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  • FIRST POST
    jim22
    What is the difference between settlement and subsidence in buildings?
    • #1
    • 12th Jun 11, 10:01 PM
    What is the difference between settlement and subsidence in buildings? 12th Jun 11 at 10:01 PM
    Hello moneysavers, what is the difference between settlement and subsidence. Is settlement simply subsidence that happened in the past but has now stopped or is it a different action altogether?

    I ask this because insurance call centre workers think it is the same thing and either refuse a policy outright, or give you a ridiculous premium.

    Surveyors also seem to tick the subsidence box whilst declaring that there has been past settlement suggesting that they are one and the same but that one is ongoing and one is not. I never seem able to get a straight answer to this one.
Page 1
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 12th Jun 11, 10:11 PM
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    Doozergirl
    • #2
    • 12th Jun 11, 10:11 PM
    • #2
    • 12th Jun 11, 10:11 PM
    Settlement is like buying a new sofa and breaking it in so it gets nice and comfy for your bottom to sit in. Every sofa does it.
    Settlement is usually a uniform sinking (more a kind of sighing) of the house onto it's new foundations. It happens when the house is built and it will stop.

    Subsidence is like buying a sofa and a leg falls off.
    Subsidence is a problem across part of the building which causes that part to start moving away from the rest. It needs rectifying or it will continue.

    They are not the same thing. Call centre people know nothing about underwriting. The questions that are asked don't usually relate to settlement. The question is usually 'has the property been subject to subsidence, heave or landslip' or something along those lines. If the surveyor has okayed the house then the answer to that question with a house that has settled is 'no'.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • flora48
    • By flora48 12th Jun 11, 10:13 PM
    • 633 Posts
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    flora48
    • #3
    • 12th Jun 11, 10:13 PM
    • #3
    • 12th Jun 11, 10:13 PM
    Thanks, Doozergirl, for a graphic explanation.
    • bigfreddiel
    • By bigfreddiel 12th Jun 11, 10:39 PM
    • 4,224 Posts
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    bigfreddiel
    • #4
    • 12th Jun 11, 10:39 PM
    • #4
    • 12th Jun 11, 10:39 PM
    Hello moneysavers, what is the difference between settlement and subsidence.
    Originally posted by jim22
    anything from 5k to 500k
    • ruggedtoast
    • By ruggedtoast 13th Jun 11, 7:47 AM
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    ruggedtoast
    • #5
    • 13th Jun 11, 7:47 AM
    • #5
    • 13th Jun 11, 7:47 AM
    Many policies ask if there has been a history of movement. Quite a few specify subsidence though.
    • Horizon81
    • By Horizon81 13th Jun 11, 12:04 PM
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    Horizon81
    • #6
    • 13th Jun 11, 12:04 PM
    • #6
    • 13th Jun 11, 12:04 PM
    Settlement or subsidence basically means the same thing to an insurer: Movement. They don't know if it's historic or if it's still happenning so you can kiss goodbye to getting a normal insurance policy. Movement is movement.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 13th Jun 11, 12:22 PM
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    Doozergirl
    • #7
    • 13th Jun 11, 12:22 PM
    • #7
    • 13th Jun 11, 12:22 PM
    Settlement or subsidence basically means the same thing to an insurer: Movement. They don't know if it's historic or if it's still happenning so you can kiss goodbye to getting a normal insurance policy. Movement is movement.
    Originally posted by Horizon81
    That isn't true. Call centre monkeys don't understand movement, underwriters do. Settlement is totally normal.

    There are even specialist insurers who will cover houses that have previously suffered with subsidence and there has been an agreement that the existing insurers should continue to cover problem houses even after they have been sold to new occupants.

    So you're wrong.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • ruggedtoast
    • By ruggedtoast 13th Jun 11, 4:15 PM
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    ruggedtoast
    • #8
    • 13th Jun 11, 4:15 PM
    • #8
    • 13th Jun 11, 4:15 PM
    That isn't true. Call centre monkeys don't understand movement, underwriters do. Settlement is totally normal.

    There are even specialist insurers who will cover houses that have previously suffered with subsidence and there has been an agreement that the existing insurers should continue to cover problem houses even after they have been sold to new occupants.

