Wet summer or not, homeowners are urged to check for subsidence

While the British summer may have got off to a damp start, that doesn't mean homes are at a reduced risk of subsidence.

Even though the sun has not been shining consistently, the slightly warmer weather can still cause the ground beneath your home to dry out and become unstable.

If there are a lot of trees nearby, the risk is higher because roots extend in search of water, taking moisture from the soil and drying it out even more.

Last year there were 31,895 claims for subsidence, amounting to a total bill of £162m, says the Association of British Insurers.

Peter Gerrard, head of insurance research at comparison site Moneysupermarket.com, says it is important to watch out for early indications of damage. "The most common sign of subsidence is cracks appearing in the wall, especially around the door and window frames. All buildings naturally experience some cracking, so homeowners or buyers needn't always panic.

"Any cracks wider than your thumb, however, could mean there is subsidence," adds Mr Gerrard. "In this case you should alert your insurer immediately so it can assess the situation.

"I urge homeowners to be as honest as possible and fully update their insurer if there are any signs of subsidence around their home."

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