Help with insurance company regarding subsidence

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    Help with insurance company regarding subsidence

    Hello everyone, I am new to this forum and just looking for advice or experience. I do apologise for the long story its just to put my situation into context.
    I have bought a property a few years back and had it rented out. Since early 2015 the door started sticking and would not open or close. I put in a claim for suspected subsidence with my insurers and they did everything in their power to make sure I did not go ahead with the claim. Even to the point in telling me not to pursue claim as I will be forced to pay £1000 excess and have the stigma of a subsidence claim on my records. I ignored their advice and forced them to proceed.

    Anyway as the whole process was taking so long, I paid for the door to be realigned as I had a tenant stuck in the middle of this, the builder who did the job gave me his opinion that its just a door alignment issue and does not believe it is subsidence. Following his advice I didn't bother to pursue my insurers as they didn't even get back to me with my situation on the claim until 9 months later.
    9 months go past and the door is sticking again and this time I was told the frame is bending out of place and it looks like there is a major problem with the building. I get back onto my insurers and began a complaints procedure against them and their underwriters for the time wasting they have caused as it has taken 8/9 months and a surveyor has just come out.
    Now they have offered me compensation of a few hundred pounds for the length of time it has taken, which I have refused as its just a buy off to keep me quiet.
    My problem now is that their surveyor says he does not know if its subsidence or settlement over time and thinks the problem has occurred over a long period but would not comment on the time frame. And now the insurers are using that as an escape clause to get out of paying for the repair. I am arguing they cannot take 9 months to bring out a surveyor and then claim that the problem is a long term issue.

    Now i am concerned that they will not pay for the repairs. If anyone has any advice on what i should do i would be very grateful..

    #2
    "surveyor says he does not know if its subsidence or settlement over time and thinks the problem has occurred over a long period but would not comment on the time frame"

    The insurance company can only go by the words of the surveyor, and nothing else.

    O.K. So you have fitted a new door frame and possible new door, and that will cost less than the £ 1000 excess which is normal on policies.

    Move on, forget it till the house starts leaning, THEN you know you have a problem, but for the moment, the surveyor can't give a conclusion, so the insurance can't act.

    Comment


      #3
      If you believe the Surveyor (their conclusions, I really mean) is independent then what can you do? If you believe the Surveyor is not independent, then you could employ your own... but what is the danger of them saying the same thing? If the problem gets worse then you'd suspect it also becomes more expensive... so you now have a semi-progressed claim on the record with your Insurer... you would think that is good ammunition if the situation gets worse. I think you should've been more on the ball in proactively communicating with your Insurer... you are the one that, effectively, let the trail go cold on this, I think.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks for your responses Ram and Hippo

        I will start with Ram, the place is already leaning as the door had to get fixed twice now and the frame is distorting towards the building lean. I cannot keep changing a door as it costs alot of money and is not a viable long term solution.

        To Hippogriff, I agree it is good ammunition in my case as its been so long and im hoping a financial ombudsman will consider my case as they have taken the better part of a year to turn up. I partly agree with you that i am partly to blame for it taking so long. As I said i was so deflated after attempting to start a claim for subsidence that i personally thought they did not even register my claim as my insurers sound like "cowboys". They honestly did everything in their power to shut my claim down without even visiting the property.... so when the builder said there is no need to worry i took his word on it and moved on without grasping the situation. I am now just hoping the financial ombudsman will make a judgement for my case if the insurers do not play ball..

        Comment


          #5
          What other damage is there? If it is only one door then it would suggest something localised rather than major subsidence.

          Get a local Structural Engineer to inspect the property. Explain the history. The Enigneer may need to do some opening up / monitoring over a period of time. You can then send this information to the Insurance Provider. Alternatively, the Engineer may identify an issue causing the 'dropping door' which is not subsidence.
          There is always scope for misinterpretation.

          If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

          Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

          Comment


            #6
            Badger,

            I have recently had dealings with a surveyor from a bank who when I presented a potential claim for subsidence threatened me that if I pursued a claim against his company he would write my property off as having subsidence which he said would blight my property, wipe thousands of pounds off it's value make it harder to sell, and make it un-mortgageable.

            On the other hand, he then said, that if I withdrew my claim he would write my house up as "Has suffered minor settlement to the garage, all now settled with no threat of further movement, and with no implications for the house." He made the same threat to my neighbour, a solicitor. Another surveyor who came around when I told him the name of the bent surveyor, his jaw dropped. Not a good poker player. He told me that he knew this character, had worked with him, and that "He had a reputation of for keeping a clear desk and making claims go away".

            I have been wondering how to proceed, maybe you could pm me, we can discuss if we have been dealing with the same corrupt character? I will not name him, but his first initial is "S". If it is not the same I will deal with my claim anyway.

            pm
            Before acting on forum advice, you may wish to consult an expert, someone who has all the relevant facts, and who accepts liability for their advice.

            Comment


              #7
              Hi Mk1fan and property mongrel thank you for both your replies and suggestions.
              To property mongrel I have personal messaged you and would like to hear your situation and any ideas you may have on dealing with subsidence.

