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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 three 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 specialist home insurance 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.

The policy covers the actual structure of your listed building against damage from:

  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Storms
  • Vandalism

Listed building insurance covers the costs 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, which 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
  • What grade listing it has
  • Whether it has any non-standard construction e.g. a thatched roof
  • How robust your home security is

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

There are a few extras you could add to your policy, should you need them:

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

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

Unoccupied property cover could come in handy if you're away for 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 II.

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 three 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:

  • 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.

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 could be worth having the following information to hand:

Details of the property

  • The year it was built – 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 – this includes burglar alarms as well as 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 as well as single items valued over £1,000 e.g. jewellery.
  • The rebuild cost of your home – this 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.

It’s worth noting that most listed building insurance policies might 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

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

Need more help?

Can I make changes to my listed property?

It’s a criminal offence to alter or extend a listed building in a way that affects its character without prior consent.

So, before you make any updates to the building, get in touch with your local authority and get consent if needed. If in doubt, speak to your local planning office.

How do I check if my property is listed and what grade it is?

Each country in the UK has its own database of listed buildings that you can search:

Do I have to insure a listed building?

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.

If you don’t have an insurance policy in place and something went wrong, it’s your responsibility. This means it’s up to you to pay for any repairs that need doing. It’s also worth considering that claims on listed buildings tend to be more expensive due to the higher cost of materials and repairs.

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.

What does it mean for me if my property is listed?

Owning a listed building means that there might be restrictions on how the property is maintained. Usually, it means that any renovation or maintenance needs to be done using materials that are in keeping with the time period.

What are the risks of insuring a listed building?

Unlike modern new builds, listed buildings are usually much older and may require a specialist type of insurance.

Due to their age, listed buildings are often more vulnerable to damage and other structural issues. This also means they pose a greater risk in terms of the cost of repairs. It’s important that you get the right level of cover in your policy, ensuring the building is covered in case of severe weather, fire or flooding.

Why is listed building insurance more expensive?

Listed building insurance might be more expensive than a standard buildings insurance policy.

There are several factors that impact how much you pay for your home insurance. But 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 parts of a house are listed?

Usually, the listed status applies to the entire building. Any exclusions should be noted on the list description.

Sometimes, attached structures and later additions might also have listed status. If you’re unsure, get in touch with your local planning authority who should be able to tell you which parts of the building are listed.

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