Subsidence Cover in your Home Insurance

Subsidence is when the earth shifts downward, or subsides, taking whatever lies on top of it with it as it sinks.  This is the opposite of uplift, typically seen after earthquakes when a portion of the earth rises in response to the quake.  Subsidence can occur in areas where there has been extensive mining or natural gas activity, or where the topography is of karst geology. The more common reason, though, is via groundwater movement which takes small amounts of dirt and rock with it.  Over time this can create ground slippage which leads to subsidence.

Problems occur in our modern world when buildings are set atop an area liable to subsidence.  If the earth’s surface sinks, even by a small amount, the foundation of the building can crack, tilt, or shift.  In some cases this change is so large that the building becomes uninhabitable.

Many home insurance policies protect owners against subsidence, but a few list that as an exclusion.  You should be covered for subsidence in any policy, so be sure to read through the entire policy and ask questions if you still don’t know whether or not you are covered.  If not specifically covered, you may need to purchase a rider or even a separate policy that specifically insures you against subsidence. 

While subsidence is rare, it has become more common as our inhabited areas have encroached on peat bogs, wetlands, and areas of fill.  Subsidence, like earthquakes, is almost impossible to predict, so unless you have the cash available to completely replace your home and all contents, subsidence cover in your home insurance should be mandatory.

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