Home insurance renewal – change of wording


Hoping for a bit of advice on my home and contents insurance renewal quote from my insurer. This has turned into a bit of a rambling one for a Friday evening!

When I took the insurance out, the one issue which came up was that my survey (first time buyer) highlighted that a structural ‘stitch’ repair to the party wall had been undertaken at some point in the past. I don’t know when it was done or why, but having had a conversation with the surveyor I felt comfortable with it and was happy to proceed. It’s a Victorian terrace so there were general signs of ‘distortion’ picked up, but it was indicated that it didn’t appear to be an ongoing. The work wasn’t done by the previous owner.

When asked something along the lines of ‘has the house suffered from subsidence or structural/historicmovement?’ I was honest and told them about this repair and what the surveyor had said, but that I didn’t know the details of why the repair had been done in the first place. After a number of quite stressful phonecalls they were ok to provide the insurance under normal terms, but my policy statement said yes to ‘has the house been subject to subsidence or historic movement’ (or words to that effect).

The new policy wording says something difference:“the home shows signs of, or has had damage caused to it by subsidence, landslip or heave”.

So, first question: could this be because the policy is being underwritten by someone else this time round (as noted on the accompanying letter)? Perhaps the previous underwriter used slightly different phrasing, but my details have now been transferred and the ‘tick’ from one underwriter’s box is now ticking a slightly different box for the new underwriter.

My other question/concern is that if I agree to renewal of the policy with that wording, am I effectively agreeing that the house has suffered from subsidence, heave or landslip? The whole issue was that I don’t know why this repair was carried out in the first place but I wanted to be open with them and make them aware of it. I thought that the repair highlighted historic movement of some kind, which is covered by the previous policy wording. This new one doesn’t say that.

Looking at the insurer website, it appears that they now wouldn’t cover me at all if I was a new customer and told them the same thing (although it might have been because I have my mortgage with them too). When this issue came up first time round I found it quite stressful. It worries me that I could end up with subsidence recorded against the house just due to a change of wording in the policy. The thought of phoning up other insurers and trying to explain all of this all over again fills me with dread!


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