Subsidence or Structural Damage Insurance Claim

Structural damage to a property can be a scary prospect. Whether you notice cracks forming in your building; your doors or windows start sticking; or movement to the building itself; all of these can cause quite a shock.
Structural damage causes a crack in the wall of a house.

Structural damage claims can be covered under a number of different insured perils: Subsidence, Heave or Landslip. Structural damage cases can be complex and may require expert evidence and technical data.

If you think your building is suffering from structural damage, call PCLA today and arrange for one of our Building Surveyors to visit your property to undertake a no obligation free survey. PCLA will assess your situation for free and help take the stress out of your insurance claim.

What is structural damage?

Structural damage to your home can affect any part of your property. When the foundations, walls or roof become compromised you will have structural damage. Subsidence usually causes structural damage.

The Different types of Structural damage

What is Subsidence?

Subsidence is defined as the downward movement of the ground on which a building sits.
This movement is independent of the building itself. Subsidence occurs when your property starts to sink into the ground’s surface, causing damage to your foundations and manifests itself with cracking to the building.

If the ground beneath your property starts to dry out and shrink, it will cause subsidence. This could be caused by long periods of dry weather or large trees and shrubs soaking up water, both of which could increase the risk of subsidence at your property. Leaking drains are also a known cause of subsidence.

What is Heave?

Heave is the opposite of subsidence and occurs due to ground swelling and pushing the building upwards. Heave can occur when trees are removed around the building increasing the moisture content in the soil and causing the ground to expand.

What is a Landslip?

As the name suggests, Landslip is when the land on which the building sits begins to fall away. This can occur for a number of reasons including erosion or inadequate structures to retain the land.

Signs Of Structural damage

No one likes to find a crack in their wall. More often than not, homeowners who believe they have signs of subsidence are actually seeing cracks caused by natural shrinkage or swelling. If you suspect subsidence at your house it’s important to get a trained professional, such as PCLA, to inspect the damage before jumping to conclusions.

PCLA offer a free call out service to inspect the damage and will provide expert advice on how best to proceed with your insurance claim.

How can PCLA help you make a structural damage claim?

PCLA have a team of qualified Building Surveyors who can assess the damage at your property to determine if Subsidence, Heave or Landslip are occurring.
We can assess the movement and undertake tests to see if this issue is historic, seasonal, or ongoing.

If needed PCLA can also help to arrange emergency repairs, plumbers, leak detectors, Structural Engineers etc if necessary and give advice as to how best secure your property from any further further movement or damage.

Does homeowner’s insurance cover subsidence or structural damage?

Ask PCLA to check your home insurance policy for you. Insurers will likely cover you for accidents like fires and floods, as well as heave and subsidence. Settlement is not usually covered as standard, nor long-term structural damage that’s been developing for some time.

A crack develops in the wall of a house after structural damage occurs.

When should I call the insurance company if I suspect structural damage?

You should contact PCLA as soon as possible and before you contact your insurance company. As professional loss assessors, it is our job to make sure your claim is submitted properly and as fast as possible. However, If you have already contacted your insurer, PCLA can still be appointed at any stage of the claim.

How do you deal with an insurance company after a structural damage incident?

PCLA take the stress out of dealing with insurance companies. It’s our job to liaise with the insurance company on your behalf. We’ll keep you up to date on the progress of your claim. You can contact us at any time to discuss your case.

PCLA will notify the insurer of your loss and arrange to meet with their appointed Loss Adjuster. As qualified Building Surveyors, PCLA have the skill and expertise to assess any damage that has been sustained to your property.

We compile fully costed schedules of the damage which form the basis of the claim which we use in the negotiation with your insurer. There is nothing for you to do and PCLA take away all the stress of
dealing with your insurer.

How do I make a structural damage insurance claim?

The easiest way to make a structural damage claim is to get PCLA to do it for you. Our team manages the claims process on your behalf, so you do not have to.

PCLA will check your insurance policy documents to confirm the cover you have in place. We will assess the damage to your property and how this was caused to ensure that this is not something that would be excluded by your Insurer.

As qualified Building Surveyors and using the most up to date technology, PCLA will undertake a full site survey to assess the extent of damage within it and provide an indication of the cause. PCLA will then compile a schedule of loss based on the damage uncovered that is presented to your insurer.

