Heatwave leads to surge in housing subsidence claims across southern England

Both the FT and the Mail online are reporting on the problems the heatwave has caused with subsidence claims.

It is thought that demand may outstrip 2018, when payments cost £145 million with some experts expect the rise in claims to peak at 400% within a few weeks

Properties affected are particularly common in the Midlands and south England where Victorian houses, or homes built in the 1920s or 1930s, are particularly at risk because their foundations are generally shallow, along with properties built on clay-rich soils.  This includes a vast swathe of England, particularly in the South East, but also parts of the Midlands, the North East, and the South West.

Sarah Smith, LV’s head of home underwriting, said: ‘We’re starting to see the effects of climate change and the impact this is having on homes – whether that be storm, flood, fire or subsidence claims – which have all risen in recent years depending on the season.

‘This summer we’ve really seen the effects of extreme heat. As a country we’re going to need to adapt and ensure existing houses are better protected, as well as really consider the locations planned for new houses.’

Aviva, which insures almost three million households, said it had also received more enquiries about subsidence following the hot weather.

But it added that it was ‘still too early’ to say whether this year will see more claims and that wet weather would mitigate the risk.

Pretty much all the moisture has gone from the soil,” said James Preston, the technical director of Loss adjuster Sedgwick. He added that this year could prove to be worse than 2018, when 23,000 claims were made across the industry, amounting to a bill of £145mn.

Four years ago, wetter weather following the extreme heat softened some of the blow. But despite rainfall in recent days, Preston said the longer-term weather forecast could make for drier, riskier conditions. “We could stay at a higher level of desiccation in the soil for a longer period,” he said.

The Association of British Insurers, a trade body, said its members understood that the “threat of subsidence can be very stressful for homeowners”. Its advice to homeowners is not to panic if they spot a crack, as it could be the result of something other than subsidence.





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