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Guide to insuring properties with thatched roofs
Think thatched-roof property, and most peoples’ minds conjure up a thought bubble of the quintessential chocolate-box cottage with roses around the door and a roof of golden straw. Charming, idyllic……. you get the picture.
Think thatched-roof insurance however and for most would-be property owners that bubble would quickly pop and bring their dream home crashing back down to earth as they imagine sky-high insurance costs or the fear that perhaps thatched-roof property insurance is rarer than say hen’s teeth (thatched properties and chickens tend to occupy the same thought bubble).
Getting quotes from many providers is one of the best ways to save money on thatched property insurance
Well, yes and no. Thatched-roof policies are alive and well on the home insurance market for both fully and partially thatched properties and although they are classed as specialist insurance; they cover the whole property (not just the roof!). They require specialist insurance because of the following risks:-
- Increased fire risk
- Greater cost to rebuild
- Fire spreads quickly with a higher risk of damage
So whether you are (or would like to be) the proud owner of a tiny cottage or a substantial manor house; the following points are intended to be a guide as to what to look for when insuring a property with a thatched roof:-
Ensuring the thatch is fully insured
Common sense will dictate that thatched properties by way of their combustible roof material naturally have an increased fire risk compared to those built of brick and tile. It is imperative that specialist thatched property insurance, therefore, ensures that the thatching itself is correctly and fully-insured. As well as protection against fire damage; you can also check to see if the insurance covers against damage caused by a storm, flooding and accidental damage.
Ensuring your thatched roof insurance adequately covers your contents
The contents of your home can be just as important to you as the fabric of the building itself. It is especially important in thatched-roof properties (where fire etc. can cause more wide-spread damage compared to more traditional builds) that your insurance can cover the full amount of replacing your contents in the event of a claim. You can also check to see if the insurance policy covers against accidental damage to computers and audio-visual equipment. It’s not just the elements that your property can be protected against too – you can also be covered for the replacement of external locks in the event of your keys being lost or stolen.
Ensuring you are protected from liability
Property and building owners’ liability can be a sensible element of a thatched-roof property insurance policy as this will protect against subsidence, any removal of debris costs as well as surveyor’s and architect’s fees. It will also cover you against the costs of assessing and tracing (in the event of leaking pipes) and protect you from the legal liability of the homeowner.
Ensuring you are offered additional extras
Thatched-roof property insurance can also provide certain optional/additional benefits that can be added to the general policy. These may include cover for pedal bikes, valuables and legal family protection. Accidental damage/s to your contents and your building can also be included in the policy, and this can be a wise investment if you have bespoke fittings and furniture that are as unique as your cottage and would, therefore, be difficult (and expensive) to be replaced.
How to bring down what can be expensive insurance costs
As a thatched roof property owner you can do much to ensure that your home is as insurable as possible. With the increased fire and greater damage risk posed by a thatch as well as necessitating specialist repair in the event of a claim; insurers ask that you have some fire precautions in place and ensure the roof is kept to an agreed standard of repair et by the policy.
You also need the rebuild value of your property. You can get an approximate value by using the Association of British Insurers (ABI) rebuild calculator.
Requirements to be accepted by thatched roof insurance providers usually entail the following:
- The roof must, within the 10 years previous have been subject to inspection by a thatcher
- The thatch type will need to be identified, e.g.:- is it Water Reed, Devon Reed, Combed Wheat, Norfolk Reed or Long Straw?
- The electrics within the property will have been inspected within the 10 years before the policy commencement
- Annual chimney sweeps must be done
- No tools that are able to produce flames or naked flames must be in the loft or attic space
- A minimum of two extinguishers have to be installed inside your property
- Your roof must be fire retardant treated
In order to receive a quote from prospective insurers; you must also be able to provide the following information:
- The depth of thatch – is the measurement less than 1 metre, between 1 and 2 or more than 2?
- The chimney height above the thatch ridge – is it less than 1.8 metres or more than this?
- The distance of the property from the closest fire station
- Whether the property is your primary residence, second home, let property, holiday rental or unoccupied.
- Whether or not your property uses open fires? Insurance is still possible with open fires, however owners can choose to have what is known as solid fuel warranty for those who do not use the fireplace. This will state that solid fuel is not burnt on the premises.
