Skip to main content

BLOG #2

BLOG #2

In late November 2016, Brian Harrison, a Chartered Surveyor, who I had employed on two occasions and was a valued friend, was in the final stages of his 4 year battle against acute leukaemia. He read one of my blogs and emailed me his thoughts/comments.

Brian died on 25 January 2017, aged 64, and, in his memory,  I want to share Brian`s thoughts with you, in this and my previous blog in June.


It is clear that over the last 25 years, there have been some development and adoption of innovative building investigations and repairs: -

1] - Site investigations , in the most part, have become easier and quicker, and experienced field staff have the knowledge of what to look for and where to look.

2] - Localised drain relining is less specialist, though "dig up and replace" is often the cheapest option to remedy problems within 3m of the house.

3] - Access to geological data is easier and quicker. In addition, most experienced field staff have a working knowledge of where the ground problems are in their area, such as bad ground/shrinkable clay/former waste tips/peat and organic matter.

4] - Street View and Google Earth are useful tools, both to view the property before the initial inspection and to scroll the timeline backwards to see if anything has changed over the last 5 - 10 years, such as tree growth or removal, or building works nearby.

5] - Electronic crack monitoring is particularly useful on tree related claims, especially on third party trees, or trees subject to TPOs.

With regards to repair/stabilisation techniques, there are a greater number of options available now than there were 25 years ago.

1] - Whilst any form of underpinning, whether traditional or mini-piling, was never an early option, and with some adjusters/insurers it has almost been removed from the subsidence lexicon, there are now proven techniques which minimise disruption, are relatively cost effective, comply with Building Regulations and carry an ASUC guarantee.

2] - Grout injection ground strengthening has developed a range of options and is particularly useful in poorly compacted, non-cohesive soil.

3] - There have been major developments in structural superstructure repairs to "put the strength back in the box." Most notably masonry reinforcement, resin injection and a variety of strapping systems.

Unfortunately, in some processes, there now appears to be direct conflict between "treating customers fairly" and claim spend. Domestic policyholders generally have little or no knowledge of subsidence claims. Unlike flood claims, in the vast majority of subsidence claims the damage is limited to their house and they have nobody to compare notes with. After their families wellbeing and their own health, the policyholder`s home is their greatest concern and, in terms of financial investment, their most valued asset.

They have a right to expect the following: -

i] - If subsidence appears to be the likely cause, then the problem will be adequately investigated.

ii] - If liability is engaged, then the cause should be addressed, subject to policy cover and limits. Most insurers are pragmatic on funding the removal or remedy of cause in order to drive the claim to a prompt conclusion, as the longer a claim runs, the more it tends to cost.

iii] - Where building regulation approval is required, that this is obtained.

iv] - Subject to any issues of under-insurance etc., that the property is correctly reinstated, addressing all the planes of weakness and damage, resulting from the subsidence movement.

v] - All relevant certificates are obtained and passed to the policyholder, together with all relevant documentation including, where required, an appropriately worded Certificate of Structural Adequacy.

Any member of an insurer`s staff or loss adjuster`s staff whose house had suffered subsidence would make enquiries within their organisation and expect/require i] to v] to be undertaken. If consideration of claim spend overrides these requirements/expectations, then there is surely a breach in the obligation to "Treat Customers Fairly"

In memory of Brian Harrison, 04.12.1953 -> 25.01.2017

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Thoughts of Brian Harrison 4 Dec 1953 - 25 Jan 2017 - Subsidence Claims: A View from 20+ Years of Experience

BLOG #1

In late November 2016, Brian Harrison, a Chartered Surveyor, who I had employed on two occasions and was a valued friend, was in the final stages of his 4 year battle against acute leukaemia. He read one of my blogs and emailed me his thoughts/comments.

Brian died on 25 January 2017, aged 64, and, in his memory,  I want to share Brian`s thoughts with you, in this and a subsequent blog.

When I started doing subsidence work in the early 1990`s, after 15 years in Civil Engineering as a contractor/resident engineer/designer, my qualifications and skills were appreciated, though it took a while to learn the specifics of subsidence claims and general insurance. However, a few grey hairs and plenty of letters on my business card were usually enough to put most policyholders at ease, especially if I had a chat with them about what I intended to do, before starting my survey.

Few policyholders knew what subsidence really is and this has not changed. A lot of claims are submitted that hav…