LONDON, May 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
It may have been the wettest April for 100 Years but after two winters of exceptionally low rainfall the lack of soil moisture can be a real problem for homeowners as it can cause the ground beneath housing foundations to contract which can result in serious subsidence damage.
The indications are that insurers are on course for an expensive year for subsidence claims as Allianz's Property Claims Manager, Harry Rule explains:
"The first quarter 2012 subsidence claims are the worst we have seen at Allianz in the last ten years. The recent heavy rain is unlikely to have much effect on soil moisture levels as the hard ground has been unable to absorb the water. It is early days yet but this could be one of the worst years for subsidence claims in recent memory."
Allianz Your Cover has the following advice for homeowners on what to look out for and what measures they should take if they suspect their home or an outbuilding is starting to subside.
1. If your home has one or more of the following it could be more at risk from subsidence
- Trees close to buildings - Trees are a major cause of subsidence because they remove moisture from the ground. A single large deciduous tree can remove more than 50,000 litres of water from the surrounding soil per year
Trees near to buildings should be regularly trimmed to minimise the water they require and before planting a tree or even a large shrub, it is a good idea to get advice from a professional on the safe distance to plant a new addition to the garden from any outbuildings
- Clay soils - Clay soil contracts and expands to a greater degree with changing moisture levels. Most shrinkable clay in the UK can be found in the South East which is the area most affected by a lack of rainfall and therefore properties in the region are more prone to subsidence
- Escape of water - Damaged and leaking drains or pipes can further weaken foundations and increase the risk of subsidence. Regular home maintenance is the key to detecting this type of damage and a prompt repair is crucial.
2. Homeowners should remain vigilant for cracks and structural distortions
- Small cracks may not be an indication of subsidence - Cracks no wider than 5mm are unlikely to be serious and can visually be dealt with by routine maintenance and decoration
- Large cracks and distortions - Cracks wider than 5mm could indicate subsidence. The cracks tend to be visible both inside and outside the building, tapered and extend below the damp proof. Doors and windows which begin to stick when they haven't done so before and/or have significant cracks around them can also be a sign of subsidence.
3. If subsidence is suspected homeowners are advised to contact their insurer
- Subsidence damage is usually included under building insurance policies so there is no need to worry
- Your insurer is an expert in how to deal with suspected subsidence and will send out a specialist to investigate the cause of damage and arrange for repair work if it's required
- Your insurer should continue to offer you cover after your claim has been settled.
Notes to Editors:
1. Allianz policyholder, (name) is a recent victim of subsidence…
2. Your Cover is a new breed of insurance product, offering cover that customers select to precisely match their own lifestyle and circumstances. Using an easy to use 'Quote and Buy' website, Your Cover makes it simple to design and, obtain a quote, and manage your insurance online. The result of two years' research involving thousands of insurance buyers, Your Cover is a product from Allianz Insurance plc, which is a part of the global Allianz Group
3. Your Cover is a part of Allianz Retail, which provides a wide range of personal lines products distributed through brokers, retailers, affinity partners, veterinary practices and direct marketing. For more information please visit to http://www.allianzretail.co.uk.
4. Your Cover quotes are available online at http://www.yourcoverinsurance.co.uk.