Paying the premium
Most insurers will offer flexible payment schemes which are another more affordable way of insuring your dream property.
Living the dream
All insurance policies are calculated on “risk” so increased risk equals increased premium costs and yet thatched-roof property insurance does not have to be out of your price range. You simply need to be a little savvy and do what you can to lower the risks while comparing what is on offer from individual insurance providers for the money you are paying. In this way, you make sure your thatched-roof property is fully protected and that both you and your insurer have peace of mind so that you can turn your property dream into a living reality.
Types of thatched property insurance
- Building insurance – Building insurance will cover your property for structural damage. Structural damage is often very costly to repair and is one of the most important types of cover for a thatched roof property.
- Thatch cover – Thatched roof property insurance of course includes cover for the roof itself too. If your roof were to be damaged, whether due to fire or some other reason, then you’ll need to have it rebuilt by a specialist. You’ll be covered for this with a thatched roof policy.
- Liability claims – You can also get cover for liability claims included in your policy. If for example a visitor or passer by were injured due to your property being unsafe and decided to sue you, you’d be covered for the compensation claim.
- Contents cover – Contents cover will protect the contents of your home.
- Accidental damage – Accidental damage will cover you for things like floods, storms and escape of water.
Risk factors with a thatched roof property
- Repair costs – One of the major risks that insurance providers take into account with a thatched roof property is the repair costs. Because thatched roofs aren’t as common as they once were, it can be difficult and costly to have them repaired or rebuilt. This is one of the major reasons why you cannot simply get a regular home insurance policy when you own a thatched roof property.
- Risk of fire – The perceived fire risk with a thatched roof property can be somewhat overstated. Many people assume that a thatched roof property is more likely to catch fire, which isn’t necessarily the case. However if a fire does start in a thatched property, it will spread much faster than in a regular home due to the thatching being more flammable than a standard roof.
- Maintenance – Maintenance is something you need to stay on top of when you own a thatched roof property. Insurers will want to know that the property is well maintained in order to offer you a policy. At the very least you’ll want to make sure your roof is re-ridged once every 10 years.
- Listed properties – A lot of thatched roof properties are listed, meaning they’re considered to be of historical or cultural importance. Owning a listed property comes with responsibility and you’ll be expected to maintain the building and keep it as close to its original state as possible. You’ll need to obtain permission for any changes you want to make to the exterior/structure of the property if you have a listed building.
Getting specialist cover is necessary when you own a thatched roof property due to the higher rebuild costs.
Saving money on thatched property insurance
- Get cover from a specialist provider – It’s always recommended that you get thatched property insurance from a specialist provider. Although some regular home insurance providers might agree to offer you a policy they won’t necessarily cover the rebuild costs for your roof, which is one of the major risks of owning a thatched property. Specialist providers will be better equipped to deal with the unique risks that thatched property owners face.
- Make sure your property is well maintained – Another thing you can do to cut down the cost of your insurance is to make sure your property is well maintained. Having your roof re-ridged is something you’ll need to at least once every 10 years. In addition to this you should also make sure that your chimney is regularly inspected as chimney problems can often be the cause of fires in thatched roof properties.
- Pay for the policy annually – Although paying monthly is more common since you can spread the cost, if you’re able to pay for your policy on an annual basis then you’ll be offered a good discount on the cost by most insurance providers.
- Get a lot of quotes – Getting quotes from a lot of different insurance providers is very important when you’re looking for thatched property insurance. The prices you’re quoted can vary quite a lot so it’s definitely important to shop around if you want to get the best deal possible. It’s a good idea to know exactly what the rebuild costs of your home are when contacting insurers to make sure you get enough cover.
You can edit your policy easily so it includes exactly the level of cover that you want.
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Thatched Property Insurance FAQ
What is thatched property insurance?
Thatched roof property insurance is a special type of cover that’s tailored specifically for thatched roof properties. Unlike regular homes, thatched roof properties cannot be covered by a simple home insurance policy since the unique rebuild costs need to be accounted for. There’s also the fact that many thatched properties are listed buildings, which is another thing insurance providers must consider. This is why thatched roof property insurance is often best sought out from specialist providers.
Is it more expensive to insure a thatched roof property?
