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Historic buildings need modern insurance

Historic buildings need modern insurance

Making the most of professional advice

Whether you are considering restoration or alteration work, it is vital that you have watertight insurance from the start. If you are lucky enough to own an historic building, whether a stately home or an ancient cottage, a standard policy from a general insurance provider may not give you the cover you require. Remember that if your property is listed it is protected by law – and you have a duty to insure it properly.

Use a specialist insurance company - one who can provide advice and guidance, negotiate a good premium for you and who can arrange a risk management appraisal if required. They should also think ahead for you and take into account any possible issues arising should you decide to extend, alter or repair the property.

Start with the building value as the difference between market value and re-instatement value is crucial for historic buildings. Firstly, consider how much it would cost to rebuild the entire building using like for like materials and methods of construction. Take care with this – looks can be deceptive and a building may look as though it dates from the eighteenth century on the outside but may indeed prove to be much older on the inside. Remember that all those special features with which you fell in love all need protecting under insurance schemes, so include the fireplace mantles and carved timber panelling etc – replacing them could prove extremely expensive.

Repair contracts of substantial historic buildings can be long and complicated and can result in spiralling costs. The standard 'cost per square-metre' tables used by ordinary insurers and mortgage company insurers to calculate re-building costs will not work with historic buildings – especially if you need to rebuild using authentic materials. As a yardstick, if your house is pre-1920 then get sound, professional advice from a specialist insurer.

The time to speak with your insurance company is the moment you decide to extend or renovate your property because you will need a different type of insurance to cover the works. If your property is to be uninhabited during the works, extra theft cover may be required – and if your property is open to the public you may also need to review your public liability cover.

Just as you will need to work with craftsmen to restore your building, make sure you engage the services of someone who is a professional when it comes to insuring old properties. By planning ahead you will save a great deal of heartache should disaster happen: so the older the building, the more professional advice you need. Seems that buildings, like people, mature gracefully but need a bit of help as time goes by!

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 9th August, 2010