U&M Group

Does It Affect Your Insurance if Your House Is Underpinned?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 AT 03:42PM

If you’re thinking of buying a house that’s been underpinned due to subsidence, people may suggest you’ll find insuring it difficult and expensive. You may even be advised by well-meaning friends not to have your existing house subsidised, for much the same reasons.

The second case flies in the face of reason since even if the warnings were true, the property will still be far safer after underpinning. But is it really true that an underpinned home is harder to insure?

What Is Underpinning?

Underpinning can describe various techniques of strengthening a building’s foundations. This could be done for a number of reasons — subsidence (where the structure is slipping into the weak ground) is the most common, but a building might also be underpinned to provide extra support for a substantial extension.

The two most common methods are mass concrete underpinning and piling. The mass concrete method, also known as traditional underpinning, involves trenches being dug out under the building and filled with concrete.

While this is still the best solution in some cases, it’s being largely replaced by mini-piling, where piles are drilled or driven down to a level where the ground is stronger. The piles then transfer the building’s weight down to the strong soil or bedrock.

Will Underpinning Affect My Insurance?

Insurers tend to be wary of any structure that has ever suffered from subsidence. While underpinning should be seen as a problem solved, they can still be nervous that the subsidence could return.

In the past, that has tended to mean insurance for an underpinned home has been hard to get and more expensive. However, the situation has improved in recent years.

While many mainstream insurance companies are still reluctant to touch an underpinned property, an increasing number recognise that it’s not always bad. Some companies have dedicated underpinning teams, while there are also specialist brokers.

You may need to get specified work done, such as having your drains tested to ensure they’re watertight. However, if you can demonstrate that the underpinning has done its job, you can often find insurance at a reasonable price.

A Good Job Is Essential

This depends, of course, on the insurer being satisfied that the underpinning is secure, making the further risk to the building acceptably low. Consequently, it’s essential that you’ve had an expert job done, not a fix-up by a general builder.

If you want to know more about how specialist underpinning can make your home secure and keep your insurance costs down, feel free to get in touch with us.