If you are like most of our insurance clients, you want tested and proven evidence to support your pricing models. You are committed to growing your business, but not through uninformed risk-taking.

For over 30 years, scientists at Cranfield University have helped insurers, reinsurers, utilities and government bodies identify and mitigate environmental geohazards like subsidence and flooding.

Avoid high risk areas

Identify properties built on subsidence prone soils, in dry regions and in the presence of trees

Identify new opportunities

Most insurers still price at postcode level. By using our higher resolution data you can identify low risk properties within Postcodes.

Gain a long term view

Our climate is changing. See where subsidence will increase under extreme weather or future climates.

Our clients include:

10+ UK insurers and reinsurers

The majority of UK water utilities

Local and national government

Cranfield University developed our understanding of root causes for pipeline failure. Cranfield's industry leading model determines baseline performance from changes caused by soils and weather. Detailed predictive modelling enables proactive infrastructure management and reduced unplanned interruptions to customers.

Tim Acland - Anglian Water

Do these statements resonate with you?

  • You need to help your team avoid subsidence risks, but are not an environmental scientist.
  • You don't want to waste time or money using the wrong data.
  • You want to write more policies, but avoid costly mistakes.
  • You want to draw on leading scientific understanding of the environment.

We are here to help your business!

If you think that that soils and subsidence are complex, you're right! There are over 1,000 soil types in the UK, and each responds in a different way to our increasingly volatile weather.

As established research scientists at Cranfield University, we study how soil and weather impacts on buildings and infrastructure. We've helped hundreds of companies cut through the complexity of soils and identify the risks that affect them.

By offering cheaper premiums on low risk properties in high risk regions, you can undercut your competition. You can increase the number of policies on your book without unnecessary additional exposure to geohazards.

We'd be pleased to help you gain a clear view of current and potential subsidence and ground movement risks too.

Here's how to get our help:

1. Get in touch!

Provide us your email address and we'll send you more information about our hazard maps and offer to meet with you to discuss any questions arising.

2. Request a 30 day free trial

Experience has shown that insurance companies who try our data, retain our data. Try it out for yourself, risk free.

3. Receive a custom fit

Insurance companies are different sizes and they have different risk appetites. We help you customise the data to suit your corporate risk appetite and our flexible pricing structure allows use by companies of all sizes.

Why you can trust NPD®

Cranfield University's Natural Perils Directory (NPD) uses the best available spatial data on soils, weather and trees to models subsidence and six other geohazards. We've been working with the insurance industry for almost 25 years, but we're not resting on our laurels.Recently published research behind NPD by Cranfield scientist Professor Stephen Hallett was shortlisted for the 2015 Lloyd's Science of Risk Prize.


The dominant form of subsidence in the UK is clay related shrinkage and swelling. Most clay soils shrink when they dry out, which can cause subsidence. When soils do not dry out evenly, this can lead to even more damaging differential ground movement.


Our tested and proven subsidence maps are based on the answers to 3 key questions:


1. How much does the soil shrink as it dries?

We use Cranfield University's award winning National Soil Map to provide our foundation depth (70-120 cm) assessment of shrink-swell potential.

2. Will it be hot and dry?

We use measured (observed) and UKCP09 modelled (projected) weather data to provide a suite of climate models to identify hazard levels under current, extreme and future weather scenarios.

3. Will trees affect subsidence?

We use Bluesky's National Tree Map in our calculations of subsidence potential. Most trees in the UK will not increase subsidence risk, but some will. We can help you identify these.


Clay related shrinkage and swelling is the dominant form of subsidence in the UK, but other threats exist as well. We also provide geohazard potential maps for:

  • Cavitation
  • Peat shrinkage
  • Frost heave
  • Soft and compressible soils
  • Natural flood extent
  • Wind exposure

What geohazards does the Natural Perils Directory cover?

Here's a flavour of some of the NPD data layers which our insurance clients commonly use. Many can be customised to your individual requirements.

portfolio Clay shrink-swell subsidence (current climate)
portfolio Frost heave potential
portfolio Sand washout (cavitation) potential
portfolio Historic flood extent
portfolio Clay shrink-swell subsidence (future climate)
portfolio Tree enhanced subsidence hazard
portfolio Peat shrinkage potential
portfolio Soft and compressible soils

Get in touch and find out more

We would be poleased to discuss with you the tools you need to write subsidence insurance informed by our data. Like our other clients, you too can better serve your customers and increase profits.

If you would like us to send you additional free information on subsidence and how we help organisations like yours avoid risk, or set up a meeting with us, please provide us with your name and email address below, or email us at landis@cranfield.ac.uk



Cranfield Environment Centre, Bullock Building (B53), School of Water, Energy and Environment, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL, UK
+44 (0)1234 754287

Contact Hours

Mon - Fri: 9.00 AM - 5.00 PM (UK time)


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Frequently Asked Questions

Find out more about our wider work

The NPD® dataset is developed by staff of the Cranfield University Soil and Agrifood Institure, building on some 80 years of national soil survey and soils expertise. The datasets in NPD are held within our Land Information System, LandIS, one of the largest land and soil information systems of its kind in Europe.