UK Buildings Insurance - The Insurance Nightmare Known As Subsidence By: Trevor Dace
Let me say at the outset, this is an expensive problem. There is a healthy excess, i.e. you will be made to pay the first slice of your claim. The majority of UK policies now stipulate a £1,000 excess but you can shop around for less. I hope you have some money put aside!Secondly, your claim will take many months to resolve. There is a substantial set of exclusions. Here is a likely list. If any of these apply, you are on your own without any help from your insurance company.
No outside gates, paths, walls, decks, terraces, patios etc. are covered if none of your main buildings or outbuildings are damaged. Landslip by coastal erosion. Movement of solid floor slabs unless foundations beneath outside walls are also damaged by the same cause Bedding down of new structures or newly made-up ground settling.Thankfully there are the extras that apply to standard cover. These exceptions provide some cover against accidental damage with your standard policy.
As the property owner you are covered for any damage to service pipes and underground cables Sanitary fittings, windows etc. Again you are covered against accidental damage to your built in ceramic hobs, bathroom fixtures and all windows in the building. Beware, that there is very likely to be a clause further on into the policy that will lay out what you are allowed to claim for.
Each item is treated as a separate item, not as part of a set. Thus, if your hand basin is accidentally damaged, don't wait for your insurer to pay out for a complete new bathroom suite! Alternative Accommodation.
Very important if your home is made uninhabitable owing to serious damage. Your insurer will pay for alternative accommodation. This might be a local hotel or maybe the additional costs to friends and family if they can give you temporary accommodation. At least one major online insurance company will also pay the boarding costs for any pets if you have to be away from them. Cover might also offer either payment of rent or loss of rent due if you are a landlord. There is a limit, a sum insured which is normally around 20% of the overall sum insured for
your buildings cover.
Incidentally, if you sell the house, the purchaser can enjoy the benefit of the cover up to the completion date provided they have no cover of their own in force at the time. BASIS OF SETTLEMENT - All reputable policies will offer 'reinstatement'. That is, in effect, 'new for old'. It will be repaired with new parts and should the entire structure be beyond economical repair, it will be completely restored with new materials and no payments from you (except any excess). The latest building regulations might mean increased costs.
Sadly, if only part of the building is damaged and restored, the remainder of the building would very likely come under new building regs and this expense would be down to you. Demolishing, debris removal, shoring up etc will all be covered as are reasonable architects and surveyors fees, legal fees and fees for estimates, plans etc. Insurers prefer to be in control of the matter so if cracks start appearing in your walls, report it to them at once. If you go and instruct your own surveyor they might well recommend drastic measures to prop up your house that might not be required. You will find yourself in dispute with your insurer.
There are many issues that can arise during a claim involving subsidence. Because of the amount of time that these claims can take, things such as trying to sell your home, trying to change your insurer and so on can all raise problems. It would take a book to answer them all. One I will just mention is that if you have changed insurance companies, the previous insurers might be called upon to contribute to your claim under the Association of British Insurers Domestic Subsidence Agreement. This is to prevent disputes between insurers as to who pays for what.
You should not be affected by any negotiation between the companies. We'll finish by considering what happens when an underground pipe has leaked and this has led to movement and thus subsidence? What insured peril should apply and what excess will you have to pay? It is in your interests to demonstrate that the loss should fall under the underground services peril. That way you are not required to pay the imposed excess of a subsidence claim. The policy clause in question is known as the 'proximate cause'. You must attempt to prove that the proximate cause of the subsidence is the leaking or broken pipe.
This article was created by Trevor Dace. He has many years of experience working as a claims adjuster with UK insurance companies. His website www.instant-online-insurance.co.uk offers tesco home insurance plus a comprehensive range of other types of insurance with online quotes and secure online payment.