Further update on property insurance and potential damage caused by fracking

A couple of days ago, we raised the issue of house insurance for residents living in fracking areas. Our item, Homeowners – fracking damage is now an “excluded peril” from buildings insurance policies was supplied by a local resident who lives in St Annes, and who had been making enquiries into whether or not he could get house insurance that would cover damage caused by fracking. He wasn’t having much success. Below is his update.

Further to my post a few days ago regarding property insurance and potential damage caused by fracking, I have some further news. My brokers have made enquiries of nearly 300 insurance companies, either by telephoning them directly, or via email. The vast majority are treating this as an ‘Excluded Peril’ and are not prepared to cover the risk under any circumstances, even if the risk was shared by the policyholder by increasing the voluntary excess. However, they have found one company, Royal, Sun Alliance, who are prepared to underwrite the risk. However, in order to facilitate this, they have increased my premium by 19.4%.

I visited Cuadrilla’s public meeting in Lancashire earlier this week, with the specific aim of quizzing them about the damage they have already caused to over 80 properties on the Fylde Coast, as a consequence of two earthquakes and seismic testing. I was astonished that they admitted to this so freely. However, there are some further points, which I would like to share, as follows:

1. The man at the meeting informed me that Cuadrilla fracked the well at Preese Hall, the earthquakes didn’t occur, (or more accurately, the fault didn’t slip), until 12 hours after they had released the pressure on the 1.5 million gallons of water they had pumped down the well.

2. Cuadrilla did pay some compensation to home-owner’s. However, if THEY decided there was evidence of previous structural damage – which there is almost bound to be in 2-300 year old properties – they refused to pay. I am aware of one case where the home-owner had to issue court proceedings, before they finally agreed to pay for the damage. I am sure you can see the potential for grey areas to arise.

3. During my meetings with the Environment Agency, they have talked about the fact that Cuadrilla are installing highly sensitive sensors around their wells which will monitor seismic activity in real-time. The significance of this didn’t fully occur to me until the man from Cuadrilla linked this into the conversation about damage to property. He said: “we will now be able to monitor the seismic activity in real-time, and thus associate any claims for damage to our own recorded, seismic data. If anyone makes a claim which does not associate with an event we have recorded, then we won’t pay out.” This raises some ugly questions for ordinary members of the public.

I have had a full structural survey carried out on my property, as I did when we moved here, just over 12 years ago. There is no difference between the two surveys – both of which were carried out by Fellows of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. In the event of movement or damage, I now have a policy from RSA which covers fracking, and also included substantial legal expenses.

Please let us know of any experiences you have had with house insurance companies. You can email us at raffgroup@hotmail.co.uk

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