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My house is subsiding. I'm insured and have a clause that say's we will pay the first £1000.00 if I claim. My insurance company have refused to pay, saying it is wear and tear not subsidence. This is rubbish as we have had 3 structural engineer reports to say that it is indeed subsidence. We then took it to the Insurance ombudsman, who after nearly two years of waiting have turned our claim down as well. I don't know where to go from here. Can any one give me an idea? I can supply lots more detail if required.

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Hello and Welcome,

 

I'll move this thread to the appropriate Forum.

 

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Scott.


 
 

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My house is subsiding. I'm insured and have a clause that say's we will pay the first £1000.00 if I claim. My insurance company have refused to pay, saying it is wear and tear not subsidence. This is rubbish as we have had 3 structural engineer reports to say that it is indeed subsidence. We then took it to the Insurance ombudsman, who after nearly two years of waiting have turned our claim down as well. I don't know where to go from here. Can any one give me an idea? I can supply lots more detail if required.

 

 

Sounds very odd to me. 3 Strutural engineers reports stating that the house has subsidence and both the Insurers and FOS say there is no claim.

 

If the house has settlement, then this is normal wear and tear, not subsidence.

 

If you are certain the house has subsidence and that your Insurance compant are not meeting your contractural rights, then got to see a solicitor. A Solicitor will have a look at all the information to decide what the best way forward is.


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Did you ask an Ombudsman to look at it after the adjudicators response?

The insurer must have some very strong evidence to suggest it is not subsidence if you have 3 reports to back you up, or failing that if there is movement, it is excluded as per the terms?

 

More info please.

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Yes, the Ombudsman has looked at it and has turned it down. I live on the fens and the land is constantly being drained consquently the soil is shrinking. The water table fluctuates all the time especially during very wet weather, when the fen is drained so the soil shrinks away as well. The oak pilings that the house is built on became exposed to the air consequently they started to decay. In my opinion the subsidence came first

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In any event the only way forward for you is to go and see a firm of solicitors who specialise in property and insurance disputes such as yours. It is likely that a firm will take it on as they will be able to recover their costs due to the likely high value of the claim and they will probably do it on a no win no fee basis (CFA) so you wouldn't lose out.

 

The insurers have given their decision and been backed up by the FOS. As such, your solicitors will need to serve proceedings on your insurers to try and force a payment on the policy, although there are no guarantees it will work and will probably take a long time to settle.

 

Another option you my be able to go down is to try and find out who or what has been draining the land. If natural then c'est la vie, but if a commercial entity has drained the land and that can be traced and shown to be responsible, then you may have a cause of action against them in respect of the damage to your house. Again, a lawyer would be able to look into this more accurately.

 

Another thought - how long have you had your house? If it only a reasonably short period did the surveyors bring any problems to your attention in regards to subsidence/drainage/rotting supports? If not and you can prove that the damage to the house was forseeable then you may have a cause of action against the surveyors/solicitors undertaken on your purchase.

 

Hope some of this helps, but go and see a solicitor ASAP. Remember you only have a limited time by which to bring proceedings in regards to property damage and if none brought in time, your claim will be statute barred.

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I agree with the above obout your legal options, be aware that solicitors don't always take claims on a CFA basis, there has to be reasonable prospects of success. At the very least they can gage this for you. Claiming outisde a CFA could be very costly.

The insurer will defend this if they are prepared to let the FOS get their hands on it. Good luck.

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I live on the fens, the land is constantly being drained otherwise it would flood. This problem is very common in this area. What is the best way to find the right kind of solicitor to take on this problem?

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Use this link:-

 

The Law Society - Find a solicitor

 

just type in your postcode and then do a search for areas of law either in Civil Litigation or Insurance Law. Ask them if they can give you specific advice about your problem on a CFA. if not, get them to suggest another firm as they all know each other.

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Thanks for your promt reply, I will start making enquiries. I have the awful feeling that they will be asking for large amounts of money to start this and then I will get no where, but I will press on. I just feel this is such an injust decision......

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Please excuse my ignorance but what does CFA stand for?

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It is Conditional Fee Agreement. Technical term for a no win no fee agreement (although no such thing exists in reality)

 

There should be a law firm that will take this on a CFA on the basis that it will fall into the multi-track and so they can recover the costs if successful.

 

Your only problem will be, as always, is if you do not have a good case as no-one will touch it with a barge poll, but at least you know you have done all that you can.

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Thanks for that info. I will give it a go.....

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Fairy Wings

 

Don't forget to inform your mortgage company of the situation, if you hold a mortgage. It is a condition of your mortgage to advise them of such situations.

