Home Insurance for Listed or Protected Homes?

Caeva O'Callaghan | February 23rd, 2021

Older and listed properties pose unique risks and challenges to their owners. But what about getting home insurance for older houses?

Specialist home insurance is available for older or protected properties, but you don’t have to have it. It may cost more to insure older and protected houses because the roofing, wiring and plumbing are more likely to get worn out or develop faults.

Your home’s structure may also use specialist building materials or techniques that will need a specialist to repair. In this article, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • Why does it cost more to insure an old house?
  • Which period properties cost the most to insure?
  • What can I do to lower the premiums on my home?

It is very important to answer all of the questions at the quote stage and to inform us that your property is listed. You also need to provide the age of the building when getting home insurance.

Home insurance for older houses

Some insurance companies will not quote for homes over 100 years old – though plenty will.

For example, Liberty will quote for houses built back as far as 1860 without requiring further information. Others will look for an additional questionnaire or even require photos. This is why you need a broker like QuoteMe.ie – we know the best insurer to go with as soon as you tell us about your home.

We recommend that you get advice on calculating your building sum insured. Use the www.scsi.ie website to assist or engage a builder or an engineer.

Insurers consider properties over 100 years old as ‘non-standard’. This means the wiring, plumbing, structure and materials in your house are not likely to be up to modern regulations, and might pose more of a risk. As a result, the premiums are much higher for these older properties.

But you don’t have to reduce your cover to make ends meet. Niche insurers exist who specialise in older properties. Their business is all about dealing with the unique challenges posed by insuring a character home.

Rebuilding vs reinstating

The design and construction of period properties often makes them more vulnerable to damage, especially by fire. Not only that, they are much more expensive to repair afterwards. Some period properties require specialist tradesmen who aren’t all that easy to find, or building materials no longer in use.

When a modern house burns down, insurers often talk about the cost of rebuilding or repairing. In the case of old, listed or specialist properties, it’s more of a matter of reinstatement.

Reinstating essentially means rebuilding, but by using contemporary materials and building techniques to bring it back to its former glory. Often this costs more than if your home was modern because you will not be allowed to use mass produced and cheaper materials. For instance, if you had to replace windows, you would likely have to get special frames made and reinstate the correct type of glass.

In olden times, builders used dangerous substances like lead and asbestos in house construction. You may have a lead cold water tank in the attic, or asbestos in your insulation. Reinstatement will mean replacing these hazardous materials with safer, modern alternatives.

As wood and combustible materials were more common in housebuilding practices over 100 years ago, fire is one of the biggest risks to period properties. As well as buying adequate insurance, you should install fire detection and prevention systems including smoke alarms (preferably mains powered), sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers. All of this can be done without compromising the character of the property you’re trying to protect.

Listed buildings

If your building is listed on the Record of Protected Structures or located within designated Architectural Conservation Areas, things get a bit more complicated. These articles state the need for adequate and appropriate insurance, as well as giving advice on how to manage risk and lower the need for insurance claims to be made.

If your listed building is very large, you might need first loss cover. If you have a large estate with many buildings attached, this is the cover for you. It reduces the sum insured to cover likely damage to only one building. For example, a large three winged building is unlikely to experience total loss to all three wings in the event of a fire. First loss would cover any one wing, so it makes the most sense to cover which one your family lives in most.

Do you have a period or listed property?

Get in touch with our home insurance experts today and we can advise you on the right level of cover required for your property. We are available to talk by phone between 8.30am and 5.30pm each weekday on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051.

If you would like an instant home insurance quote online, input your buildings and content information into our home insurance calculator. We compare home insurance in Ireland from 12 insurance companies.

All Information in this post is accurate as of the date of publishing.