing major, really just hairline through bricks and mortar up to 1st floor level. Our survey and further expert investigation concluded that the movement was due to a blocked drain, which being on sandy soil caused some sands to be washed out from under the foundations (a bit like standing on a wet beach). We had the drains fixed by a reputable drain company.

My problem is that in any insurance application I feel duty bound to say 'yes' to the subsidence question, even though a sandy soil is the best you can get, and the area generally is not prone to subsidence. In order to get cover we have had to stay with the previous owner's insurer.

6 years on I would dearly love to move our insurance so as to get a better rate elsewhere - I feel our existing insurers have us over a barrel. Is there any way I can get the house surveyed and signed off so that I can answer 'no' to that subsidence question?
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Postby chris_on_tour2002 » Tue Apr 29, 2008 3:56 pm

if the cause of that initial subsidence has been fixed and the subsidence has ceased then i see no reason why you shouldn't move insurers and say that there is no subsidence. get a structural engineer's opinion and survey to support your case. so any future claims for subsidence would be legitimate unless, perhaps, that original problem reoccurs and you didn't declare it. simple solution to that is to keep an eye on your drain to ensure it doesn't happen again. did you get any guarantee for the work which was done on the drain?
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Postby rosebery » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:11 pm

This is potentially a minefield.

Check this webpage out: ... urance.htm.

Did you make a claim under your policy for the event 6 years ago? Did the event trigger any remedial work to stabilise the foundations or was it (as your post suggests) just a matter of clearing the drains?

It almost sounds marginal as to whether an insurer would define your problem as subsidence but, as the Ombudsman's page points out, no two insurers may take exactly the same view.

My advice would be, rather than just ticking a box, get into dialogue with your current (or prospective) insurer and provide full details.

Hope that helps.

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Postby plumbbob » Wed May 28, 2008 10:45 am

the trouble here is if you were ever to make a serious claim, they may try and use this as an excuse to avoid paying if you ever say no outright.

Frankly, I would get quotes using no as an answer, then approach the company directly and explain the situation.

There are many companies who will insure properties that are "special quotes" ie listed or underpinned buildings.

I just wouldn't risk simply saying no!
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