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Subsidence View - July 2018

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 "High Amber", but will 2018 develop into a full blown event year?



Summer arrived with a bang during June, with a heatwave delivering the driest June in the clay soil areas of the south east on record. Although May rainfall was average, most of this fell on just 2 days during the month, so there has now been virtually no rain for 8 weeks.
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. All the weather prediction agencies are in agreement that the current heatwave will continue into at least the first 2 weeks of July.
The Weather Outlook (TWO) gave the following prediction in their Wimbeldon forecast:
The latest Met Office 30 day forecast notes the following:
  • UK Outlook for Thursday 19 Jul 2018 to Thursday 2 Aug 2018: For the last third of July it looks as though fine weather will probably dominate across the bulk of UK, with mostly dry, sunny and warm conditions, especially in the south. However, there are likely to be interludes of more unsettled weather, when weather fronts arrive from the west and northwest, or when thundery showers spread from the south. There are very tentative signs that there may some more generally unsettled weather conditions into the start of August. Temperatures overall are likely to be well above average, with some further very warm or hot spells possible, but with temperatures returning nearer to average at times in any more changeable spells.
BVS consider there will now be a significant upturn in subsidence claims based on the following:
  • 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 deciding factor for a surge will be what actually happens next, another heatwave or a prolonged period of rain?  On this basis, the surge risk is currently assessed as "High Amber" and our prediction for 2018 is for ABI claim numbers to be significantly higher than the previous 3 year average of 16,000. 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