50’s : Summer heat health alert‎

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    With top temperatures expected this summer1, and an average daily maximum temperature forecasted to reach 24 degrees by 2050 as a result of climate change2, RIAS is urging homeowners to ensure they have adequate household buildings insurance in place.

    • ‘At risk’ areas include Chelmsford, Milton Keynes and Peterborough
    • Climate change contributing to increased average temperatures
    • 13.5m over 50s unaware of what subsidence is, yet homeowners are urged to check their insurance cover

    A number of areas has been identified across the UK which could potentially be under increased threat of subsidence because of clay soils beneath property foundations shrinking in long periods of dry hot weather. Chelmsford, Colchester, London and surrounding areas, Milton Keynes, Peterborough and Southend-on-Sea have all been highlighted by RIAS as areas which have significant ‘swell-shrink potential’3. These areas are likely to have a high concentration of clay soils, those with a high sand or gravel content, or chalk.

    Janet Connor, Managing Director of RIAS comments: “Whilst we are all delighted that the summer is here, the hotter weather does have long-term implications for homeowners. Our research has indentified areas of the UK where homeowners need to be extra vigilant that their household buildings cover is comprehensives and offers them protection against subsidence. With the effects of climate change meaning increased summer temperatures in the future, now is the time for consumers to review their household buildings insurance policies to ensure they are adequately covered.”

    One in ten (10%) more homeowners over the age of 50 understand what subsidence is, compared with under 50s homeowners. 98% of over 50s homeowners, equivalent to 13.5m people, understand what subsidence is, whilst 88% of homeowners under the age of 50 are confident they know what subsidence is4.

    Tips for homeowners to help with subsidence awareness:

    1. If you suspect your home has suffered subsidence damage then the best thing to do is to seek advice from an experienced and qualified Chartered Engineer who can arrange the necessary investigations and monitoring. They will also be able to suggest remedial measures, if necessary, and ultimately co-ordinate repairs. You should also notify your household buildings insurer as soon as possible, as they may wish to appoint a loss adjuster to help with any insurance issues.
    2. Another common cause of subsidence is leaking pipe work. The soil beneath your property can be washed away over time if there is a persistent leak, so have your pipe work checked and repaired. If there is evidence of erosion, contact a surveyor or the Institute of Structural Engineers for further advice.
    3. Check your soil type to determine whether your home may be more susceptible to subsidence – perhaps checking with your neighbours if you are unsure.
    4. It may also be useful to check with your neighbours to find out whether anyone else’s property in your area has suffered from subsidence, as this will enable you to take precautions before it becomes an issue with your property.
    5. Ensure you have the correct Home Insurance in place, and remember to read the small print. Some companies will not cover your home in the event of subsidence, particularly if you live in an area known for subsidence, or on any of the prone soil types.

    RIAS offers buildings insurance cover providing customers with £1 million worth of cover, or £10,000 for each outbuilding, if the home is damaged due to subsidence.

    Reproduced with the permission of the British Geological Survey ©NERC. All rights reserved.

    1 Source: Met Office Summer Forecast 2009

    2 Source: Met Office Climate Change Projection

    3 UK ‘Swell-shrink potential’ Map, reproduced with the permission of the British Geological Survey ©NERC. All rights reserved.
    4 Source: Opinium Research. Total sample size was 2,054 adults over the age of 18 years, including 1,067 adults over the age of 50. Fieldwork was undertaken from 5 – 9 June 2009. The survey was carried out online. The over 50s population in the UK is 17.7 million (Source: Population projections by ONS, 2009). According to the research, 78% of over 50s are homeowners, equivalent to 13.8m. Of the over 50s homeowners, 98% are aware of what subsidence is, equating to 13.5m over 50s homeowners