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I have a question from a client that has left me stumped!

They have a sea wall - rocks piled in front of their property to keep soil back from the beach and stop the tidal action of waves from eroding the land. The wall is within 8 meters of the home.

I can’t find a suitable definition for "retaining wall" within the wording, so in the first instance could this “structure” be considered a retaining wall and secondly would it then be covered by EQC or the policy depending on the type of loss and event?

The “wall” is manmade – it was deliberately placed so I would have thought that it would fall into the definition of retaining wall – but I thought I would ask if anyone has come across this before or more importantly had a claim paid…

Many thanks


In general, a retaining wall is a wall built to support earth at a higher level on one side of the wall than on the other side of the wall.

A retaining wall may:

•     be self-standing;

•     be anchored into the land it retains;

•     be below ground; or

•     get structural support from the land it retains.

Retaining walls take many forms. Examples include (but are not limited to) timber pole, steel pole, concrete block, mass block, dry stack, gabion basket, shotcrete (with anchors), sheet piling, crib, geogrid reinforced fill, or keystone (gravity) retaining walls.

From the description of your client’s wall, the wall may be considered to be an erosion protection wall as opposed to a retaining wall, however it could be both. If a claim was made, we would need to consider the specific facts and construction in relation to your client’s wall to determine if it was a retaining wall.

If the wall was confirmed as a retaining wall, for it to have cover under the EQC Act 1993 it would also need to:

•     be situated fully within the land holding and

•     within 60 meters of the insured building and

•     necessary for the support or protection of the building

If you require further information based on the specifics of your query you can contact us at

December 2023

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