Insurance for listed buildings

Finding home insurance for a listed building can be a challenge. In this guide, find out how to source the best cover for your historic property.

If you’ve bought a listed building, you’ll appreciate how important it is to protect your home. Here’s what you need to know about listed buildings home insurance.

What is a listed building?

There are around 500,000 listed buildings in England, according to Historic England.

A building can be listed when it has special architectural features or is of historical interest and importance.

For a homeowner, living in a historic building comes with a few provisos:

  • There will be extra control over what changes can be made to a building's interior and exterior

  • You will need to apply for Listed Building Consent for most types of work that affect the 'special architectural or historic interest' of your home

  • It also means you’ll need to pay particular attention to the types of materials used in any repair work, and source craftsmen who are skilled in the original building methods

What makes a building a listed building?

Listed buildings tend to:

Be older – the older a building is, and the fewer the surviving examples of its kind, the more likely it is to be listed. Some buildings under 30 years old can be listed but this is rare

Have aged well – a building that has survived in anything like its original condition is likely to be listed. 

Do I have a listed building?

Most people who live in a listed building will live in a Grade II listed building. There are 2 types of listed buildings:

Grade I – these are buildings considered to be ‘of exceptional interest’ and possibly ‘of national importance. Grade I buildings make up just over 2% of listed buildings in England.

Grade II – these fall under two main categories:

  • Buildings of important interest – which make up just under 6% of all listed buildings

  • Structures of special interest – these make up over 90% of listed buildings

If your home is a listed building, it will most likely fall into the second category.

If you are unsure if your building is listed, you can search the National Heritage List or contact your local authority.

You can also find out more about Scottish listed buildings on the Historic Environment Scotland website, and about Northern Irish listed buildings on the nidirect website.

Do I need listed buildings insurance?

If you live in a listed building, your home insurance will need to cover the specific needs of your home, so making sure every aspect of your property is covered should the worst happen is essential.

It is not compulsory to have listed buildings insurance, but it will give you peace of mind as you will have financial protection if something goes wrong. 

English Heritage advises homeowners to insure their property if it is listed.

Do I need to take out Grade II listed buildings insurance with a specialist insurer?

Not necessarily; you may be able to get insurance through a standard provider, but it will still be specialist cover.

  • Always compare and research different buildings insurance to find a policy that covers your property

  • Expect to pay more for listed buildings home insurance 

Getting the right listed buildings insurance cover

If you own and live in a listed building, you will need to consider having additional home insurance cover in place on top of buildings insurance.

You should also consider taking out home contents insurance, which can cover the repair or replacement of any damaged or lost possessions or fittings.

Contents insurance covers:

  • Furniture

  • Personal belongings 

  • Computing equipment and TVs

  • Some types of flooring including carpets

Contents insurance and buildings insurance are usually sold separately but some insurance companies do offer joint policies and if you buy both together, you may receive a discount. But the cheapest insurance isn’t always the best for your needs.

What listed buildings insurance should cover

While contents insurance cover is essential when it comes to your listed building, buildings insurance is probably your first priority, because of the substantial cost to rebuild a home should it be damaged or destroyed.  

Not all listed building cover is the same and will vary from policy to policy, but a good buildings insurance policy should include the following.

The cost of rebuilding your listed property

As with all standard building insurance, your cover will be enough to make sure you can rebuild your property if it is damaged or destroyed.

Most listed building insurance providers will need to know how much it is likely to cost if your listed building needs to be rebuilt.

You can use the Association of British Insurers (ABI) rebuild calculator to get an estimate, or contact a surveyor who can give you an accurate figure following a survey.

The cost of repairing your listed building

You need to consider whether the policy you take out will pay out if the brickwork or outer structure of the house is damaged by fire, floods or storms.

The cost of specialist materials and labour

This is an important inclusion because listed buildings tend to be more expensive to repair and they will often require specialist tradesmen to carry out any repair or building work.

Specialist cover if only part of your property is listed

If you have a listed wall in or on your property, you will need a listed home policy to cover it if it is damaged and needs to be repaired.

Make sure you maintain your listed building

If you own a listed building you will need to keep on top of maintenance of the property, and on top of any wear and tear.

Unlike modern construction, older buildings tend to succumb more to issues such as damp and roof leaks.

Failing to maintain your listed building may also invalidate any future claim - if for example broken tiles in the roof cause extensive water damage, that might be classed as neglect and the insurer may not pay out.

How to look after your listed building:

  • Inspect it regularly. It might be a good idea to make sure everything is secure after a storm for example or when the seasons change. 

  • Damp-proof your home by making sure the roof and the guttering are in good condition, you may also want to check your drains on a regular basis too.

  • Keep on top of any obvious wear and tear – such as damp spots, rotting timber, plaster that is falling off, or crumbling bricks.

What does listed buildings insurance cost?

It is difficult to put an average cost on insuring a listed building. The older it is, the more expensive it is likely to be to repair or rebuild. 

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) the average annual cost of buildings insurance was £263 in 2019 while home contents insurance costs the average family £139 a year.

Listed buildings insurance will usually cost more than this.

But what you pay also depends on:

  • Your claims history – if you have made previous claims you may be charged more

  • Value of your contents – having a large number of higher risk items such as jewellery will increase the premium

  • Where you live – if you live in a high crime area you are considered riskier to insure

Extras you can add to your home insurance 

The following inclusions can come as standard in either a buildings or home contents insurance policy but in some cases they may cost extra. You may want to make sure your home insurance includes them:

This would pay for the cost of legal assistance for any property disputes or claims against you.

Alternative accommodation cover

If you cannot live in your home due to damage, then this will cover the cost of somewhere to stay. There will be a ceiling on the amount you can claim, so check how much cover is being offered.  

Compulsory excess cover

This is the excess set by the insurance provider. You will have to pay this, but you can choose to pay a higher voluntary excess which will reduce your total premium. But you will need to be able to afford to pay it in the event of a claim. 

No claims discount (NCD) 

If you don’t make a claim on your buildings insurance, you may find your premium gets cheaper, but this is not always the case. 

Accidental damage 

This would make sure you are covered if there is any accidental damage to your property, such as damage caused by a broken window.

Home emergency cover

Some home emergency services such as heating and plumbing repairs can be included but normally may come at an extra cost. You may also get access to a 24-hour helpline through your home insurance cover.

Do I need specialist roof leak cover?

If you live in a listed building or one with a thatched roof, then you may want to get a quote from a specialist insurer. 

Quite often they may be able to offer a cheaper quote than a larger insurer because they work with specialist underwriters and insure a large number of specialist properties.

You should be able to get full cover for properties with thatched roofs, including listed properties.

Because thatched homes are, by their nature, a non-standard insurance risk, you will need to consider comparing quotes online from both specialist and non-specialist insurers.

6 November 2020