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Thatched roof home insurance

Thatched roofs add character to a home, but they’re also trickier to fix and heighten your home’s risk of fire, pest damage and leaking.

This can make home insurance more expensive and harder to find. But cover does exist, and we work with a range of insurers who’ll insure your thatched roof home.

Compare quotes now to find the right cover for you at the right price, or read on for tips on getting the best deal.

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What is a thatched roof?

A thatched roof is made from plant material – typically straw, combed wheat reed or water reed. The material is layered in a way that keeps the inner roof dry and well-insulated.

Straw is preferred for its looks but reed can last much longer, with a lifespan of up to 40 years versus a maximum life of 20 years for straw.

According to The Thatch Advice Centre there are over 60,000 thatched properties in the UK.

Insurers view thatched roofs as riskier than standard roofs. This is mainly due to the increased fire risk posed by the material.

According to our data1, the average cost for a building insurance claim involving fire is £295,000 and for contents insurance it's £177,000.

They're also more vulnerable to damage from birds and vermin. Holes caused by animals could make the inner roof of a thatched building liable to water damage.

A good, well-maintained thatch should keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

1Confused.com data June 2023

What insurance is available?

There's no specific type of thatched roof insurance available - instead you're looking for non-standard home insurance. There are 2 types of insurance to choose from depending on your needs: buildings insurance and contents insurance.

Buildings insurance protects the structure of your home by helping you cover the cost of any repairs. This includes the walls, floor, ceiling and the thatched roof itself. It also helps cover the full rebuild cost of your home.

Contents insurance covers your personal possessions inside your home. It covers against theft, loss and damage caused by storms, fire and flood. There are 2 types of contents insurance: new-for-old and indemnity.

You can also choose to combine both buildings and contents insurance into a single policy. This can often work out cheaper than buying separate policies. According to our data2, a combined buildings and contents insurance policy for a bungalow is £143. But getting separate building and contents insurance policies would cost £125 and £54 respectively.

Finding home insurance for a building with a thatched roof works the same as any other property type. Due to the additional risk of having a thatched roof, you might find you have fewer offers to choose from, and those you do get might cost you more.

2Confused.com data June 2023

What am I protected against?

Non-standard home insurance for a thatched roof home is tailored to the increased risk of fire damage and the specialist skills needed to fix or replace it. With buildings insurance you're usually covered against damage from:

  • Fire
  • Flood and storm
  • Burglary

Fire is particularly dangerous for a thatched roof building due to the highly flammable nature of the thatch. A fire can spread through a straw and/or reed thatch rapidly.

Flood and storm damage can be devastating to any building but a thatched roof home can be particularly troublesome. Thatch materials are more susceptible to extreme weather - for example, a bolt of lightning can quickly start fires in the thatch. Also, without the proper cover, you could find yourself landed with expensive repairs that only a specialist thatcher is capable of doing.

Burglary damage is where your home is damaged during a break-in, even if the burglar didn't manage to steal anything. You can help prevent theft in your home by having the right type of lock and also choosing the best type of burglar alarm.

Are thatched roof houses more expensive to insure?

Yes. This is for a few reasons. The first is the obvious fire risk a thatched roof represents.

A thatched roof building will also typically have more expensive repair and rebuild costs, which is something insurers take into consideration when calculating your costs. This is because of the materials needed and the specialist tradespeople for this type of work.

If you own a home with a thatched roof, it’s likely it could also be a listed building. This means there could be local or national guidelines on what to do if your home needs to be repaired. These restrictions mean it could be more expensive to get work done.

According to our data3, the average building insurance policy for a Grade I property is £248 while cover for a Grade II building is £298.

3Confused.com data June 2023

How can I reduce fire risk?

There are also ways to reduce your fire risk and save money on your policy:

  • Install smoke alarms
  • Fit heat monitors
  • Look after your chimney
  • Book regular wiring inspections
  • Fit a fire barrier
  • Professionally treat your thatch
  • Install smoke alarms on all floors and in the roof space
  • Fit heat monitors for wood burners so you’ll get a warning if your flue is overheating
  • Look after your chimney with regular maintenance and make sure it’s swept frequently
  • Book regular wiring inspections for your electrical fittings with a qualified electrician
  • Fit a fire barrier coated with fire-resistant chemicals under the thatch
  • Professionally treat your thatch with fire retardant spray

What our home insurance expert says

"It's important to maintain your thatched roof to make sure you're covered in case your building is damaged or destroyed. Some insurers may not pay out if you've not maintained your roof to an acceptable standard. Tasks like getting regular fire safety checks, cutting back nearby trees and making sure repairs are done by a reputable thatcher are all important."

What do I need to get a quote?

To make sure you're fully covered, it's important you give us the right details when you get a quote.

  • Details about your thatched roof
  • When your house was built
  • Whether your house is a listed building
  • What materials the exterior walls are made of
  • The condition of the building
  • Whether the house is underpinned or has reinforced foundations
  • Any signs or history of subsidence
  • Any history of flooding
  • Rebuild costs
  • Details about your thatched roof, including what it's made of, when it was last re-thatched, when it was last inspected and what condition it's currently in. Insurers generally want to know that your roof is well maintained, with fire risk being kept to a minimum.
  • When your house was built is important to know as, if your house is particularly old, your insurance quotes might be higher.
  • If your house is a listed building due to special or historic interest - your insurer will need to know as they can be harder to repair.>
  • What the exterior walls are made of, such as wattle and daub, as this is also considered non-standard construction.
  • The condition of the building is needed as your insurer will want to know if there are any structural problems like damp or faulty wiring.
  • Whether your house has been underpinned or had the foundations reinforced - this should be detailed in your mortgage valuation or HomeBuyer Report
  • Signs or a history of subsidence are more common in older homes as their foundations are often shallower than modern homes.
  • History of flooding refers to flooding from natural sources like rivers rather than burst pipes.
  • The rebuild cost of your home indicates how much a future home insurance claim might cost. Find out how to calculate your rebuild cost with our guide or use the free rebuild cost calculator from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Building Cost Information Service (BCIS).

How can I help maintain my thatched roof?

Good thatched roof maintenance can prolong its life and reduce fire risk.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Fire safety checks
  • Work with experienced, highly-rated thatchers
  • Trim surrounding trees
  • Control algae and moss
  • Regular maintenance checks

Insurers typically ask for a certain level of ongoing maintenance – if damage happens due to poor maintenance your policy might not pay out.

Pros and cons of owning a thatched cottage

The pros of owning a thatched roof home include:

  • Thatched roofs look good and add character and novelty value to your home.
  • Using plant materials for roofing is environmentally friendly.
  • Thatched roofs have strong insulation properties, helping you keep warm in winter and cool in summer.

But of course there are cons to consider too:

  • Thatched roofs can be expensive to install .
  • They need more maintenance and regular inspections.
  • Their increased fire risks mean you’ll need to consider safety measures.

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