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Subsidence View - February 2019

Welcome to the first "Subsidence View" for 2019. In this issue we take a retrospective look at subsidence numbers in 2018 and take an early look at what 2019 has in store.
Last year... 2018 has been confirmed as the biggest relative subsidence surge (versus business as usual numbers) since 2003, with the insurance press reporting"Q3 saw a 350% surge in subsidence claims according to figures from the Association of British Insurers. In July, August and September 10,000 households made claims worth £64 million, versus 2500 claims worth £14 million in the previous three months".
The climatic conditions were very similar to the surge of 2003, with clay shrinkage subsidence claims not only being recorded in the traditional London Clay areas of the south east, but also occurring in the shrinkable drift soils of the Midlands, Yorkshire, the North West, North East and South Wales.
The clay rehydration process started well, with above average rainfall in the south east in November and December 2018, but has stalled somewhat in January with only 50% recorded.  
So what of 2019... Statistically, the 2018 surge was overdue. If the dry winter weather continues, it's possible that we will enter the new growing season with a soil moisture deficit, which could lead to an early upturn with the right spring weather conditions. A "double surge" cannot be ruled out - remember 1995/96. However, the 2003 and 2006 surges were both followed by wet summers. What we do know is that:
  • an extended period of exceptionally hot, dry weather between June-September will be the deciding factor.
  •  the 2006 surge followed a dry and mild winter similar to 2018/19 with new claim instructions peaking in July, which was unusually early. So following the dry winter, it will be very important for insurers to monitor the situation closely and be prepared for the risk of an early uplift.
If you would like to talk to us about how Building Validation Solutions can help improve you approach to subsidence claims generally, please contact Giles Carter on