Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Subsidence Claims Soar after 100F Heatwave Dries out Soil; SOUTHEAST HOMEOWNERS PAY THE PRICE AS [Pounds sterling]390MILLION BILL PUSHES UP PREMIUMS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Subsidence Claims Soar after 100F Heatwave Dries out Soil; SOUTHEAST HOMEOWNERS PAY THE PRICE AS [Pounds sterling]390MILLION BILL PUSHES UP PREMIUMS

Article excerpt

Byline: MIRA BAR-HILLEL

INSURANCE claims for subsidence damage to houses rocketed after last year's record-breaking heatwave, leading to a rise in premiums.

Tens of thousands of homes were damaged after 100F temperatures shrank clay soil, causing properties to shift and crack.

Subsidence claims rose from 32,000 in 2002 to 54,000 last year.

The cost to the industry doubled from [pounds sterling]183 million to [pounds sterling]390 million.

The problem is most acute in the South-East.

Insurers warn that some homeowners risk paying far higher premiums simply because they are in the same postcode as a subsidence "hotspot". Within the M25, 40 per cent of all postcodes are classified as being at risk of subsidence.

Insurer More Th

n said the current system of charging homeowners according to postcode areas could result in lowrisk properties subsidising their high-risk neighbours.

London's worst subsidence hotspots are South Norwood, Upper Norwood, Forest Hill, Mottingham, Eltham and Camberwell.

An example is Grove Park, a pleasant leafy suburban street in Camberwell, where large Victorian semis sell for more than [pounds sterling]700,000. But the dangers lurking beneath its surface make Grove Park among the worst subsidence risks in London.

Typical buildings and contents insurance for a three-bedroom semi is [pounds sterling]453.

The postcode is SE5 8LF.

In nearby Shenley Road, postcode SE5 8ND, the homes are cheaper and less imposing - but the subsidence risk is low, so the premium is only [pounds sterling]359.

"The reason for this is that there are pockets of clay subsoil in these areas and Victorian houses are particularly vulnerable due to their shallow foundations," a spokesman for More Th

n said. To add to the problem, the very trees that give Grove Park its attractive character draw a lot of moisture from the soil and can accelerate the drying-out of clay subsoils. …

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