If you appoint PCLA as soon as possible, we can start building your case and answering your questions. We will present your claim in the best way possible to ensure you receive your full entitlement under the terms of your policy.

How do structural damage claims work?

The first thing you need to do is appoint PCLA to act on your behalf. PCLA will notify your insurance company to start your claim. Our team of professional loss assessors will handle the entire claims process for you. Our aim is to ensure your claim is handled as efficiently as possible meaning your property can be reinstated as soon as possible.

What happens when I have a Structural damage claim?

After you appoint PCLA, we review your policy and, if cover is in place, will contact the insurance company to notify them of the incident. The insurer may ask for photos of the incident or a report on the damage, PCLA can provide this if needed. If a Loss Adjuster is appointed by the insurer, PCLA will liaise with them and present them with all claim details required. PCLA will meet with the Loss Adjuster on site if necessary to go over the circumstances of the loss and damage. PCLA will compile a fully costed schedule of claim using current market rates based on the damage evidenced to the property, meaning there is no need for you to obtain builders quotations to present to your Insurer. PCLA will then negotiate the best possible settlement for you under the terms of your insurance policy.

How do I make sure I get what my policy entitles me to?

Contact PCLA as soon as possible. We will assess the damage to your property, cost the works required and negotiate with your insurer. That is why, with PCLA acting on your behalf, we can ensure you get everything you are entitled to under your insurance policy.

Should you use a Loss Assessor?

Making an insurance claim is very time consuming and often frustrating. At PCLA, we know from experience that the insurance claims process can be extremely frustrating. We’re here to help. As experienced loss assessors we work on your behalf to manage the entire claim process, so you don’t have to, and to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to.

Why are Structural damage claims rejected?

It is important to read the terms and conditions of your insurance policy to understand what is and is not covered. The main reason that structural damage cases are rejected is because the event that led to the damage is not one covered by the policy. For instance, what you may think of as subsidence may actually only be settlement. PCLA have the expertise and knowledge to guide you in the best way possible through your Insurance claim.

What is buildings insurance?

structural damage causes a crack in a wall towards a window.Buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing damage to the structure of your property. Garages, sheds and fences are also covered, as well as the cost of replacing items such as pipes, cables and drains.
Your insurance should cover the full cost of rebuilding your house. This also includes the costs of demolition, site clearance, and architects’ fees.

Buildings insurance usually covers loss or damage caused by:

  • fire, explosion, storms, floods, earthquakes
  • theft, attempted theft and vandalism
  • frozen and burst pipes
  • fallen trees, lampposts, aerials or satellite dishes
  • subsidence
  • vehicle or aircraft collisions.

How long does it take to settle a structural damage insurance claim?

The process to settle a structural damage claim can be complex but with PCLA working on your behalf we can take away the stress and hassle and deal with the case from start to finish on your behalf.

After a structural damage incident is noticed it is typical that an insurer would wish to monitor the movement to the property to see if the damage is ongoing or historic. If found to be historic movement it could just be a case of filling in and strengthening any cracking. If the matter is ongoing, then support to the foundations may be required. PCLA can assist you through this process and give guidance as to how the matter will be moved forward.

PCLA will then liaise with your insurer and ensure your claim is dealt with promptly and fairly. All aspects of the claim are handled by PCLA and we work on your behalf to ensure the process is as seamless and stress free as possible.

Is the damage caused by Subsidence or settlement?

  • Is the property older than 10 – 15 years? Typically a building has settled after this time so if new cracks form at this stage it may be more likely to be subsidence
    Are the cracks less than 1-2mm? If so this could be the very early stages of subsidence or if they do not get much wider, more likely due to settlement.
  • Are the cracks diagonal and get wider as they go higher? This may be more likely to be an indication of subsidence.
  • Do the cracks go through the walls of the property and match up with cracking visible on the outside walls? This could be an indication of subsidence of the foundations.
  • Has there been any drains leaking at the property? If so, the cracks may be subsidence as the soil below the foundations has been washed washed
  • Are there any large trees in the vicinity of the property? This can be an indication that the damage is subsidence as they have sucked moisture from the soil causing it to shrink.

We offer help and advice for all instances of Commercial or Domestic Property Damage. Use the links below to learn more about how a loss assessor can take the stress out of your insurance claim.