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Subsidence View - November 2016

Subsidence View: November 2016

 
Fresh crack damage to properties caused by clay shrinkage subsidence has occurred, with a 70% uplift of claims received by insurers during September and October. What has caused this peak and is there more to come?
 
At the recent Subsidence Forum Conference, chairman Robert Withers noted that industry wide weekly instructions during September and October had reportedly increased by 70% compared to the January to August average. Whilst this is certainly not a subsidence surge – 2003 saw a 350% increase – early indications are that 2016 will see the biggest relative increase since 2009, which saw numbers increase by 100%.
 
Unusually, damage has been quite localised in the south east. This can be explained by the Met Office rainfall statistics which show the clay soil areas of the south east have been much drier – remember the "absolute drought" recorded in August - than other areas of the country which also have clay soils.
 
Table: Met Office Precipitation Data (2016 versus 1961-1990 average)
 
Month South East England Central England North East England South West England
October 40% 79% 77% 46%
September 75% 89% 68% 112%
August 54% 76% 116% 94%
July 45% 67% 99% 49%
 
But low rainfall is just one of the ingredients. The numerous mini heatwaves - with temperatures peaking at a sweltering 34.4 degrees in Gravesend, Kent - was the other key factor. Accordingly, some insurers with large exposure in the south east have received an uplift in claim numbers during September and October, whereas others have seen little change to their normal loss levels.  And it could have been worse - looking back to the early summer, rainfall in June was 212% of average in the south east - which has helped to avoid a much more significant claims uplift.
 
Based on our experience of previous years, claim volumes are now likely to have peaked. However, we expect new claim volumes in November to remain around 30% higher than the Jan-August average.
 
Building Validation Solutions currently have additional subsidence claim handling capacity, so please contact Giles Carter on g.carter@bv-solutions.co.uk to discuss how we could help your customers if their property is affected.