Subsidence occurred before policy came into force – insurer denies liability

Subsidence Insurance Buildings insurance

We looked into whether ground movement damage that predated the customer’s policy had continued after the policy began.

What happened

Kevin complained to us when his insurer rejected his claim for subsidence damage. The insurer thought Kevin's house had been exhibiting cracks and distortions for many years, long before its own policy came into force.

How we helped

We set about establishing whether the damage continued to occur after the start of the policy. The evidence was that the movement and damage was progressive. That meant that the property had been damaged by an insured event during the period when Kevin was insured. This triggered the insurer's liability.

Under most policies, it’s the insurer's liability to repair or pay for the repair of damage that occurred after the start of its policy. This doesn’t include any damage that predates the policy. If the insurer can distinguish between the two sets of damage, it’s entitled to do that. However, in this case, it wasn’t possible to do so.

We thought stabilisation was needed just as much to repair the damage that occurred during the insured period, as it was to repair earlier damage. 

Putting things right

We said that the insurer would have to pay for the repair of all the damage to meet its liability for the damage that had occurred since it had started to cover the property. This would include the cost of stabilisation if necessary.