A catch for the thatch
Those living in unusual homes can find cheaper insurance from a wide range of specialist firms, writes Edmund Tirbutt
Sunday 10 September 1995
Well-known big household insurers will normally consider non-standard risks, but the special terms they impose are rarely attractive. This tends to be particularly the case with thatched homes - which are regarded as unusually hazardous fire risks.
Norwich Union, for example, will consider all unusual risks on their own merits except for mobile homes. For most houses of non-standard construction, it will impose a 10-30 per cent increase in premium. In the case of thatched properties, the average loading is 100 per cent.
Using specialists will normally prove more cost-effective. Some types of unusual house are peculiar to distinct geographical areas. Local specialists have thus been able to develop high degrees of relevant expertise.
The presence of over 50,000 thatched homes in Britain has, in particular, led to the evolution of a formidable array of specialist insurance agents. Among those to enjoy good reputations are CGA Direct (based in Horsham), John Albion (Sudbury), Reedways (Ilminster), Country Thatch (Colchester) and Thatch- owners (part of Fenchurch group).
Catherine Crook, at the National Council of Master Thatchers' Associations, says: "Thatch insurance has now become so competitive that the specialists are offering some really good deals out there."
"Speaking as someone who lives in a thatched house myself, it is definitely worth shopping around, even among the specialists. There are such a range of discounts and excesses available that it's very much a question of horses for courses."
The thatch insurance specialists, which will normally be prepared to reimburse switching fees, are commonly able to provide contents and buildings cover for 30-40 per cent less than the traditional insurers. In extreme cases, normally involving larger houses, they can cost under half as much.
Some of the thatch insurance specialists will also consider covering other types of non-standard building. CGA Direct is particularly notable in this respect. It can cater for virtually any kind of unusual house and has a specialist scheme for listed buildings that will extend to any size of sum insured.
"The problem with having a listed property is that some district conservation officers will insist that any repairs are carried out with traditional materials, warns Richard Playle, director of CGA Direct. "You might therefore find yourself having to have oak window-frames, even though a pine equivalent would look just as nice."
Independent Insurance, which is willing to consider virtually any unusual risk, is also likely to be worth consulting for listed or other non-standard properties. It has insured everything from converted windmills and water towers to Cardinal's Wharf in London.
The company prides itself on not being blinkered by traditional rating formulas, and pays particular attention to individual circumstances. It will often send a specialist consultant to look at a property and perform a detailed risk appraisal. The terms it offers may well be conditional on implementing specifically recommended security devices and risk-management methods.
A spokesman says: "We would probably only fail to insure if there was no one to oversee the welfare of the property, such as in the case of a run-down squat."
Independent is also particularly notable for its Home 80/Fifty policy, which offers the most competitive buildings insurance rates in the entire market (from 8.5p per pounds 100 sum insured). Only those over 50 with homes built after 1980 are eligible for this.
St Paul International, which has even insured a lighthouse since entering the non-standard household market this April, also uses a case-specific underwriting approach.
Where historic houses are concerned, the market is dominated by two specialist intermediaries. Gauntlet Heritage only deals with buildings worth more than pounds 250,000 and contents of more than pounds 75,000. Bain Hogg, on the other hand, will also consider smaller country cottages, with buildings from pounds 75,000 and contents from pounds 25,000.
How to get fit in minutes
Couriers carry away savings on long-haul flights: Although there may be restrictions on baggage and length of stay, chaperoning company documents can cut the cost of travel
Dirty tricks in a divorce can cause some nasty surprises
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
Simon Read: Frozen in time - the expat British pensioners who deserve a better deal
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
iJobs Money & Business
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...
Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...
Day In a Page
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village