              To MK1fan, the entire facing wall section as the door has signs of subsidence, this includes windows and even the flooring as its not level, this was highlighted by the surveyor. However he did not know whether it was subsidence or settlement and under pressure from me he has just slightly tipped his opinion towards it being subsidence as the door keeps sticking even after it is aligned however he has told me he is unsure without further investigations. My problem at the moment is he says his opinion is just guess work without proper ground checks and trial pits being done. And the insurance is refusing to do this as they believe the problem is a long term issue (ie before i took out the insurance) and which ever issue it is: subsidence or settlement they are saying its not happened in the year.

              Comment


                #8
                Speak to a local Structural Engineer. If it is just the front elevation then underpinning this would be very simple process of digging out pits and back filling with concrete. It's not rocket science. The hardest part would be mixing the concrete up. If you do it one section at a time then it is perfectly possible to DIY it or for a jobbing builder to do. Concrete is £100 a cubic metre and a day to dig out and fill a cubic metre. Disposal of the spoil - landscaping needed in the property or a neighbours house?

                Or you can spend the next months getting stressed trying to get the insurance company to pony up and then have it on record that the property has had subsidence.
                There is always scope for misinterpretation.

                If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

                Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Absolutely agree with mk1 fan. Once your property is registered with subsidence then selling will always be an issue and at a knock down price - I know I've bought a couple at bargain prices and got Ready Mix in.

                  Why stress yourselves with all this legal/insurance twoddle. I would only ever claim on a policy if I had a total or catastrophic loss - the knock on effect is not worth it. Learn building and what can go wrong is my recommendation.



                  Freedom at the point of zero............

                  Comment


                    #10
                    To MK1 thanks for your advice, I have booked a structural engineer as so i can have a unbiased opinion that is not directly linked to the insurers.
                    You have caught my attention when you said i should attempt to fix the subsidence myself. This idea never dawned on me as all the engineers i have spoken to make it sound like highly specialised work that needs careful planning and specialised equipment. Do you know anyone who has done this sort of work before by themselves and was able to stabilise their property??

                    To Interlaken I hate claiming on insurance as usually the repercussions outweigh the payouts or the repairs, i am only proceeding down this path as the subsidence is not good and cannot be ignored. I am hoping i do not live to regret this decision though.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Take a look online on 'how to underpin your house' - there are loads of vids and ideas out there for the novice. I would get someone in to do the digging/filling in - it is a very basic groundworks exercise.



                      Freedom at the point of zero............

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Level of difficulty depends on what repair is appropriate. Thats for the S Eng to suggest.

                        If is just a 'basic' sequenced dig and back fill then it isn't very hard. Its the associated insurances and indemnities that should be in place / maintained for the works that costs money.

                        The above is certainly doable by a competent DIYer - just do it one hole at a time rather than multiple.
                        There is always scope for misinterpretation.

                        If my posts can be interpreted in two ways, one that makes you feel angry and one that doesn't, I meant the latter.

                        Everyday is an opportunity to learn something new.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Help with insurance company regarding subsidence

                          Hello everyone, i did a post 4 months back regarding the possibility of subsidence in my property.
                          A quick background on the situation - last march i suspected subsidence in the property and contacted my insurers, the front door was sticking and the door frame was warping. To cut a long story short, the insurers ignored my claim till October and i was forced to book my own subsidence expert at high cost to identify if there is subsidence. My expert believed a problem was present and when i got back on the insurers they finally got someone out and claimed any evidence of subsidence was a long term issue. Obviously i argued that they took almost 8 months to turn up and cannot claim that as its hypocritical.
                          Now after much argument, another door on the opposite side of the property is sticking and the door frame distorting, the insurers are now waiting on the result of level monitoring on the property, but this is going to take another 6 months at least, and when i spoke to one of their experts today he said any movement of the building will not necessarily mean subsidence as they have a scale, and they will deem subsidence after a certain amount of movement. I am now stuck on what to do as they seem to move the goal posts every time i seem to get anywhere, i cannot wait 6 months as the doors as damaging and it seems to me that the problem is accelerating.
                          Is this a standard insurance thing or are mine deliberately being difficult. I just want what i paid for, I thought insurance was supposed to cover for this sort of sinario.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I really hope you haven't got subsidence. If you have got it and eventually remedy works are undertaken - your insurance premiums will jump through the roof and if ever you go to sell your property - you will probably have to take a drop in market value.

                            If the repair cost doesn't run into too much money - you might be better off sorting the issue yourself, rather than having it officially logged as a subsidence claim.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Hi Claymore, I think all doubt has gone from my mind as to whether the property has subsidence. I have my own expert that says there is a high possibility of subsidence, both the front and rear door frames are warping and not opening and closing properly and the floors have a slight lean on them. The problem at this stage is that most people i speak to agree it is subsidence, but the insurers definition of subsidence is vastly different to any real world scenario. I have an awful feeling they will weasel their way out of a repair job even with the results of the building level monitoring.

                              Comment

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