Thatched roof properties are at a greater risk of fire so in general the cost of building and contents insurance will cost more. Rebuilding a thatched roof property also costs more compared to a regular home with a slate roof since thatching is a highly specialised skill that requires the right expertise and materials.
What are the best ways to save money on thatched property insurance?
There are a few ways to save money on thatched roof property insurance. The most obvious one being to get quotes from a lot of different insurance providers to avoid overpaying. In addition to getting quotes, it’s also a good idea to take any steps you can to reduce the risk of fire in your property. Getting a thorough electrical inspection as well as having the chimney regularly cleaned are both excellent ways to do this.
How much is a thatched insurance policy likely to cost?
It’s hard to give a simple answer to this question since the cost of a policy will depend on a few important factors, the main ones being the value of the property, where it’s located, whether or not it’s a listed property and the level of cover being taken out.
Is it possible to cover contents covered in a thatched home?
Yes, any good thatched roof property insurance provider will be able to offer you contents cover as part of your policy.
Can you insure an unoccupied thatched property?
Yes, you can get unoccupied property insurance for a thatched roof property. The risks associated with an unoccupied property are something insurance providers need to take into account so if you’re going to be away from the property for more than 30 days, you’ll definitely need to get this type of cover.
Can I get insurance for a let thatched property?
If you have a thatched roof property that you own and let out to tenants, then you can get landlord insurance, which will enable you to get cover for risks such as loss of rent and damage to contents.
Does the type of thatched roof make a difference to the insurance premium ?
No. It doesn’t matter what materials your thatched roof is made from, whether it’s straw, water straw or reed – you’ll still be able to have it covered.
How much does it cost to insure a listed thatched property?
If your thatched roof property is listed, then this means you have an obligation to keep it in good condition and won’t be able to make changes to the structure without obtaining permission from your local council. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get cover for it however. Most good thatched roof property insurance providers will still be able to offer you cover at a reasonable rate.
Can I insure a thatched property under a regular home insurance policy?
No. The risks that come with owning a thatched roof property are greater than a regular home so most insurance providers will not provide cover for them. The rebuild costs associated with a thatched roof property are also greater since they require specialist skills. Therefore a dedicated policy is required.
Why is insurance more expensive for thatched roof houses?
Thatched homes are seen as an idyllic place to live and it’s not hard to understand why. Often set in small village communities in the countryside, they offer a chance to live in quiet and peaceful surroundings away from the noise and pollution of a big city.
Thatched properties not only look great but come with some key benefits too. Thatched roofs provide excellent insulation, which means they keep your house warm during the winter and cool during the summer. They also last for a good deal of time, with Water Reed thatches lasting for up to 60 years with proper maintenance.
Whilst thatched roof homes have many great benefits, they do come with a few downsides. One of them being the higher cost of home insurance.
Below are the main reasons why thatched roof insurance costs more –
- They’re a greater fire risk – With thatched roofs being more flammable than a typical tile roof, it’s no surprise that they’re at greater risk of catching fire. Because thatched properties are a greater fire risk, insurance providers will consider owners more likely to make a claim and therefore the premium will be higher.
- The rebuild costs are higher – Because thatched roof properties are made using specialist materials and methods, they’re much more costly to rebuild when compared to a standard home. This is another significant contributing factor to the higher cost of insurance for thatched properties.
- Fire spreads much quicker – Because thatched roofs are flammable, when they do catch fire, it will spread a lot faster and cause a lot more damage. Many thatched houses are listed properties, which means they’re of national historic interest. This means if they had to be rebuilt, it would need to be done using the original construction method, which is not always easy.
How to find affordable home insurance quotes for a thatched property
When you’re looking for quotes for a thatched property, your first port of call might be the big names in home insurance that you’ve seen advertised on TV. The trouble with getting insurance from mainstream providers is that they’re usually aimed at average home owners, meaning they’re not equipped to deal with specialist properties such as thatched roof homes.
This being the case, it’s much better to get your insurance from a specialist provider that’s used to providing cover for thatched properties. Getting quotes for thatched roof property insurance is easier than ever. Whilst you can call around to get quotes from different providers, the easiest way is to use an insurance comparison service. By clicking this link, you’ll be able to get quotes form a panel of thatched property insurance specialists within a matter of minutes.
What are the pros and cons of buying a thatched roof property?
