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Subsidence View - July 2017

Driven by the hot temperatures, the MORECS measure of Soil Moisture Deficit currently lies between the two significant surge years of 2003 and 2006.The current Subsidence Surge Risk is now assessed as "Rising Amber", but will 2017 develop into a full blown event year?
Summer arrived with a bang during June, with a heatwave delivering the hottest June temperatures for 40 years. In terms of rainfall the UK was split, with wetter than average rainfall in the north, but average rainfall in the clay soil areas of south east England (where most of the rainfall occurred on just 2 days during the month).
Driven by the hot temperatures, the MORECS measure of Soil Moisture Deficit took another significant step upwards remaining high for the time of year and currently lying between the two significant surge years of 2003 and 2006.
The MORECS looks likely to reach its maximum by the end of July, so does this mean there will be large surge of claims? Well both the 2006 and 2003 surges were triggered by record breaking temperatures in July and August respectively. However, the last time the maximum MORECS was reached in 2011 there was a significant increase in claims - but no surge - as temperatures/rainfall in July and August were fairly average.
So what will July/August bring? St Swithin's Day falls on the 15th and folk law says whatever the weather is like on that day, it will continue for the next 40 days and nights. Although the saying is not literally correct, some forecasters consider there is an element of truth in it because by this time of the year the summer weather patterns are established.
The Weather Outlook (TWO) summer forecast has now been updated and notes the following:
The latest Met Office 30 day forecast notes the following:
  • Monday 10 Jul 2017 to Wednesday 19 Jul 2017:Unsettled and cooler weather affecting the UK. Thereafter, more dry, settled and warm conditions are likely to become more prevalent as we look towards the second half of July.
  • Thursday 20 Jul 2017 to Thursday 3 Aug 2017:Longer dry and warm spells may become more prevalent across much of the UK through the second half of July, and perhaps continuing into August...temperatures may be around average in the northwest, in contrast to some warmer spells particularly in the southeast.
BVS consider that the subsidence surge risk is continuing to rise:
  • BVS have seen the first example of brand new clay shrinkage subsidence which has occurred this year, triggered by the June heatwave. Many more properties could be "on the edge".
  • The long term forecast for the 2nd half of the summer is warmer/drier than average
  • The next surge is statistically overdue
The deciding factor will be what actually happens next, another heatwave or a prolonged period of rain?  On this basis, the surge risk remains and is currently assessed as "Rising Amber".  At this stage, our prediction for 2017 is for ABI claim numbers to be significantly higher than the previous 3 year average of 17,000 and we recommend that insurers urgently review their surge response plans.
If you would like to talk to us about how Building Validation Solutions can help with your subsidence surge plan or improve you approach to subsidence claims generally, please contact Giles Carter on