The UK could see a surge in subsidence due to the prolonged spell of hot and dry weather across the country, according to Sedgwick, a London-based provider of technology enabled risk, benefits and integrated business solutions.
Based on the company’s weekly update on subsidence volumes, “there has been a rise of more than 350 percent over the past six weeks, and it is likely to rise further as the heat and abnormally dry weather continue to affect already dangerously dry soil conditions,” the company said in a statement.
Subsidence is a serious issue, particularly for properties built on clay soil near trees, when the loss of moisture in the soil causes it to dry and shrink, said Sedgwick, noting that the resulting soil instability and ground movement will affect the foundations of buildings and lead to potential property damage.
Sedgwick explained that the current weather trend and the increase in potential for subsidence is of great concern in places like London, where many of the city’s homes are constructed on clay-based soils.
With warm weather patterns forecast to continue, especially in southern areas of the UK, Sedgwick estimated that claim volumes will also continue to rise through the remainder of August and into September.
With live remote crack monitoring that feeds back data every eight hours, Sedgwick is able to anticipate claim volumes before they occur, said Kevin Williams, Sedgwick’s head of subsidence. “We also have collated soil samples and weather information to help predict likely claims volumes for this year.”
Looking at the previous surge years of 2003 and 2006, the current position shows that the soil is drier than it was in 2003, but not quite as high as the surge of 2006. A surge event is dependent on how long the UK’s Meteorological Office Rainfall and Evaporation Calculation System (MORECS) remains at this maximum level. For example, in 2003 there were maximum readings for seven consecutive weeks and 2006 for four weeks.
For high levels of subsidence to occur this year, the weather will need to remain dry and warm throughout August and into September, the company said.
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