Guide to insuring properties with thatched roofs
- If you have a thatched roof your choice of insurers is likely to be more restricted and prices higher than for properties built with slate or tile
- Comparing multiple insurers online can quickly give an idea of your options and results will include specialist providers, but if you struggle to find the right deal there are other options to turn to
- Help avoid problems by maintaining your thatched roof and taking appropriate fire precautions
If your property has a thatched roof, getting home insurance at a reasonable price can be difficult.
Insurers see thatched roofs as a significant risk because they tend to be more costly to repair in the event of a problem.
Also, the provider will need to know that the roof is properly maintained.
There's no reason why a thatched roof should be at any more risk from fire than houses with standard construction, but if a fire starts it's likely to spread faster and do more damage.
Thatched roofs need re-ridging every 10-15 years, and insurers will want to know that your roof is in a good state of repair to avoid related problems.
Many thatched cottages and other houses are very old, possibly listed buildings, and may have strict rules governing any repairs or construction.
Specialist skills are required to repair or replace thatch and - when compared to modern roofing materials - thatch is very expensive.
This all adds to the cost risk facing the insurer, which means that premiums can be high.
How can I insure my thatched roof?
If you choose to look for a quote using Gocompare.com's home insurance comparison service, you'll be asked about the age, construction and fire precautions in your thatched home from a simple drop-down menu.
You'll also be asked the rebuild value, something that owners often underestimate.
If you're unsure, in our quotes process you'll have the opportunity to use the rebuild calculator provided by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
When the results of your insurance search are produced, your options are likely to be more restrictive than if you have a property with a standard roof construction.
However, Gocompare.com's service will include quotes from insurers who specialise in providing cover for non-standard risks.
If you still have trouble finding the right cover for your needs through an online quote, we'll offer you some options for contacting specialist companies who may be able to help you off-line or over the phone. There are also other specialist thatch roof insurers in the market.
Such specialist insurers may be able to provide expert advice on roof maintenance and fire safety and to advise you if your property is located on a conservation site, or if it's a listed building. They may want an inspection of your thatched roof before they can give you cover.
How can I minimise thatched roof fire risk?
- Place smoke detectors in the roof space and around the house
- Have regular electrical wiring and chimney checks by a professional
- Make sure your thatched roof has fire-resistant barriers and is coated with a fire-retardant spray
Be aware of other possible risks to thatched roofs, such as the potential damage caused by nesting rodents and birds, or the hazards posed by high winds.
Remember, though, that thatch is naturally weather-resistant when properly maintained and a good thatched roof could last up to 50 years.
For more information about thatched roofs and how they should be maintained, take a look at the Thatching Advisory Services website.† You can also get a free fire safety check on your thatched home from your local Fire and Rescue Service.†
By Jenny West