Insuring an older home

Insuring an older home can sometimes be more expensive than newer builds. Our guide explains why and how you can reduce the cost

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 22 May 2023  | 5 mins read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

Information on this page was reviewed by our fact-checkers before it was published. Learn more about our fact checking process and our editorial guidelines.

You love your older home. But it can take a lot of looking after. So you’ll want to choose a policy that provides the home insurance cover it needs.

Older homes can be more expensive to insure than new builds, but there are ways to keep down the cost without compromising.

Key points

  • Older properties can cost more to insure than new builds because they’re classed as higher risk to insurers
  • Their age could make them more vulnerable to damage from things like fire, poor drainage and corroded piping
  • Rebuilding and repairing period features in an older home can be expensive, so insurance will likely be more
  • Certain types of older homes may require specialist home insurance - high-value homes or listed buildings, for instance

Do older properties cost more to insure?

In a lot of cases, yes - and for a variety of reasons.

Generally, older properties are viewed by insurers as being higher risk.

When you’re given a quote for home insurance, providers will take into account things like older electrical wiring, outdated plumbing and pricey roofing repairs.

Some older properties may also contain hazardous construction substances, like lead or asbestos, which can be expensive to deal with during repairs or rebuilding. And others might be more prone to damp or subsidence.

Also, some older and period properties are constructed using materials that are difficult to source, expensive and require costly specialist building techniques to repair.

All these things can hike up the price of your home insurance.

Why does insurance for older homes cost more?

1. If they’ve been poorly maintained

An older building that hasn’t been properly looked after is more likely to result in a claim. Years of wear and tear, made worse because of poor maintenance, can cause further damage to your home. Things like slipped tiles on the roof, blocked or sagging guttering and water damage that’s not been dealt with properly.

2. Lower safety standards when your house was originally built

Electrical safety is paramount when building homes today. Certain types of old electrical wiring are now considered unsafe and can even pose a fire hazard. Old plumbing systems may have eroded or corroded, so might be more prone to leak, fail or burst.

3. Sourcing older materials and skilled contractors

The rebuilding and repair costs for an older period home can cost more because it’s likely you’ll need to use specialist and original materials, which can be expensive. This could include:

  • Lime or clay mortar for walls
  • Wooden sash and stained-glass windows
  • Ornate solid wood doors
  • Decorative ceiling coving and mouldings
  • Cast-iron or alabaster fireplaces
  • Built-in original cupboards
  • Thatched roofs

You’ll need skilled craftsmen to work on some of these features, too.

4. Restrictions if it’s designated as historic

If your home’s particularly old, has special architectural, cultural or historical importance and is listed, your local conservation office will have a say in how it needs to be repaired if it gets damaged. Typically, it’ll require specific materials and specialist tradesmen to get back to its original state, all of which is expensive.

What else can affect the cost?

Your insurer will also take into account things like:

1. Your postcode

If you live in an area which has a lot of claims or higher than average rates of burglary, you could be charged higher premiums.

2. Flood and subsidence risk

If your home is located somewhere that’s at risk of flooding, or subsidence, your premiums might be higher than average, too.

3. Rebuilding cost

The price you pay for insurance will partly depend on the cost of rebuilding your home. That’s the amount the insurer would have to pay to rebuild your home from the ground up should it be damaged beyond repair.

4. Home security

Having smoke alarms and burglar alarms fitted may reduce the cost of your premium.

5. Claims history

If you’ve made claims in the recent past, you’ll usually face higher premiums.

Do older homes need special coverage?

In many cases, a regular home insurance policy will be enough to cover your older home.

However, if you live in a particularly grand period home that would be very costly to rebuild and will require specialist work. You may need to look for a higher level of cover with a specialist high-value home insurance policy.

Similarly, if your home is a listed building, the cost of rebuilding it using specialist materials and craftspeople could stretch to more than its market value. You may need to take out specialist listed building home insurance which is especially tailored to cover the extra costs involved.

How can I reduce the cost of insuring my older home?

There’s a lot you can do to keep costs down:

  • Make updates Installing a new roof to better protect your property from poor weather, rewiring an old electrical system and installing a new heating system could lower your premiums. Insurers will see your property as less of a risk if it’s been upgraded. So cash spent on updating your property could save you money in the long run.
  • Increase security and safety Insurers may charge you less if you have things like approved locks, a burglar alarm, security lighting and smoke alarms installed.
  • Buy buildings and contents insurance together If you get both types of home insurance from the same provider, you may be offered a discount.
  • Increase your voluntary excess This is the amount you agree to pay towards a claim in addition to the compulsory excess set by your insurer. Paying a higher voluntary excess usually means a cheaper premium. But only choose an excess you can realistically afford.
  • Compare policies Shop around to find great deals and the most suitable coverage for your older home.

Frequently asked questions

They’re older properties that were built during a particular time period in the distinctive architectural style of the era.

There’s no set definition, but there’s a general consensus that homes built before World War One would be described as period properties.

This includes Edwardian, Victorian and Georgian homes - and those going further back to Stuart and even Tudor times.

They’re not quite the same. <a href="">Listed and heritage properties</a> are those considered to have special architectural, cultural or historical importance and are protected. That means you’d need special planning permission before you make any changes to the building.

The older the building is, the more likely it is to be listed.

Go through the paperwork you received when you bought your home. This should include the title deeds or title register from your solicitor. They’ll show the date when the land was transferred from the property developer to the home’s first owner. So your home will likely have been built at around this time. If you can’t find your title deeds, you can request them from HM Land Registry.

The date your home was built could also be found on the property information form filled out by the seller. It should also be on the survey report commissioned when you took out your mortgage.

It’s often quite easy to approximately date your home by its architecture style - whether Tudor, Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian.

You could also try asking your local authority to see if they have a record of when planning permission for your property was originally granted. And if there are similar properties on your street, ask owners if they have any record showing when their homes were built.

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