PRESS RELEASE

LV= warns extreme temperatures will see subsidence and fire claims rise

  • Record temperatures seen this summer likely to result in subsidence peak, with cases already up 205% between June and July
  • Soil moisture deficit at the same levels seen in 2018, when subsidence cases rose by 51% from the previous year
  • Influx of fire related claims to cost £1.2 million, with homes near open areas and heathland heavily impacted 

LV= General Insurance (LV= GI), one of the largest home insurers in the UK, is warning about the effects of extreme heat and the impacts this could have on homes across the UK in the future. The warning comes following an increase in both fire and subsidence related claims, both of which have increased due to the weather.

LV= GI is currently dealing with claims costs totalling £1.2 million following the extreme heat and fire related incidents between 17-20 July. The majority of claims were caused by a fire starting in a nearby open area or heathland which spread into homeowners’ gardens. Many claims involve the loss of garages, fences, greenhouses, sheds and tools, garden furniture, and decking as well as lost trees, shrubs and flowers. Devastatingly, 8% of claims involved the total loss of a home.

In one case, a mirror which had been discarded and left in the garden was the cause for the fire related incident. The sun’s rays reflected off the mirror and onto a wheelie bin, which subsequently caught fire and spread across the garden and back of the house. In other cases, compost heaps also helped fuel the fire, because of its highly flammable substance.

Fire claims aren’t the only peril to increase due to the heat, and LV= GI is gearing up for a subsidence peak year too. Between June and July this year alone, subsidence cases have risen 205%2. With hose pipe bans on the horizon and the soil already incredibly dry, August could see a spike similar to 2018 where claims rose 51%1 from the previous year due to exceptionally hot weather.

Currently, soil moisture deficit is at the same levels seen in 2018, which could result in properties sinking because the soil is unstable. LV= GI analysis also indicates that southern and central England have had lower rainfall levels in 2022 than 2018.

Sarah Smith, Head of Home Underwriting at LV= General Insurance says: “We’re really starting to see the effects of climate change and the impact this is having on homes – whether that be storm, flood, fire or subsidence claims – which have all risen in recent years depending on the season.

“This summer we’ve really seen the effects of extreme heat, even from leaving items out in the garden which in usual conditions you wouldn’t expect to catch fire. As a country we’re going to need to adapt and ensure existing houses are better protected, as well as really consider the locations planned for new houses which may be in areas more prone to events such as fires starting and spreading rapidly.”

Top tips to help prevent subsidence:

  • Prune trees and large shrubs to prevent soil from drying out. Seek professional advice from a tree specialist if you need to.
  • Check water pipes and guttering for leaks which can wash away or soften soil.
  • Lay porous materials around the home, like gravel or grass, to allow water to drain naturally.
  • Avoid using artificial grass as this reduces the amount of water getting to the soil and will dry it out, as well as reflect the sun’s rays.

Top tips to help prevent outside fires:

  • Keep any reflective materials out of the sun if left in the garden.
  • Put away gas BBQ cylinders when not in use.
  • Ensure the fire in a firepit or chimenea is completely out before leaving it unattended.
  • Manage compost heaps by turning regularly to ensure they don’t become overly dry.

    For further information:

    Natasha King
    Senior Press Officer, General Insurance
    07443 237651

    NOTES TO EDITORS: 

    1 51% increase of subsidence claims from Jan-Jun 2017 to Jan-Jun 2018.

    2 205% increase of subsidence cases between June and July 2022.

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