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Last updated: 20 May 2020
If you live in a pre-fab house, a listed property, an unusual conversion or just a house with a flat roof, your search for home insurance
might be more complicated.
Home buildings insurance is designed for ‘standard’ houses. In the UK these are properties built from brick or stone, with a tile or slate roof. If your home is made of different materials, or is unusual in other ways, you’ll need to find specialist cover, called non-standard home insurance. These policies are sold by both mainstream insurers and specialist insurers. The latter may offer lower rates and have particular expertise underwriting for and insuring your type of home.
What is non-standard home insurance?
Non-standard home insurance is buildings insurance for properties that are out of the ordinary in some way: either because they’re made from non-standard building materials, have different types of roofs, are listed, are very large, or have one of a number of other quirks.
These policies cover the unique risks and expenses of repairing and rebuilding non-standard properties.
What types of homes need non-standard home insurance?
You may not necessarily know if you live in a non-standard home until you start seeking out insurance for it. And different insurers have different definitions of what constitutes ‘non-standard.’
But typically, the following types of homes will need non-standard insurance:
- Steel or timber-framed homes: These types of properties can be more expensive to repair.
- Pre-fabricated homes: Pre-fabricated homes, especially those built in the aftermath of the Second World War, like Arcon bungalows and Phoenix prefabs, can be especially difficult to insure. Deceptively, some pre-fab homes will have brick facades or veneers, but you’ll need to declare them to your insurers as pre-fabs.
- Listed properties: These properties are usually more than 100 years old and need to be repaired using traditional methods and materials, by specialist tradespeople, which can be expensive.
- Homes with flat roofs: Flat roofs are more likely to suffer leaks and other damage and can give thieves easy access to your home. Homes with shingle, plastic or rubber roofs are also classed as non-standard.
- Houses with thatched roofs: Thatched roofs are more expensive to repair and can lead to more extensive fire damage.
- Homes made from cob, wattle or daub
- Homes made from other unusual building materials: this includes homes made of flint, straw bales or bungaroosh (a composite building material found almost exclusively in Brighton and Hove); homes with grass and peat turf walls (mostly found in Scotland); and homes with alternative cladding
- Homes that are underpinned
- Unusual homes, including conversions
- High value homes: some insurers won’t cover properties with more than six bedrooms or over a certain value, for instance £1 million. You’ll need to find specialist high net worth insurance policies in these cases.
Is non-standard home insurance more expensive?
Non-standard homes are usually more expensive to insure than standard properties. Here’s why you’ll face higher premiums:
- building materials are more expensive and difficult to source
- a limited number of tradespeople are qualified to repair and maintain the properties, allowing them to charge higher rates
- the building materials used can be more vulnerable to damage
- these buildings are more likely to require ongoing maintenance
- repair and rebuilding processes can take longer, driving up the cost of labour and thus repairs
The more repairs cost, due to expensive building materials and the cost of specialised labour, the more your insurer will have to pay out in claims. Additionally, the more vulnerable your property is to damage, the more likely you are to make a claim. Higher potential costs for the insurer translates into higher premiums for you.
How do you insure a non-standard property?
When you seek out home insurance, you’ll need to provide information about the property, including the materials it’s made of, its type of roof, when it was built, and if it’s listed. Comparison sites and insurers will then know whether to classify your property as non-standard. You will then be directed to providers and policies which can offer specialised cover for your non-standard home. There are insurers which specialise in insuring specific types of properties such as those with thatched roofs and those which cater to a wide range of non-standard properties.
If you don’t know what materials are used in your property, you can find this information on the deeds.