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Listed building insurance

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What is listed building insurance?

Listed building insurance protects properties that are of national historical significance.

Listed buildings often require specialist construction methods or specific materials to maintain their historic look. There are around 430,000 listed buildings in England and Wales alone.

Generally, the older a building is, the more likely it is to be listed. For example, all buildings built before 1700 are listed. But it’s rare to find a listed property built in the last 30 years.

Historic England and Cadw (Wales) categorise listed buildings into 3 types:

  • Grade I - buildings of exceptional national interest
  • Grade II - buildings of particular importance and more than special interest
  • Grade II - buildings of special interest

Listed buildings might need a specialist home insurance policy. This is because the materials and methods of maintaining them could be more expensive than for a standard property.

What does listed building insurance cover?

A listed building insurance policy works much like standard buildings insurance. It covers the actual structure of your listed building against damage from:

  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Storms
  • Vandalism

Listed building insurance covers the cost of repairing and rebuilding the property. This might include sourcing original materials and expert labourers who specialise in traditional construction methods. Some policies could also offer you alternative accommodation while the building is being restored.

Given how old listed buildings tend to be, they could be more susceptible to wear and tear. This might not be covered by your policy.

It’s important to note that this only covers the physical building and fixtures, not the contents of the property. If you want to protect your possessions from fire, theft and damage, you might also want to consider a contents insurance policy.

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How much does listed buildings insurance cost?

Every listed building is unique – its own little piece of history. So, it’s difficult to give a ballpark figure of how much a listed building might cost to insure.

How much you pay for your policy could depend on several factors including:

  • How old the building is
  • What grade listing it has
  • Whether it has any non-standard construction - for example, a thatched roof
  • How robust your home security is

Typically, listed building insurance can be more expensive than a standard buildings insurance policy. Generally, listed buildings tend to be older and more expensive to rebuild and repair.

So, any home insurance claims for listed buildings are likely to be higher than for a modern house. This added cost might be reflected in a higher premium.

What add-ons are available with a listed building insurance policy?

There are some extras you could add to your policy if you need them. These provide additional cover for:

  • Accidental damage
  • Home emergency cover
  • Legal expenses
  • Subsidence
  • Unoccupied property

Accidental damage covers you for damage that happens accidentally – for example, if you spill wine on the floor.

Home emergency protects you from sudden misfortunes that compromise your home or your health. For example, a burst pipe or a broken-down boiler.

Legal expenses could help cover your legal costs if someone injures themselves on your property and takes legal action against you.

Subsidence cover covers the cost of repairs if part of the building starts to slip. This might be important for older buildings that rest on not-so-solid foundations.

Unoccupied property cover could come in handy if you're away from your property for more than 30 consecutive days. Most buildings insurance policies only allow you to be away from your property for up to 30 days. The added cover extends this.

What are the different rules for listed buildings in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales?

England and Wales use the same grading system for listed buildings - Grade I, Grade II* and Grade III.

You can apply to have a building added to the register of listed buildings at Historic England or Cadw.

To make any changes to a listed building in England and Wales, you need to apply for consent with your local authority.

In Scotland, listed buildings are graded in 3 slightly different categories. They cover buildings of special historical interest that are:

  • Category A - outstanding examples of a particular period
  • Category B - major examples of a particular period
  • Category C - representative examples of a particular period

You can apply for listed building status at Historic Environment Scotland.

In Northern Ireland, buildings are graded in four categories by the NI Department of Communities:

  • Grade A - buildings of the greatest importance that are representative of a particular style or period
  • Grade B+ - buildings that have exceptional features that don't quite meet the criteria for grade A
  • Grade B1 - good examples of a particular period where one or more features are of exceptional interest
  • Grade B2 - special buildings with features that raise them above the standard of others in the area

Grades B1 and B2 allow for some degree of imperfection or alteration.

Each database will allow you to check if your property is listed and what grade it is.

How do I get a listed buildings insurance quote?

