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Hi, I'd be so grateful if anyone can advise me in relation to this. I will explain as briefly as possible the relevant details of the situation, and set out a few questions I have. In 2009 we bought our small semi-detached house. We almost were not able to, owing to the fact that we were only just able to find an insurer who would take us on when we declared the existence in the building of a tie bar (as our Buildings Surveyor instructed we must do). We phoned loads of insurers and all put us on hold while speaking to their underwriter, only to come back saying 'Sorry, we don't insure buildings with tie bars'. Finally, and close to giving up, we found an insurer. We've been with this one insurer for 6 years now. No problems ever, until last December I noticed that what had been a hairline crack ascending the side of our house (from the tie bar) when we bought it had grown somewhat, to be up to 3 mm wide in places. It has very gradually widened over the years as cracks do, but seemed to have widened more quickly just recently. This prompted me to remove the thick insulating wallpaper from the corresponding inside wall, which revealed a more worrying crack of about 5 mm. (The previous owner of the house was employed in the home energy efficiency business, so we didn't think it necessarily suspicious when buying that some of the walls had a covering that could easily hide cracks. Also in one room we did remove the covering when we moved in, and the walls had no cracks at all.) On discussion with my partner we thought we had better inform our insurance company of our discovery. First question: Was it not necessary to do this? I phoned them and explained this all to the person I initially spoke to, who said 'You need to be speaking to the Claims department'. I explained that I didn't know if we were wanting to make a claim, that I just thought we were required to inform them of the situation, and I did say that were concerned about it, as one would be. They repeated 'You need to speak to Claims', and put me through. I then explained the whole thing again and was told in a rather reassuring way that 'We will send someone out to look at it'. No one told me, and I didn't know, that I was 'making a claim', by agreeing to this. Perhaps this was simply my ignorance having never had to report anything to a Home insurance company before. A loss adjuster visit was arranged, and his subsequent technical report, entitled 'Subsidence Claim' stated his belief that the crack was owing to thermal movement, and, quote, "we do not consider that the damage is the result of subsidence of the site (or any other insured peril) and as such does not fall within the scope of policy cover." This was in January. Now we have just received our policy renewal documents to discover that our premium has gone up another £150, making it now over £700. For the average house the size of ours, inclusive of Contents cover, we would expect to pay about £200-250 per year, this house is now proving very expensive to insure and we can barely afford it. We are concerned that there are no other insurers who we can turn to, as this was our experience 6 years ago. Also, that there may be no benefit even if there were, since they all have access, I'm told, to a database that will show that we have made a 'Subsidence claim'. I presume this would be very off-putting to an insurer, even despite the fact that the loss adjuster found that there was no subsidence. I have recently tried contacting a couple of Brokers to see if they can find us insurance. So far neither have replied. I suppose I am after any kind of advice that might be useful, but specifically is it correct for us to be said to have 'made a claim' on the policy, when I only intended to inform the insurer of our situation? And can they justify putting up our premium (and do they even have to justify it?) given that the cause of the crack apparently "does not fall within the scope of the policy cover". It feels like - given our lack of alternatives - they can basically hold us to ransom. Many thanks for any help!
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