Owning a thatched roof property in a quiet village is something that many people in the UK dream about. Whilst thatched roof properties are beautiful to look at and provide some excellent benefits, there are downsides too.
Below is a close look at all the pros and cons of owning a thatched roof property.
- Excellent for insulation – Thatched roofs provide excellent insulation, meaning your home will stay warm when it’s cold outside and keep it cool during the summer. This had the added bonus of allowing you to save a lot on heating bills.
- Great durability – Thatched roofs are typically very durable and long-lasting. With proper maintenance, thatched roofs can last up to 60 years. The amount of time that a thatched roof will last depends on how well you maintain it as well as the materials used and the skill and experience of the thatcher.
- Environmentally friendly – Thatch is one of the most environmentally friendly materials you can use for a roof. The materials used are grown and harvested without the need for machinery and are usually sourced from rural communities.
- Adds a lot of character – There’s no denying that a thatched roof adds a lot of character to a property. Whilst many homes have quite a cold and uninviting appearance due to a lock of brick and double-glazing, thatched properties have a very warm and rustic charm that simply cannot be beaten.
- Ages well – Thatched roods also age very well and will shape into natural forms that adds to its charm and character. Thatch also darkens with age, helping it to blend into surrounding trees.
- Can be a fire hazard – If you’ve never owned a thatched property before then they can be at greater risk of fire if you don’t take the proper precautions. One of the most important things to look at is the health of the chimney flue. You should find out when it was last cleaned and if there’s any liner present. If there is no chimney flue liner then you should get one installed immediately.
- Maintenance is required – To keep thatched roofs at their best, regular maintenance is required. The amount of maintenance needed will depend on the materials that were used for the thatch and how exposed the roof is to pollutants and extreme weather.
- Insurance is higher – Because of the higher risk of fire damage that thatched properties carry, home insurance is higher when compared to houses with tile roofs. However, there are thatched property insurance providers who specialise in insuring thatched properties who’ll be able to offer you a quote for a lower price. Click here to get thatched property quotes now.
- Overhanging trees must be trimmed back – Any overhanging trees must be cut back when you have a thatched property. This is because it can cause the thatch to become dried out and therefore make it a greater fire risk.
What Questions should I ask when buying a thatched property?
Thatched roof properties are very popular in the UK, especially in small villages and in the countryside. They have a unique, rustic charm that’s hard to match. If you’re considering buying a thatched roof property then below are some of the best questions to ask –
When was the roof last thatched?
This is very important to know since it will give you a good idea of when the roof will need thatching again. The amount of time that a thatched roof will last depends on the materials used for thatching as well as how well it’s been maintained and the skill of the thatcher.
Water Reed, also known as Norfolk Reed is by far the longest lasting thatching material, with an average lifespan of 50-60 years. Roofs that have been thatched with Combined Wheat will typically last 25-40 years whereas Long Straw roofs will last 15-25 years on average.
Which thatcher carried out the work?
This is another vital question to ask. The reason being that finding a quality thatcher who has a high level of skill and experience can be quite challenging. If the previous owner, or letting agent, has the details of the person who thatched the roof then this is a great way to ensure that it’s properly maintained by the original thatcher.
How well has the roof been maintained?
Maintenance is very important with thatched roofs since they can degrade when exposed to pollutants and extreme weather. Typically people who own thatched properties are very proud of them so they’ll ensure they’re well-maintained but it’s important to find out exactly how often the roof has been looked at so you get a good idea of its current condition
How much does thatched property insurance cost?
The cost of home insurance is often a concern for those who purchase thatched properties since they carry a higher risk of fire damage. If you’re able to speak with the current owners directly then you should find out what they’re paying for home insurance. This will give you a good idea of what type of price you should expect to pay. Another tip when buying insurance for a thatched property is to go to specialist provider. Click here if you’d like to get quotes from a panel of thatched property insurance providers now.
Has the chimney flue been lined?
When you own a thatched property, it’s extremely important to think about fire safety. One of the best things you can do to make your property safe from the risk of fire damage is to ensure the chimney is well maintained. A chimney flue liner is therefore highly recommended if one isn’t already present in the property.
When was the chimney last swept?
If the property has a traditional fireplace, then you should find out when the chimney was last swept. If the chimney flue gets clogged with creosote or other chemicals then it increases the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning significantly.