Facebook Pixel
Skip to content

Subsidence and landslip

What exactly is subsidence and landslip, and do you as a property owner really need this cover?

While insurance policies often include subsidence and landslip cover, it is usually very limited. For this reason it is imperative that the property owner asks himself 3 important questions up front.

  1. What exactly is subsidence and landslip?
  2. Is it necessary for my property to be covered against subsidence and landslip?
  3. Does my insurance policy provide full or limited subsidence and landslip cover?

Subsidence and landslip are generally defined as:

Subsidence: Movement in a vertical direction; sinking”. “Subsidence is strictly a vertical downward movement”.

Landslip: A rapid downward movement under the influence of gravity of a mass of rock or earth on a slope” or “The sliding down of a mass of land”.

In view of these definitions, a property owner whose property is erected on or in the immediate vicinity of land with a significant gradient should consider insurance against the risks of subsidence and landslip. In addition, the nature of the land should also be carefully considered. It is well-known that certain areas of South Africa have substantial dolomite formations below the immediate ground surface. The occurrence of subsidence and sink holes in these areas is not uncommon. Despite this, these areas are well-developed. Another consideration is the presence of underground mining operations. Any shift in ground due to mining may have a ripple effect that causes subsidence, landslip or earth tremors. Settlement cracks that develop due to ground heave (clay soils) and/or insufficient compacting of filling are not covered by the insurance policies.

Finally, the property owner needs to check the cover actually being offered by their policy. Many policies do provide ‘limited’ subsidence and landslip cover but ‘limited’ implies just that. Full subsidence and landslip cover provides comprehensive cover for the whole property and is available from most insurers; however it is always subject to certain terms, conditions and the payment of an additional premium. Limited cover typically excludes cover to (but not limited to) the following: Drainage systems, boreholes, boundary walls, garden walls, retaining walls, gates, gate posts, fences, roads, parking areas, driveways, paths, paving, septic tanks, pipelines bridges, piers, swimming pools, tennis courts.

Sectional titles prescribed rules do not speak to the need for this cover but trustees are mandated in terms of the rules to purchase this cover where they feel necessary.

Property damage suffered as a result of subsidence or landslip is always going to be devastatingly expensive. If your policy includes ‘free’ subsidence and landslip cover, be sure that the cover you have is the cover you actually need.


Author: Bruce Gibson

Contact Addsure – The Leaders in Sectional Title Insurance – to get fit and proper advice from advisors who understand Sectional Title. Contact us in Johannesburg (011) 704-3858; Durban (031) 459-1795; Cape Town (021) 551-5069