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Subsidence Damage and Climate Change

The scorching summer of last year and the subsequent spike in subsidence claims highlight the potential dangers of hot weather for UK homes.

Here's a breakdown of what you need to know:

Heatwaves & Subsidence

The Met Office has warned that climate change is increasing the likelihood of heatwaves. In 2022, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) revealed that subsidence claims would reach their highest in 16 years, with a whopping £219 million expected to be paid out. A significant 18,000 of the 23,000 claims came after the summer heatwave.

A Record-Breaking Year

Since last year, Allianz noted a 140% rise in subsidence claims in September compared to the previous year. The main culprit? Dried-out clay soils, thanks to the summer of 2022 being the hottest and driest England has seen since records began.

Climate Change's Role

The Met Office has linked the UK's increasingly warm summers to human-caused climate change. In fact, four out of the five hottest summers in England's history have occurred since 2003. They've also pointed out a clear warming trend for the UK over time.

Why Subsidence Occurs

Extended spells of hot and dry weather can lead to subsidence, where the ground beneath a property dries out and sinks. This can result in major structural issues. Homes built on clay soil are particularly at risk, with over 70% of subsidence claims believed to stem from clay shrinkage. It's worth noting that large patches of this type of soil are found in England and Wales.

Other Factors to Consider

While clay soil is a major factor, other elements like rainfall, vegetation, property features, and past claims also play a role in subsidence.

Preparing for the Future

Climate change is expected to cause more unpredictable claim volumes. It's essential for insurers to utilise advanced mapping tools and data models to gauge their risk in extreme subsidence scenarios.

Stay informed and prepared as we navigate the challenges of a changing climate.


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