Insurance Edge caught up with the team at Geobearrecently to learn a bit more about
how subsidence claims can be streamlined by using geopolymer, resin-based solutions.
Now, before you skip onto something else consider this; by pumping in a polymer
substance you can settle a subsidence claims a YEAR QUICKER than the conventional
route involving loss adjusters, surveyors, exploratory works etc.
Time is money, and if technology can save insurers a year’s worth of admin, think how that impacts the bottom line.
WHO ARE GEOBEAR?
Geobear started out in Finland back in the 1980s and since then have operated in 38
countries. In the UK they have worked on about 15,000 different site projects, including
Basildon Park, the stunning mansion used as a backdrop for the 2005 film version of Pride& Prejudice.
Geobear estimates that it can save up to 75% in time on some domestic subsidence
claims, and that translates into around 23% saving overall on the costs of the claim. Of
course subsidence claims are not as frequent as say minor motor claims, but the
complexities of resolving stressed home owners, assessing if trees or underground water
flow, are partially to blame etc. often mean that these types of claims are admin heavy,
time-consuming and therefore every expensive – they can go on for over two years in
IE: How does it work? Tell us more.
GB: Geobear uses a mix of unique geopolymer resins to improve the bearing capacity of
inadequate foundation strata of all types, and negate the effects of clay shrinkage.
Obviously each problem can vary; tree roots, underground streams, storm damage etc.
But the treatment remains very similar. The industrial-strength, expanding resins are
injected into the ground, where they force sunken parts upwards and re-stabilise
The specialist resins are of a similar strength to concrete but weigh only 10% as much,
with different resin blends used for different soil types. They are resilient, insoluble and
highly resistant to chemical attack and long-term degradation, so this is a long-term fix.
IE: Having lived in a house that was sinking at the front, I can remember how stressful it
was moving out for weeks while underpinning work was carried out. Then the house next door had to be underpinned as well – but this is a much more people-friendly repair isn’t it?
GB: Very much so. The advantages of the Geobear solution are that it only requires small
holes to be drilled for the injection of the resins, there are no messy excavations. In
practice, what that means is that properties with subsidence don’t need to become building sites, with equipment and workers present for long periods – plus costly post-work landscaping work is avoided.
It’s much faster, with affected areas often back in use on the same day. The work can be
carried out without owners or residents having to move out, ideal for families who don’t
want to – or, as in the Covid-19 crisis, are unable to – leave their homes, or for companies
which can’t afford to lose work hours.
IE: That is the type of thing that wins over homeowners as loyal customers in the long run, the insurer becomes the helping hand.
GB: Absolutely. Claims are where the pain point can be, so anything that helps resolve
situations like subsidence quicker, and without the mess and disruption, can only be a
good thing in terms of brand reputation for the broker or insurer.
IE; The summer of 2018 was a super-hot one, did that cause extra subsidence claims?
GB; Hot dry weather always does that, and it can really affect clay soil areas where things dry out and then crack up easily. According to our research about 50% of all subsidence claims from summer 2018 are still outstanding, which just shows how convoluted the process can be.
IE: How big a problem is subsidence generally?
GB: As subsidence is pretty rare compared to other claims areas, like say motor incidents,
car theft etc. it often gets little attention within the industry. There are around 20,000 cases in a ‘normal’ year compared to, for instance, 650,000 road-traffic accident personal injury claims. However, subsidence claims can cause immense disruption to customers (and damage to what is often their largest asset as well as their home or business).
While there has been a big revolution in terms of using data and automated systems in
car-related claims, innovation within this niche has been limited, and traditional methods continue to be used. It can be admin-intensive and this means backlogs are not dealt with, customers have to wait longer and the opportunity for insurers to deliver customer satisfaction and positive PR is lost.
Obviously we want to help change that way of doing things. It’s important to remember that by cutting about 25% from the typical subsidence claim we are all helping to reduce
premiums for homeowners in that particular area, assuming there’s a localised problem of course.
IE: Insurers now have to consider things like climate impact, environmental damage and
carbon footprint. How does Geobear stack up against other options in that regard?
GB: Geobear’s solution is much greener, with a 46% lower carbon footprint compared to
older traditional sub-structure schemes. Additionally, it almost always negates the need for tree removal, which occurs in around 70% of clay shrinkage claims. This means thousands of healthy trees have been saved from the axe by Geobear, maintaining the aesthetics of properties, protecting public amenity and meaning further time savings as permission for tree removals from local council planning departments is no longer required.
Geobear’s repairs are also guaranteed for as long as traditional subsidence claims methods. We provide a 10-year underwritten guarantee for its product, so both insurers and homeowners can have confidence in the work that’s being carried out.
IE: Educational stuff, thanks for your time.