High value home insurance

What is high value home insurance?

High value home insurance, also known as high net worth home insurance, is insurance that covers expensive homes.

As with standard insurance policies, you can insure the building you live in and its contents. 

Which properties need high value home insurance?

  • Large houses with 6 or more bedrooms

  • Luxury houses and apartments

  • Listed buildings

  • Historic buildings

  • Estates

  • Manor houses

  • Some thatched houses

Who needs high net worth home insurance?

Standard insurance policies have limits on how much they will insure buildings and contents. 

If you have an expensive home that would cost more than £1 million to rebuild or even £500,000 depending on the insurer, you will need specialist high value buildings insurance. This is to include any outbuildings such as garages and sheds.

The contents of your home are also likely to be worth more than a standard insurance policy will cover, especially if you own expensive items. Big houses usually contain more contents than smaller properties so the total value of your possessions will be higher.

High value buildings insurance

Big houses and other high value properties such as listed buildings will cost more to rebuild than a smaller house. If the rebuild cost will be over a certain amount of money, you will need high value home insurance. 

The rebuild cost is not the same as the valuation of the property, i.e. what it is worth on the open market or how much you paid when you bought it.

To work out the rebuild cost of a standard home, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has a rebuild calculator which will give you an idea of what the cost might be. For larger or more unusual homes this might not be sufficient.

If your insurer needs to know the rebuild cost of big or unusual homes, a surveyor should be able to provide you with a quote. Some insurance companies have a panel of valuers who can inspect the property and provide a rebuild cost. There may be a fee for this as the surveyor will often provide a report.

High value home insurance can put high limits on both building and contents going into the millions and some policies will even offer unlimited cover. With unlimited cover on some policies this could mean you do not need to provide a rebuild cost. 

High value home contents insurance

Contents cover on standard policies also has limits, as does insurance for a single item. For example, your total contents may be capped at £100,000 and a single item at £1,500. So, if you own a watch valued at £3,000 you would only receive £1,500 if it was lost or stolen.

Single expensive items can be covered with high value home contents cover. Similar to the building’s contents, some policies will cap the amount while others will allow unlimited cover. High value home insurance policies will only want to know of individual values if any possessions are worth more than an amount such as £10,000 or £15,000 depending on the insurance company.

Insurers will require a valuation from an expert for very expensive items. Insurance companies which specialise in high value home insurance have access to a select panel of specialists who can value them. 

This could include art, ornaments, jewellery, watches, gold and other precious metals, antiques, furniture, computers, cameras, entertainment equipment, fine wine and musical instruments. 

To get an idea of how much your contents are worth and therefore how much you should be insuring them for, you could go through every room, value each item and add it all up.  This could take some time but it is better to be adequately insured than underinsured – or indeed overissued. 

Because of the high values involved, some insurance companies can provide you with your own personal underwriter who can even visit your home if need be. They would be able to advise on your insurance needs for unusual homes and expensive contents.

You should keep receipts and valuations and take photos of your expensive items. Valuations should be updated regularly to make sure you have the correct cover - valuable objects often appreciate in value and you may therefore be under insured. Likewise, some items may depreciate and you could be over insured.

High value cover for outbuildings and gardens 

Standard contents insurance policies have limits on what they will pay out for damage and theft from outbuildings and gardens. Standard policies typically limit garden payouts to £1,000 while contents left in outbuildings can be capped at anything from £250 to £5,000.

A large garden with expensive plants and trees, a pond, or a swimming pool will need higher cover than a standard policy offers. High value home insurance will have a much higher limit on its policy than a standard one. For example, the garden limit could pay up to £25,000 on a high value home insurance policy including up to £1,000 per plant or tree.

Likewise, if outbuildings have been converted into an office or gym, for example, the equipment in there will add up to more than a standard policy would pay out if contents were damaged or stolen.

High value home insurance for tenants

If you rent your home, you will only need high value home contents insurance. The building and any furnishings and other items supplied should be insured by the landlord. It is your responsibility to insure your personal belongings.

Other benefits of high value home insurance

High value home contents insurance usually covers your personal belongings for damage, loss and theft if you take them away from home. Some insurers will offer worldwide cover for this. Do check the small print.

You may be able to access specialist services via the insurer such as legal advisers, a 24-hour helpline, safe installers and advice on security.

As the contents and the home are expensive, insurers might insist on extra security such as burglar alarms, outside lighting and CCTV. This would also apply to outbuildings such as a garage or shed.

If you have staff such as cleaners, gardeners, cooks and nannies, domestic liability cover can be included in case anyone has an accident. 

Accidental damage is often included in high value home insurance and can be added on if it is not. If you accidentally break an antique vase worth £5,000 you should be able to make a claim for repairs or replacement or a cash sum.

If damage to your home means you cannot live in it and the insurer has agreed to pay for the repairs, it will also pay for alternative accommodation. There might be a financial limit on this as well as a time limit.

Some policies provide home emergency cover and will even insure you for identity theft.

If damaged items such as jewellery or watches are repaired but have lost value, some insurers will pay for any loss in the market value.

Policies might also include cover for children’s possessions at university.

Matching set cover is usually provided. This is where one or more items from a set are damaged or stolen, and if they cannot be repaired or replaced, then a whole new set will be provided. This could be a bathroom suite, matching sofas and armchairs or kitchen cupboards. 

Legal assistance is often included or can be added on and will cover any legal costs you may incur.

Multiple properties

If you own more than one property such as a second home or holiday home, you may be able to insure them all on one policy. This should save you money and means you only have to deal with one renewal date.

Listed properties

A listed building is a structure that has been recognised to be of national importance due to its special architectural or historic interest. Most are older buildings but some are modern and many of them are people’s homes. 

Listed properties and historic buildings will usually require high value insurance as they are likely to be worth a large amount of money.

These buildings may be more problematic in terms of maintenance due to them being older and more prone to damp and decay.

In addition, if repairs need to be carried out on listed buildings, you are legally obliged to use the same materials as the original build. This could be costly as well as finding builders that are experienced or qualified to carry out the work.

Specialist insurance surveyors will inspect the repair work during the claims process to make sure it is in keeping with the original property.

Homes with a thatched roof

High value home insurance might also be needed for homes with a thatched roof. Thatched houses can be expensive to insure because if the roof catches fire it is likely to burn more quickly than a tiled roof. 

The insurer might insist on a number of requirements such as that the thatched roof must have been inspected by a thatcher within the last 10 years and treated with a fire retardant. The electrics should also be inspected regularly and the chimneys swept annually. You may also be required to put a smoke detector in the roof and keep fire extinguishers inside the property.

Specialist insurance of high value items

Another option to get your high value possessions covered is to use a specialist insurance company. This might be the preferred option if you only need a standard home insurance policy but have an expensive collection. 

Specialist insurance can cover:

  • Antiques

  • Art and sculptures

  • Cameras

  • Collections of designer handbags, shoes and vintage clothing

  • Collections of old books, coins, medals, comics and stamps

  • Fine wine

  • Gold and other precious metals

  • Jewellery

  • Musical instruments and associated equipment like amplifiers and recording decks

  • Watches

27 October 2020