Why is Home Insurance More Expensive for Older Houses?

Caeva O'Callaghan | November 15th, 2023

It costs more to insure older 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.

Older houses are full of charm, but they can cost more to insure. In this article, we’ll answer the following questions:

Bit lost and overwhelmed? Just give us a call, and we’ll be able to sort out home insurance for your older property without you having to stress. But if you want to know more before you begin, read on.

Older houses and home insurance providers

It all depends if your home is over 100 years old. Getting home insurance for a property built over a century ago in Ireland may not be easy, as insurers vary on their stance. 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 – they will often already know the best insurer to go with.

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. They make a living dealing with the challenges posed by insuring a character home.

Why does an older house cost more to insure?

The design and construction of period properties often makes them both more vulnerable to damage, especially by fire. Also, 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.

As wood and combustible materials were more common in housebuilding practices over 100 years ago, fire is the biggest risk 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.  Of course, it’s important to make sure installation is sensitive and won’t compromise the character of the property you’re trying to keep safe.

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.

Risks of buying an older home

Are you in the market for a period property? If so, there are some things you ought to know. Character homes look gorgeous in photos, but living in them presents a unique set of problems and risks. Paying more for home insurance is just one of those risks.

Builders used dangerous substances like lead and asbestos in the construction of properties until fairly recently. You may have a lead cold water tank in the attic, or asbestos in your insulation.

Subsidence is also a big risk. Victorian and Edwardian homes have a higher risk of subsidence than newer properties, as foundations may have weakened over time. You’ll be able to spot subsidence when cracks suddenly appear in plaster or brickwork.

If you have an older home that you are insuring why not give QuoteMe.ie a call with any of your queries.

If you need more information on older homes and how best to go about getting insured,  call us in QuoteMe.ie anytime and get our expert advice from trained insurance agents. Call us anytime between 8.30am and 5.30pm each weekday on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051.

You can also get an immediate home insurance quote online through our online quote system. We compare home insurance in the Irish market from 12 insurers to get you the right cover for your situation.  We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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