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).
BUT is that necessarily true?
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.