Flood, subsidence and storms… your home is at risk from climate chaos so take action now

London: Plaistow hit with flash flooding after heavy downpours

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Household flood claims have risen fivefold over the last year, with subsidence claims up sharply too. Homeowners are on the frontline of climate change and should expect to see higher insurance premiums, particularly if their home is affected.

Latest figures from Halifax Home Insurance show a 253 percent increase in flood claims between August 2019 and 2020, as Storm Francis battered the country.

It expects the same numbers this year, due to more nationwide downpours.

Halifax’s senior claims manager Tim Downes said: “During warmer weather, land surface heats up causing storms and large bursts of rain to fall within short periods of time.”

Downes added that more deluges mean summer flooding is no longer confined to flood plains: “Homeowners who aren’t typically at risk of flooding could be affected, making the potential consequences more dangerous.”

Rain and heatwaves are also causing the land to expand and shrink, unsettling property foundations.

LV= General Insurance has reported a 49 percent rise in claims for subsidence in the last year.

Claims director Martin Milliner warned this would continue as summers get hotter.

As last month was the hottest on record, homeowners should look for subsidence clues such as stuck doors and cracked walls.

Jimmy Williams, chief executive of insurer Urban Jungle, said the housing boom has highlighted the scale of the threat, as property surveys unearth issues.

He added: “Insurance companies are already considering exiting or scaling back subsidence cover.”

Such claims can cost between £30,000 and £500,000, with a typical excess of £1,000. Those with a history of subsidence face higher premiums or a larger excess on future claims.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that heatwaves, drought and flooding are only going to intensify, and Britons are already feeling the impact.

These tips from Halifax Home Insurance may help those whose homes are affected by flooding.

Collect torches, bulbs and batteries, home insurance documents, emergency and insurer contact details, tinned food, warm clothing and blankets to put in an emergency kit.

Turn off the mains supplies of electricity, water and gas. Unplug all electrical items and move upstairs or to a spot as high up as possible.

Disconnect pipes to washing machine and dishwashers. Move all belongings of value upstairs or as high as you can place them.

Photograph damaged items as it may help your insurer to settle a claim and, importantly, check you have the right level of home insurance.

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Millions of Britons do not know what subsidence is or how to detect it, insurer LV= found.

Signs of subsidence include distinctive diagonal cracks at the edges of windows and doors. These are usually around 3mm thick or thicker than a 10p coin, and are wider at the top than the bottom.

Other signs are doors or windows sticking for no reason, or closing easily in winter but not in summer, and tearing wallpaper that is not caused by damp.

Precautionary measures include removing or pruning trees and shrubbery that soak up ground moisture.

Removing patios or concrete to allow rainwater to drain into the ground may also help. Mr Milliner added: “Porous materials such as gravel or grass allow water to drain naturally.”

Clay shrinkage, as land beneath properties dries out, and soil erosion account for more than nine in 10 claims.

Subsidence can also be caused by water washing away or softening the soil under your house, so check gutters, pipes and drains for leaks.

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