Subsidence can cost thousands to remedy. That’s why it is so important to have a home insurance policy that covers you for subsidence damage.
So, is subsidence covered by your home insurance policy?
Subsidence is covered by most home insurance policies, provided your property has not had problems with subsidence in the past. You will have to pay a subsidence excess when you make a claim. Most policies have an excess of around £1,000 for subsidence claims, but the exact amount will be set out in your policy schedule.
But what happens if you discover subsidence damage after changing your insurance provider? And for how many years does historic subsidence affect insurance? We answer the most common FAQs on subsidence and insurance in our article, and give you our top tips along the way.
(Thinking of selling as-is and avoiding insurance and repairs altogether? It is an option, especially if you're looking for a quicker sale. Hit the red button below to learn more).
1. Is subsidence covered by insurance?
Subsidence is covered by most home insurance policies, provided your property hasn’t had problems with subsidence in the past.
A good home insurance policy should cover you for:
- Cost of repairs for any damage caused by subsidence up to the sum insured under the policy.
- Alternative accommodation when the remedial works are being carried out, if it means the property is uninhabitable.
- Damage to surrounding structures, for example your patio, where the damage occurred at the same time and by the same cause as the damage to the property.
Home insurance policies don’t usually cover the cost of preventing future subsidence. Insurers will only need to carry out works necessary to stabilise the property.
If you want to renew your home insurance after making a subsidence claim, your existing insurer can exclude subsidence cover from any future claims.
You should read your policy wording to ensure subsidence is not excluded from your current home insurance policy. Let’s take a look at some of the most common exclusions below…
2. Common exclusions to look out for in your insurance policy
Although most home insurance policies will cover subsidence, you should read your policy to make sure you understand any exclusions that may apply.
We have reviewed several standard home insurance policies and have set out the most common exclusions for you below:
3. How many years does subsidence affect insurance?
You have to let insurers know about any subsidence, historic or ongoing, for as long as you’re insuring that property.
For most insurance policies, there’s a time limit in which customers must declare previous claims to their insurer. Take car insurance for example. Any previous car insurance claims usually only have to be disclosed for up to five years after the claim has been made.
There is no time limit when it comes to disclosing subsidence claims. Even if the subsidence claim was made 15 years ago, you should still disclose it to your insurer.
The number of years subsidence affects your home insurance policy will vary on a case by case basis depending on the severity of the subsidence, the cause of the subsidence and the success of the remedial works.
Each insurance company will have their own underwriting criteria. Some might be willing to accept new customers whose homes have suffered from subsidence more than five years ago if they are able to show the remedial works have been successful. Others will be hesitant to offer home insurance on a property that has suffered from historic subsidence 10+ years ago.
Either way, a subsidence claim is highly likely to affect your insurance premiums, especially in the first five or so years after the claim has been made.
4. What is the subsidence excess?
The subsidence excess is the amount of money you must pay when making an insurance claim for subsidence. This is usually a pre-agreed amount set out in your home policy schedule.
ABI state that “most policies will have an excess of around £1,000 for a subsidence claim”.
5. What happens if I discover subsidence damage after changing my insurance provider?
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have released guidance on what to do if you discover subsidence damage after changing your insurance provider.
Who will handle your claim is based on the amount of time that has passed between you switching insurer, discovering subsidence damage and notifying your insurer.
Check out our table below based on ABI’s guidance to see if it should be your previous or current insurer handling your subsidence claim…
6. Insurance after the discovery of subsidence
Homeowners often find it tricky to get property insurance after they’ve made a subsidence claim as less insurers will be willing to offer you cover.
You have two options after you’ve made a subsidence claim:
- Try and get cover from your current insurance provider
- Get cover from a new insurance provider
Let’s explore both options in more detail below…
6.1 Best case scenario: get cover from your current insurance provider
If you have made a subsidence claim, you should try to maintain insurance cover from your current home insurance provider if possible.
Most insurers will continue to provide subsidence cover on your property after a claim arises, provided that the repairs have been carried out under their direction and/or have been approved by your insurer.
In an article on thisismoney.co.uk published in 2020, spokespeople for Aviva, Admiral and Direct Line all confirmed that they would continue to cover existing customer’s properties after they made a claim for subsidence.
If you are trying to sell a home with subsidence and you have an ongoing claim, you should contact your insurer to see if you can get their written authority to transfer the claim to the new buyers.
Likewise, if you are trying to sell a house with historic subsidence, you should contact your insurer to see if they would be willing to offer insurance to the new buyer. Prospective buyers will be much more likely to put in an offer on your home if they know that the house can be insured.
However, sometimes continuation of cover is not possible…
6.2 Getting cover from a new insurance provider
It can be difficult changing your insurance provider when your home has suffered from subsidence damage in the past. The Association of British Insurers recommend contacting an insurance broker through the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) for specialist advice.
If your property is still at risk of subsidence, you can expect to pay a higher premium than other homeowners. Your policy may also be subject to different terms and conditions to take into account the additional risk.
If you're considering selling your property, subsidence doesn't have to stop you. Try this free quiz to explore your options and see which sale method makes the most sense for you:
7. How do I insure a property I’m buying if it’s suffered from historic subsidence?
It can be difficult finding home insurance if you are buying a property with historic subsidence.
Your best place to start would be to contact the seller to see if their current home insurance policy can be “transferred” to you once you have completed the sale. Some insurers are happy to offer insurance to a new buyer should an existing customer wish to sell their home.
You should ask the seller to provide written confirmation from the insurer for peace of mind.
8. Do I claim for subsidence caused by coal mining through my home insurance provider?
You can read gov.uk’s handy guide to your rights here if you are unsure whether to make a claim.
Once you have confirmation that the subsidence damage is due to coal mining, you can claim via the Coal Authority by following these steps:
- Download and fill out the Coal Authority’s Damage Notice Form. If you need any help completing the form, you can contact the Coal Authority by phone (0345 762 6848), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or write to them at The Coal Authority, 200 Lichfield Lane, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, NG18 4RG.
- Send your completed and signed form to the Coal Authority. You should email your completed form to email@example.com.
- An engineer will inspect the damage. An engineer will come out to your property and inspect the damage.
- Tell your home insurance provider. You should tell your insurer that you have made a claim for subsidence through the Coal Authority.
If the engineer agrees with your claim, the most common outcome is the mine owner will carry out repairs to your home.
In certain circumstances, the mine owner might pay compensation for the damages instead of carrying out repairs; for example, where repairs are not physically possible.
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert