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Listed Building Insurance

Insurance for listed buildings comes into the non-standard category for insurance companies and as such it is usually best to seek specialist advice from a broker familiar with this market.

When taking out building insurance the objective is to cover the total cost of rebuilding the property, often referred to as reinstatement cover. If in the wake of, for example, fire damage to a listed building, in excess of 40% of the historic fabric survives, English Heritage will insist on a full reinstatement (illustration for guide purposes only). This will need to be done using the same techniques and materials as originally employed.

In the case of listed buildings the rebuilding costs can be very hard to estimate. The rebuild may require the skills of approved craftsmen who specialise in traditional styles of construction. The materials required may be expensive and difficult to procure. There may be delays whilst the various permissions and approvals are applied for and obtained.

These extra costs mean that is can be difficult to obtain an insurance quote for a listed building from a standard general insurance company. A specialist insurer familiar with policies for listed buildings should be able to provide a more comprehensive and thorough valuation so that the sum assured is more accurately assessed. Policies catering for unusually large rebuild costs and contents cover are often referred to as 'high net worth cover'.

When applying to a specialist insurer you will need to have the relevant details concerning your listed building to hand such as the year of construction, the materials used and the category of the listing.

Listed buildings are classified into three seperate categories to ensure their historic significance is protected by enforceable legal statutes. The vast majority of listed buildings are classified by English Heritage as Grade II (Grade Two) meaning they are of 'special architectural or historic interest' and should be preserved. Grade I (Grade One) buildings are classed as having exceptional interest. Grade II* (Grade Two Star) are examples of buildings that have particular importance 'of more than special interest'.

Once listed the architectural and historic interest of the building must be considered before any works, external or internal, can be commenced. Persons wishing to extend, alter or demolish a listed building need first obtain listed building consent from the relevant local planning department. Note that failure to do so can result in a fine or even imprisonment. Owners of listed buildings have a statutory duty to keep the buildings in a reasonable state of repair; from the point of view of lessening insurance claims this is obviously also a very good policy in general.

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