Loss adjuster Crawford & Company has centralised its subsidence expertise in a Birmingham office, the National Subsidence Unit, in a bid to increase the efficiency of its claims handling.

Most of the savings will be made through spotting invalid claims.

The company says it has increased the number of subsidence claims that are rejected without challenge from the homeowners to 55% compared to an industry average of about 30%.

Head of subsidence Robert Sharpe said: “By removing the administration from field-based staff, allowing them to concentrate on what they do best, we reduce the cost to the insurer, and guarantee a desk-based, central contact for the policyholder at all times.”

He adds: “Owing to the detailed technical reports that we are producing and supplying to the homeowner, many of them are now more willing to accept that their claim has been declined.”

The report includes a technical summary, analysis of topographic features, a geological survey map, description of vegetation and its effects, observations, investigations and recommendations.

In addition, each homeowner receives a Homeowner Subsidence Claim Record, which details causes of subsidence, how a claim will progress, the requirements of site investigations and how the policy will apply in the event of a claim being validated.

Desk-based specialist claims technicians, will assess the claim before the first site visits.

The unit can identify the soil type on which the property stands and, through a series of questions, assess whether it is likely to be a valid claim.

The unit then decides if a site investigation team should accompany a technical manager on the first site visit.

In all cases, the unit will handle administration, organise monitoring visits, liaise with the insured, undertake quality control, audit reserves and prepare management information.