The process of getting a listed buildings insurance quote should be straightforward. But if you want to speed things up a little, it's worth having these details ready:

Details of the property:

  • The year it was built as older properties could be more at risk of subsidence and other damage.
  • The year you bought the property. If you’re renting, this would be the year you moved in.
  • What security measures you have in place, including burglar alarms and the type of door locks you have.

If you're also looking for contents insurance:

  • The total value of your belongings - if you’re unsure you can use our contents calculator.
  • Details of any specific high-value items, including laptops and bicycles worth over £150, plus single items valued over £1,000 e.g. jewellery.
  • The rebuild cost of your home, which might not be the same as the market value. It’s the amount it would cost to rebuild your home from scratch. For listed buildings, you might need a chartered surveyor due to the unique nature of the building.

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Why do I need listed building insurance?

Owning or living in a listed building is a privilege, but also a responsibility. Its listed status usually means you need to comply with strict rules on how you can change and maintain the property.

This usually comes with added costs, especially when you factor in the specialist materials and unique skillsets required for traditional construction methods.

For example, a small thatched roof could cost thousands of pounds to replace. And, due to natural wear and tear, you might need to replace it every decade or so.

If the roof caught fire after being struck by lightning, for example, that cost could be covered by your listed building insurance policy. Without it, you might have to foot the bill yourself.

Most listed building insurance policies insist that you maintain the property to a good standard. This includes:

  • Regular checks of the roof for loose tiles and damage
  • Checking for cracks in the walls – a possible sign of subsidence
  • Maintenance to prevent damp in the building
  • Pruning of trees and removal of invasive plants like Japanese knotweed
  • Keeping gutters and drains clear and free of debris

Like standard home insurance, there’s no legal obligation to insure a listed building. But it’s recommended that you have a policy in place to make sure the building is properly protected. Most mortgage lenders will actually insist on people having an insurance policy in place as part of their terms.

What our home insurance expert says

Listed buildings are unique, but finding the materials to repair them is harder than for modern homes and can be more expensive. Having listed buildings insurance can give you peace of mind that if something does happen to your listed home, you’ll be covered.
Jessica Willock home insurance expert signature

Jessica Willock

Home insurance product manager

Historic Buildings Capital Grant Programme

Historic Buildings Capital Grant Programme

Cadw - the historic environment service of the Welsh Government - are funding a grant focusing on the repair of listed buildings in Wales that are at risk or in a vulnerable condition. The grant can fund up to 50% of eligible works, to a maximum of £250,000. The goal is to help owners and custodians of listed buildings to and safeguard and preserve them for the future.

If this applies to you, you must submit an 'expression of interest' before 23 December 2022. Cadw will then make its decision on eligible applications by 10 February 2023.

Find out how to apply for the historic buildings capital grant.

Need more help?

If I live in a conservation area, do I need listed building insurance?

Conservation areas have additional protections that go beyond the buildings themselves. A conservation area might also include unique and interesting landmarks, roads and boundaries.

If your house is in a conservation area, chances are the property itself is a listed building. If this is the case, it might be worth considering a listed building insurance policy.

How do I maintain my listed building?

It's important to take good care of your listed building. Regular maintenance reduces the risk of smaller issues becoming big, expensive problems. This also reduces the risk of you making a home insurance claim.

Regular checks on your listed building are much the same as any other property. Regular inspection of these areas should help keep your home in a good state of repair. You should check for signs of wear, rot, damp or damage in your:

  • Guttering and drainage
  • Roof
  • Walls and brickwork
  • Wooden beams

Remember that any repairs you make shouldn't take away from the historic character of the building. This might require specialist materials or techniques. This is why it's important to address small issues before they become bigger problems.

How does planning consent for a listed building differ between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

Planning consent is down to your local planning office, who may refer the application to one of the higher planning authorities in the UK. This depends on where you live:

  • In Wales, your local planning office refers to the Welsh Government and, if necessary, to Cadw.
  • In Scotland, your local authority refers your application to Historic Environment Scotland if needed.
  • In Northern Ireland, your local planning office consults the Historic Environment Division in the Department for Communities.
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