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Top tips for getting listed building insurance

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There are an estimated half a million listed buildings in England, estimates the charity Historic England

Listing involves a formal government-backed process intended to recognise and celebrate a building’s special historic and architectural interest. Once listed, the building is subject to strict planning constraints, with the intention of preserving it for the enjoyment of subsequent generations.

The older the building, the more likely it is to be listed.

What constitutes a building as being classed as listed?

If the building is more than 350 years old, and still recognisable as the structure for which it was originally intended, it is almost certain to be listed. Most of those built between 350 and 200 years ago are also listed. Normally a building needs to be more than 30 years old before it is considered for listing.

What to consider when buying listed building insurance

Since many listed buildings also serve as homes, what are the top tips for getting listed building insurance if you own one?

  • you own a special building – as the listing process suggests – and that makes many regular home insurers distinctly nervous about offering cover. Some may even refuse to insure your prestige property; 
  • the first tip, therefore, is to consult a specialist provider of listed building insurance, who has the expertise and experience to identify those insurers prepared to deal in this particular niche of the wider insurance market – and do so without inflating the price of the premiums you pay; 
  • on the strength of advice and guidance from such a specialist provider, you are better prepared to ensure that your listed building insurance takes into account the unique character and features of your home;
  • nine times out of ten, a listed building is likely to be of non standard construction – both in its design and the building materials used – and planning constraints mean that these need to be adhered to when making any repairs or rebuilding works; 
  • the additional – usually considerable – extra costs of compliance with planning and building regulations become especially important if the property needs to be repairs or even rebuilt after a major insured event; 
  • these are the costs that need to be reflected in the total building sum insured – remembering that reconstruction or reinstatement costs are different from the market value of your listed building, as we explain in an article in our Knowledge Base
  • to ensure that you are neither underinsured (and have insufficient cover for the reinstatement you need) or overinsured (and therefore paying more than is necessary for your insurance), it may be a good idea to instruct a surveyor or valuer to estimate the current costs of reconstruction;

High value contents insurance 

  • listed buildings lend themselves to decoration and furnishings in keeping with the style of what is an historic or iconic building – so the contents of the property may be more valuable than normal;
  • when arranging your listed building contents insurance, therefore, make sure to conduct a detailed inventory and valuation of the complete contents of your home;
  • make sure you understand the single item limit per valuable (typically this could be £15,000-£25,000);
  • it is important not to forget the inclusion of adequate property owner’s liability insurance as your defence against claims that may be made by visitors, members of the public or neighbours who suffer an injury or have their property damaged through some contact or other with your listed building. (Our high net worth property insurance policies offer cover from £5m - £10m depending on the policy level you choose).

Finally, if you are wondering how much listed building insurance costs, then do note that a combined building and contents insurance policy is likely to be a more economical way of arranging the comprehensive cover you need for the building and its contents – just as with regular forms of home insurance.

Your home may be a listed building and all the more special because of that fact. Suitable protection for your home, therefore, needs to be provided by special listed building insurance.