Listed buildings need specialist insurance because of their historical significance and the techniques and materials used in construction. This guide aims to help you understand what's involved in shopping around for listed building home insurance and the policy features you may need.
We have also negotiated a 10% cashback deal on listed building cover for our members with 5-star insurer HomeProtect. Join our specialist home insurance group to access the offer.
You can also get an online quote from specialist insurers like CoverBuilder.
Non-standard home insurance | How much does listed building insurance cost? | Making changes to listed buildings | Risk prevention | Contents and buy-to-let listed building insurance| How to insure listed buildings
There are currently more than 35,000 listed buildings in the UK. Listed buildings are considered of historical or architectural importance and are classified as either Grade I, Grade II*, or Grade II (sometimes written as Grade 2), depending on their level of interest. Around 92% of listed buildings in the UK are Grade II, meaning that the “buildings are nationally important and of special interest”.
Most buildings built in the years 1700-1834 are likely to be listed, as are any built before 1700 that are somewhat near original condition.
You can check whether a property is listed using Historic England's search tool. Although an estate agent should tell you about a building's listed status, the search tool can be used to double check and it includes detailed information about why the property is listed. This can help you plan or save for any specialist repairs it may need. It's also critical information for the insurance you'll need to have in place before you complete on the purchase.
Because of their protected status, some mainstream insurers will not cover listed buildings.
Non-standard home insurance
Getting home insurance for a listed building is unfortunately not as easy as for a modern home. Insurers may refer to cover for listed buildings as non-standard or specialist home insurance, although some may label it as listed building insurance. You can find out more other non-standard home policies, such as homes in high flood-risk areas, here.
The history that makes listed buildings unique and fascinating places is also why they need specialist insurance. For example, they can be constructed from materials that are not used today, such as wattle and daub or old brickwork, which is more expensive to source and replace. Also, features like a thatched roof require higher maintenance from skilled professionals and older buildings can be prone to structural issues and problems like damp and decay.
Insurers believe there is more chance someone in a listed building will make a claim and because claims may involve specialist work they will be more expensive.
How much does listed building insurance cost?
The cost will vary depending on factors such as the age, condition and value of your listed property, as well as its postcode.
Specialist insurance for listed buildings can be more expensive than standard home insurance for modern properties.
We got a test quote for a Grade II 3 bed semi-detached house in Reading. We said it was in good condition and had no previous claims. HomeProtect's quote, which included £30,000 of contents cover and a home emergency policy, was £19.82 a month or £214.44 a year.
By joining our specialist home insurance group you can get 10% cashback with HomeProtect, and get a quote online.
Making changes to listed buildings
Because of their protected status, making changes to a listed building can be a complex process. However, according to Historic England, "listing is not a preservation order, preventing change. It does not freeze a building in time, it simply means that listed building consent must be applied for in order to make any changes to that building which might affect its special interest".
This means listed buildings can be altered or extended, but to make any changes you need to receive listed building consent from the local planning authority.
It is a criminal offence to make changes to a listed building without this consent. You may also need to apply for planning permission and comply with building regulations, which are separate to consent.
It's also important to let your insurer know of any changes you intend to make to a listed building and to always have an accurate valuation of the property.
Before buying a listed building, it's a good idea to make sure that there was no breach of listed building consent by previous owners.
However, it is possible to buy indemnity insurance for listed buildings, which aims to protect you from work that does not comply with listed building consent. It can payout if an enforcement officer spots illegal work and forces the owner to pay for the building to be put back to its original state. It is worth seeking legal advice before buying indemnity cover for consent issues because if you know any work has not been approved it can invalidate a policy.
Indemnity insurance is not the same as home insurance and will not cover you for any damage to your house.
It is possible to apply for listed building consent and planning permission retrospectively if you think changes will be approved by planning authorities
Owning an older building with history has many positives, but it's also a responsibility. Listed buildings need to be regularly and properly maintained in order to reduce the risk of you needing to make an insurance claim.
Properly maintaining and protecting a listed building should include things like inspecting the roofing and gutters regularly, repainting woodwork, cleaning chimneys, installing high-sensitivity smoke alarms and burglar detectors, and having regular electrical checks by qualified electricians.
Contents and buy-to-let listed building insurance
Many listed building insurance policies will include contents insurance, meaning that your possessions will be covered, as well as the building itself. Insuring both together with one company can be cheaper than using two companies.
If you're a landlord of a listed property, it's important to have suitable buy-to-let or landlord insurance, as standard insurance won't cover everything you need, such as damage caused by tenants. Find out about the best landlord insurance policies in this article.
How to insure listed buildings
The process of getting listed building insurance can be very simple and many companies will give you a tailored quote online. However, you will need to know a few details about the house such as the year it was built (you may be able to provide an estimate for very old buildings), what the walls and roof are made of and whether it has suffered problems such as subsidence.
You may also need a specialist valuation so that you can let the insurer know the rebuild cost.
HomeProtect gives tailored quotes on its website. Members of Bought By Many's specialist home insurance group receive 10% cashback if they buy through HomeProtect. It's free to join our group.
HomeProtect has a 90% customer satisfaction on ReviewCentre and 87% of customers say they saved money with HomeProtect (Survey 2015, May-Sept, 239 responses). You can read our full review of HomeProtect's cover here.
You can also compare HomeProtect's cover with Hiscox and NFU Mutual, two other specialist home insurance providers. Hiscox is popular with those with high-value houses and contents, because of its unlimited cover option. Hiscox says it will often insure Grade 2 listed properties, subject to their value. You can get a quote from Hiscox here.
We've also ranked the 10 best standard home insurance policies here.