 

It is possible the mortgage company might also wish to pursue this legally, as the problem affecting the property, could have an affect on the its' future saleability.

 

Phone the mortgage companies customer service helpline to discuss this.


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Agreed about the mortgage although you will have to pay your mortgage even if the house ends up as a pile of rubble.

 

However, UncleBulgaria has also given me an idea to check your insurance policies, car, house, contents, mortgage etc for legal expenses insurance which may cover any litigation costs.

Edited by Endymion

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My house insurance company does legal expenses as part of its cover. But surely I would be asking them to pay for legal advice against them?

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That's their problem not yours! I would still ask. They can only say no.

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My house insurance company does legal expenses as part of its cover. But surely I would be asking them to pay for legal advice against them?

 

Can you provide a bit of info regarding the following ?

 

House buying process i.e. How long ago did you buy the house, what surveys did you have, any other reports required e.g. environmental reports.

 

Insurance buying process. How did you arrange the current Insurance? Have you always had the same policy/Insurers, since you bought the house ?

 

When you ask for legal advice, they will be wanting a lot of information, so they can look into this, in a number of ways.

 

I have seen cases where the mortgage company have found errors in surveys they commisioned as part of the buying process. In one case, the house was in a dangerous state, so the mortgage company took responsibility and took the house back at the current market value (without subsidence issue adjustment).


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Unclebulgaria67

We bought the house in 1996. We had a normal survey done they didn't request a full structural survey, and no environmental reports. We have always had the house insured with the Halifax as is our mortgage. I have spoken to the Halifax mortgage insurance dept and they now have told me that I don't have a legal expenses cover as it is paid seperately (wouldn't you know it)? I assumed it was part of the cover, not so. They put me in touch with a company that represents them in legal matters. They are going to look into the contractual details of my mortgage and get then back to me tomorrow. They seem to think there might be something to go on. I'm not holding my breath!

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You need to do a bit of digging for information yourself. It might be worth contacting local surveyors/structural engineers to see if they were aware of long standing issues in the area. Also your local councils buildings inspectors should also be aware of local issues.

 

If you find out that in 1996 the surveyor should have been aware of issues affecting properties and should have advised you to have obtained further reports, then you might have an angle to fight this.

 

Being that the Insurance was arranged at the same time as the mortgage, you should look at the process. I have had experience of working in a mortgage companies Insurance team (not Halifax). We used to check the survey reports provided for the mortgage, as well as information from the prospective policyholder, as the basis for arranging cover. Being that you did not have any information, which the mortgage company did not also hold, how could you have done anything more, to avoid the situation.

 

If you have 3 reports saying the house has subsidence, I cannot see how any court would not award judgement in your favour. You arranged cover with Halifax when you bought the property and they had access to exactly the same informations as you, to have assessed the risk they were taking on. This is therefore a straightforward breach of contract by the Halifax.

 

I cannot see what argument the Halifax are making to avoid the claim?


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The Halifax accept there is subsidence but they say the reason for my house to be falling over is wear and tear, for which I'm not covered. This is the argument. My argument is that the subsidence occured before the wear and tear. This area has always had subsidence issues. I know of many properties that have been underpinned, as far as I know all paid for by the insurance.

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The Halifax accept there is subsidence but they say the reason for my house to be falling over is wear and tear, for which I'm not covered.

 

In the 3 structural engineers reports you have had, had you asked them to look at the Insurers argument about the wear & tear causing the house to fall?

 

It seems to me, to take this forward, you will need to get an opinion which would be difficult to argue against, that the cause is subsidence and nothing to do with wear & tear. Structural/surveyors reports can sometimes not be as categoric as you would want them to be. This is probably how the Insurers have managed to win with the FOS.

 

Perhaps Halifax mortgages, will offer to pay for a further independent structural engineers report? If they do so, advise them that you would like them to appoint a local company in the Fenns who will be more knowlegeable about the area. Have seen Insurers in the past, select companies that have been 'helpful' before, that don't have any local knowledge, so cannot comment about local geological conditions to the same degree.


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I have been in touch with the mortgage company, they are suppose to be sending me a form of some kind that I should complete. The guy I spoke to said something about contractual responsibilities. What do you think he meant?

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Not 100% sure. But under a mortgage contract, you have responsibility to maintain the property and advise them of any significant issues at the point they become known to you.

 

I think had you gained support from Halifiax mortgages from the first point you became aware of the subsidence, they would have taken an interest in the progress of the claim.

 

Have Halifax Insurance ever suggested that you have not maintained the property or have done anything which might have contributed to the property being affected by subsidence ?


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No, in fact we did what they asked when they suggested the tree was to be removed. Nothing else has been mentioned.

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