It doesn't matter whether you live in a terraced house or a stately pile, buildings insurance is essential. A decent policy covers your home against a range of risk including fire, flood, storm and subsidence and is a financial lifeline if things go wrong. After all, how many of us could afford to rebuild our home if it burnt to the ground or was destroyed by flood?
But some homes are easier to insure than others. If your property is pretty standard, with brick walls and a tile roof, you shouldn't have any problem arranging appropriate cover. But things can get a little more tricky if you live in an unusual building. A thatched cottage or a 300-year-old listed property might look charming, but it can be difficult to insure.
Most mainstream insurance firms will turn you away because the risks to a property of non-standard construction are not easy to assess, which makes it harder to set an appropriate non standard home insurance premium.
So, you will almost certainly need to arrange cover with a specialist provider. An insurer with relevant expertise will also be able to offer a more suitable non standard construction insurance policy for your home.
Thatched and listed properties are obvious examples of non-standard properties, but others include homes with timber or steel frames, pre-fabs, eco homes or properties with shingle or flat roofs. Your insurer will ask about the construction of your home when you apply for cover – and it's important to be honest. If you fail to disclose any relevant information it could invalidate the policy. In other words, it would not pay out in the event of a claim.
Your insurer will ask about the construction of your home when you apply for cover – and it's important to be honest
Higher prices for risky homes
The premium for non standard home insurancecould be high because of the inherent risks to your home. Flat roofs, for example, are more prone to weather damage. Fire is the big hazard in a thatched property. It's not that a home with a thatched roof is more likely to catch alight than any other building, it's just that the damage caused by fire will be more extensive and more expensive to repair.
And if you live in a listed property, you are subject to all kinds of rules and regulations over repairs and alterations, which can lead to costly claims.
Get the right amount of cover
Non standard construction home insurance is pretty similar to a normal policy. It will therefore cover the structure of the building against the usual risks including fire, flood, storm and subsidence. But it can be harder to work out the sum assured for an unusual home. The sum assured is the maximum the policy would pay out and should reflect the rebuilding cost of the property – how much it would cost to build the house from scratch if it were completely destroyed. If you live in a normal home, the calculation is quite straightforward. But if you live in a home of non standard construction, you might have to employ a surveyor or value to help.
Cover for when you're away
Don't forget that you should insure your home even when it's empty. Most mainstream insurers do not cover a property if it is left unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days. So, if your thatched cottage is not your main home, you will have to arrange unoccupied home insurance during your absence.
Find the right policy for you
If you want to get the best deal on insurance for a non standard property, you can source quotes quickly and easily with MoneySuperMarket's free, independent comparison service. We give you details of the cover, too, so you can be sure it is right for you and your home.