Our home has a "history" of subsidence when, in 1989, the house was adversely affected by the close proximity of trees whose roots were drawing water from beneath the house. As our home dates from the Victorian period when foundations were not as substantial as contemporary builds, cracks developed on the front and back walls. Removal of the trees corrected the problem, but now our home has an insurance history which tends to frighten the majority of companies.
This is further complicated since 2007 by an industry fear of any properties near a watercourse. I have been asked if we live within 30m, 150m, 250m, even 1000m of a watercourse that has flooded in the past. Despite the fact that our house has never been flooded, our proximity to the local dyke which affected our neighbours, severely restricted our ability to obtain insurance. Until we were given your telephone number by the National Flood Forum, no one wanted to know about our flood defences since 2007 or steps that the local council had taken to minimize backflow due to a silted up road bridge and the cleaning of local drains.
We're still getting junk mail advertising discounted prices for home insurance, but the minute you tell the "advisor" at Saga, Churchill, More Than and others that you have history, they don't want to know. Or if a company is willing to give a quote, it can be as much as £1400 for a small, three-bedroom house. We were insured through Saga for 12 months. When our renewal papers arrived, I noticed that one of the declarations had changed from "The property has never been flooded" (2008) to "the property is not within 150m of a watercourse that has flooded" (2009). When I informed them that the declaration was now a Yes, Saga refunded part payment without actually saying that the policy was cancelled. My oversight regarding this credit at that time meant that we were without cover for 11 months.
Millions of people in the UK have a history of subsidence, 80% due to trees. Millions of people also live near streams and rivers and, with more unpredictable weather due to climate change, those people often find themselves unable to obtain affordable cover. I know that 2 of our neighbours have no insurance at this time.
Although our new policy is a bit more expensive than in the past, it is not excessive considering that the underwriters are assuming a slightly elevated level of risk. Neil, thank you for helping us through a very worrying and frustrating period.