    So you're wrong.
    Originally posted by Doozergirl

    In my experience of trying to cover a property with movement on the survey he isn't wrong.
    • Arthurian
    • By Arthurian 13th Jun 11, 6:22 PM
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    Arthurian
    • #9
    • 13th Jun 11, 6:22 PM
    • #9
    • 13th Jun 11, 6:22 PM
    I appreciate I am about to ask how long is a piece of string, but am going to ask anyway. How much extra should you expect to pay for insurance on a house which has, in the past, suffered subsidence? Would it make any difference if the survey said something like "appears to be historic subsidence"? If the house without subsidence would cost, say, 500 to insure, would it be 1,000 with historic subsidence? Any clues, anyone?
    • Horizon81
    • By Horizon81 13th Jun 11, 6:26 PM
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    Horizon81
    In my experience of trying to cover a property with movement on the survey he isn't wrong.
    Originally posted by ruggedtoast
    Thanks. I wasn't talking BS. I've once tried to insure a house where the survey said settlement. No mention at all of subsidence, just settlement and IIRC 'structural movement'. As soon as you say this to an insurer (referred to in a derogatory fashion as a call centre monkey by some people) then you're going to need specialist insurance. I spoke to the relevant department of several insurance companies and quite simply, movement is movement, whether you call it settlement or subsidence. So there.
    • ruggedtoast
    • By ruggedtoast 13th Jun 11, 7:27 PM
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    ruggedtoast
    I appreciate I am about to ask how long is a piece of string, but am going to ask anyway. How much extra should you expect to pay for insurance on a house which has, in the past, suffered subsidence? Would it make any difference if the survey said something like "appears to be historic subsidence"? If the house without subsidence would cost, say, 500 to insure, would it be 1,000 with historic subsidence? Any clues, anyone?
    Originally posted by Arthurian
    Depends on the insurer. Bear in mind that when renewal time comes around they have a captive market.
    • hcb42
    • By hcb42 13th Jun 11, 8:00 PM
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    hcb42
    call centre monkey is a bit derogatory is it not.

    I did that very job, for two top brands, and had done ACII!
  • jim22
    Being the OP, in my introduction, I stated that this subject would bring conflicting views and it has. The problem seems to lie in the actual definition of what settlement is, and what insurance companies take it to be. Surveyors often tick the subsidence box on the valuation whilst commenting by the side "past settlement." Are they contradicting themselves or covering their backs.

    My house has past settlement. At the time of buying my mortgage company (principality ) arranged insurance with royal sun alliance. Dearer than shopping around but thats them. A year up, shopped around, got a much cheaper quote with another large insurer. When asked about movement replied "past settlement." Reply, "thats fine." Recently, when looking for another quote with another insurer, movement question asked and now view of survey required. Its seems to have ramped up in what you have to do. Stayed with present insurer.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 13th Jun 11, 9:17 PM
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    Doozergirl
    call centre monkey is a bit derogatory is it not.

    I did that very job, for two top brands, and had done ACII!
    Originally posted by hcb42
    I've worked in call centres too. Working in a call centre does not make you a monkey. Being a monkey and working in a call centre does.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 13th Jun 11, 9:38 PM
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    Doozergirl
    All houses move. To say movement is movement and therefore uninsurable under a normal policy is wrong. You won't find a Victorian house with true walls or a survey on one that doesn't mention longstanding movement.

    The financial ombudsman does not consider settlement to be the same as subsidence.

    Insurers usually ask the question about subsidence, landslip, heave; not movement. If they do ask about movement then you can't answer truthfully. If they ask about subsidence then you can answer truthfully no if the property has been seen by a surveyor and deemed to be long standing "settlement". If they surveyor ticks the box that says "subsidence" then you can't exactly answer that it isn't.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
  • jim22
    Thanks Doozer: it does still seem that there is no straightforward answer to my original question.
  • sonastin
    "movement" "settlement" and "subsidence" aren't synonyms - there are differences. If the person in the call centre is employed to plug answers into a computer, you'll get a "computer says no" response to all 3 variants. If the person in the call centre has a bit of nouse and is actually permitted to use their brain when talking to customers, you can get a more suitable response.

    Some call centre monkeys are forced to be monkeys when their employer doesn't allow them to do anything other than follow a script - its not the fault of the guy at the end of the phone!
  • jim22
    I've been trying to show a picture of a monkey working the calls and keyboard. Beyond me: Guess I'm not the organ grinder!
  • jim22
    How do you place an image into a discussion for joke affect?
    • hcb42
    • By hcb42 13th Jun 11, 11:21 PM
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    hcb42
    well...if you can't do it...ask a call centre worker...!
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