26 September 2022

Best ways to protect your listed home: Part 1

By Abode Insurance

The first step in protecting any listed property is to insure it properly.

For buildings of historic interest and listed status, this is particularly important because they are more at risk from general damage and destructive events, such as fire, as well as being more expensive to repair. In turn, this makes it critical that you get the right level of cover.

When your home is of national importance, your insurance needs to be up to the job!

Listed buildings and contents insurance

Getting the figures right

For owners of listed properties, having to repair any damage or restore your home to its previous condition can be expensive, complicated, and nearly always a stressful process. Your home insurance policy should cover both your listed building and your contents to the right value, so in the event of a total loss your insurer can pay out enough money for a complete rebuild to the required standard.

The correct cover will also ensure the replacement of your belongings. This is called your sums insured.

You will have a separate figure for your listed building insurance and your contents cover. Combined, these figures should be enough to get your listed building restored and your lifestyle back on track. If this figure is too low, you will be underinsured. You can read more about avoiding underinsurance here.

Listed building insurance cover differs from home insurance for modern and standard properties and should be thought about in a different manner when arranging cover.

Heritage, period, and listed buildings of exceptional interest need more cover

It’s important to be aware that the cost of rebuilding a property with listed building status could be more than its market value – especially with Grade I and Grade II listed buildings and those of special interest. This is why securing the correct listed building insurance is vital.

If your historic home is lost, you may well be legally required to re-build it using its original construction methods.

Rebuilding a listed building with original methods requires specialist skills and specialist materials and equipment, as methods differ greatly from significant modern buildings. Together, this makes your rebuild more complex and costly – but the correct buildings insurance will cover it for you. The right insurance will also provide alternative accommodation for the duration of the works if needed.

Listed building insurance for a home of historical significance will be more specific than standard home insurance.

Whilst specialist listed building insurance may come at a higher premium, a specialist broker will be able to offer quotes from a panel of carefully selected insurers who truly understand your requirements and, in the unfortunate event of a loss, your insurance claim will be settled to the standard you need.

How do you determine the rebuild value for your listed home insurance?

It’s your responsibility to give your insurer an accurate idea of the rebuild cost of your home and it can be very easy to underestimate this figure.

When estimating its value, make sure you consider:

  • Cost of materials and labour
  • Value of any outbuildings
  • Your boundary structures
  • Architect’s and specialist labourers’ fees
  • Removing any debris
  • Solicitor’s fees and VAT
  • Any other costs that might arise when reinstating your home from scratch.

The total value of your listed building may seem like a lot of money – potentially much more than you paid for your home when you bought it – but it’s always worth the price of the premium, or you could end up having to fund a rebuild or repairs yourself.

If you’re unsure how to calculate these costs for your listed home insurance, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional surveyor for advice and then have your home surveyed every five to ten years as the economy changes.

If you need recommendations, just ask us and we can put you in touch with a trusted professional.

Your local authority will be able to put you in touch with your local conservation officer.

How to value your contents for insurance

The sum insured for your contents needs to cover the cost of replacing everything inside your home as brand new. It includes practically everything you would take if you moved house, including fixtures, fittings, and any items in outbuildings or sheds.

The best way to estimate your contents is to make a list of everything you own in each room of your house and tot up the total, including:

  • All furniture, including soft furnishings like carpets and curtains
  • Fixtures and fittings, including kitchens and bathrooms
  • Lighting fixtures
  • All electronic items, from games consoles to worktop appliances
  • Clothing, shoes, and handbags
  • Jewellery, antiques, artwork, and watches
  • Sports equipment like golf clubs
  • Any items stored in the attic, garage, and outbuildings.

It can take time to add up the full value of your contents and it may also come to a higher figure than you expect, but you must give your insurer an accurate figure or you could end up out of pocket in the event of a claim.

To make it easier for you, we’ve completed a handy checklist of all the items in your home you should consider when working out the value of your contents. You can download this here.

Specialist insurance cover for your antiques and collectables

If you own any fine artworks, antiques, or high-value collectable items, you may want to consider ‘Agreed Value’ cover.

This is when you agree to the replacement cost of a particular item with your insurer at the start of your policy and ensures you will receive the agreed amount in the event of a loss. It gives you the peace of mind that if anything happens to your most valuable items, you will receive compensation that reflects their true value as recently agreed, not simply the market value at the time of the loss.

As market values can fluctuate rapidly, it’s a good idea to have your high-value contents valued every three to five years to maintain an accurate idea of how much these items are worth.

A professional valuation will give you written proof as well as photographic evidence that will come in handy if you ever need to claim.

What happens if I don’t have the right level of cover for my listed building?

It’s all too easy to underestimate the total value of your sums insured for both your buildings and your contents, especially when doing so results in a lower premium. However, this leaves you at risk of being ‘underinsured’– where the amount listed on your policy as the maximum figure your insurer will pay out is less than what your claim might actually cost.

When you are underinsured, your insurer won’t pay for the full cost of your claim.

What’s more, insurance policies can be bound by the clause of average, which gives your insurer the right to reduce the amount they pay to you by the same proportion that you’re underinsured. It’s based on the idea that ‘you get what you pay for’.
So, your best course of action is to have your buildings and contents valued professionally and let your insurer know, so you’ve got the peace of mind that you will be fully covered if you need to claim.

How to keep your listed building home insurance policy up to date

Generally speaking, costs change regularly – so, whenever you take out a new policy or renew your current one, you should make sure you provide up-to-date information.

You should check the limits on your current policy just in case they’re inaccurate, and then:

  • Work out the value of your contents room-by-room. Let us know if you need help and we can recommend a trusted professional valuer for you
  • List your high-value items such as jewellery, watches, fine art, and antiques, and make sure you have recent proof of their value
  • Take photos of your belongings in each room
  • Update us when you buy anything new and expensive so we can add it to your policy
  • Check the costs of rebuilding your listed home and ask a surveyor if you’re unsure. We are happy to guide you if you need help.

There are also certain circumstances you should tell us about as and when they happen to make sure your policy remains valid until it’s time to renew again.

These include:

  • Details of any loss or damage that could result in a claim, whether or not the claim was paid, declined, or is ongoing
  • Any changes to the condition of your listed home, such as subsidence
  • Changes to any people named on the policy, such as a change in occupation, or more serious scenarios such as a criminal conviction
  • If you’re changing the occupancy or use of your property, or making alterations to your fire and security protections
  • If you’re going to leave the property empty for longer than the time indicated on your policy
  • If you’re planning home improvements or repairs, as you may need extra cover from specialist providers to protect the building works and your liabilities
  • If you’re loaning any items of value to galleries, museums, or exhibitions

The support of a specialist, listed property insurance broker

As you can see, insuring a listed property can seem complicated and potentially time-consuming. That’s why it’s always beneficial to use a specialist broker with extensive knowledge and experience in protecting listed buildings, heritage, and period homes to help guide you.

How can Abode help you ensure your listed building insurance is up to scratch and covers your rebuild cost?

At Abode, we understand the nuances and needs that come with a listed property, so we always ask you the right questions to be able to get you a competitive quote.

Using a specialist listed property insurer gives you the added security that you are speaking to an expert, and you will benefit from their advice and knowledge to ensure that your cover for your listed property is designed for you.

To speak to a specialist today about listed building insurance, please contact us, or call us on 01622476433

Read part two of this guide

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