Specialist home insurance

If you have live in a listed building, run a business from your house or use your property as a holiday let, you may need specialist home insurance designed to fit your unique circumstances. There are many different reasons why a standard policy might not provide the cover you need, so it’s important to identify what you require from your home insurance and shop around.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 25 January 2022  | 3 mins read

What is specialist home insurance?

There are some instances where standard home insurance might not be enough to cover your home, or it may be difficult to find insurers willing to even offer you cover.

It could be that you live in a particularly old or unusually constructed property, or it might be that your home is in an area that’s at high risk of flooding.

Perhaps it’s your personal circumstances, like having past criminal convictions, that make it difficult to find insurers willing to give you a policy.

In such cases, you may be seen as too much of a risk for standard home insurance providers.

If this is the case, you’ll need to look for a specialist home policy from an insurer experienced in and willing to take on your particular needs.

Specialist home insurance caters for people whose personal situations or properties are unusual, unconventional and regarded as more of a risk to insure, or where payouts have the potential to be substantial.

It covers all the things a standard home insurance policy includes, but it caters for special circumstances.

While it might be more difficult and expensive to get specialist home insurance, it can pay to get the right cover in place.

If you make a claim and you haven’t told your insurer about your particular circumstances, they have the right to reject the claim and refuse to pay.

Key points

  • In certain circumstances, standard home insurance policies aren’t enough to protect you
  • Specialist home insurance policies cover unusual homes, those at risk of high-value claims, or people whose personal situations make it difficult to get mainstream insurance
  • Unusual, non-standard homes, or those at risk of issues like subsidence usually need specialist insurance.

What types of properties need specialist home insurance?

Let’s take a look at some instances where you may need specialist home insurance:

Old homes or properties of non-standard construction

Non-standard homes

Most UK homes are constfructed from brick or stone with a tile or slate roof.

If your home is made from more unusual or unconventional materials - like cob, wattle and daub, straw bale or concrete - then it could be classed as of ‘non-standard construction.’

This type of home is seen as high-risk, and you may find there’ll be less insurers willing to cover you.

Non-standard home insurance is designed to cover properties built from uncommon building materials that could be expensive and difficult to source. They may also be more likely to need ongoing maintenance and require specialist tradespeople in the event of a repair or rebuilding claim.

Homes with thatched roofs

Thatched roof home insurance is a specialist type of home insurance for properties with a complete or partially-thatched roof.

It considers the higher risk of fire, plus the fact that the materials used to make thatched roofs are more expensive than those used on standard homes. It also factors in that, if you need to make a claim, then you’d need to use a skilled specialist to make repairs to your roof.

Listed buildings

Listed building home insurance is designed to protect homes that have special architectural or historic interest. It recognises that these types of homes are more vulnerable to damage like damp and fire because of their age and the materials they’re constructed from. Also, they usually require rare or costly building materials and specialist tradespeople for renovations or repairs.

Self-builds

If you’re building your own custom-designed home, then you’ll need self-build home insurance.

It can cover damage to the property during the build due to poor weather, fire or flood and insure against injuries that might happen on site.

Theft of tools and construction equipment could also be covered.

Homes with a likelihood of high-value claims

Homes at risk of subsidence

Subsidence, where the ground beneath a building erodes, moves downwards and damages the home’s foundations, can be costly to put right. That’s why it can be difficult to get cover if your home has experienced subsidence, or you live in an area that’s at risk of subsidence issues.

Luckily there are companies that offer subsidence home insurance for properties that are in areas at-risk. They may also provide cover for properties that have had subsidence claims in the past, a history of movement or have been underpinned.

Homes in flood-risk areas

Standard home insurance policies cover you for loss or damage caused by flood water.

But if you’ve previously made a flood claim or live in an area at high risk of flooding, you may need a specialist flood policy.

In the past, it was difficult to find reasonably priced cover if you’d made a previous flood claim. So, the Flood Re scheme was launched to help. The scheme collects funds to help insurers offer more affordable cover.

High-value homes and/or possessions

High-value home insurance is specialist cover that you might need if you own a particularly expensive property or lots of high-end, valuable items like antiques, artwork and jewellery.

Standard home insurance policies usually have limits on the buildings and contents value.

For example, for buildings the limit may be £500,000 and for home contents, up to about £50,000 is standard.

If your home and contents are worth more than these limits, you might need a specialist high-value policy.

Second homes

Unoccupied homes

A standard home insurance policy typically won’t cover your home if it’s left empty longer than 30 or 60 days, because of the increased risk of burglary or damage. So if your property will be vacant for longer than that (perhaps you’re awaiting probate or moving abroad to work for a time) you might need unoccupied home insurance.

It can cover a vacant property for up to 12 months for everything that standard home insurance does.

Holiday homes

This provides the same level of cover as a standard home insurance policy, but for your holiday home.

The main difference is that holiday home insurance will cover your second home when it’s left empty for extended periods - longer than the 30-60 days that most home insurance policies allow.

Airbnbs or holiday lets

A standard home insurance policy won’t cover you for commercially letting your home to paying guests.

If you let a holiday home or a room in your home for short breaks, you’ll need holiday let insurance.

Typically, it can include public liability insurance which provides cover if someone is injured while staying at your property and employers’ liability insurance, a legal requirement if you employ anyone, like a cleaner.

It could also include loss of rent and alternative accommodation cover, which will pay out if you have to cancel guests because of an insured event, like a fire or flood.

You can also add accidental damage to holiday let insurance to cover any mishaps that might happen at your property because of your guests.

Individual circumstances

Bankruptcy

If you’ve been declared bankrupt, some home insurers will refuse you cover as you’re regarded as too much of a risk on paper.

But there are companies that will insure people who have been made bankrupt, or those with poor credit histories. You could use a broker to help.

If you hide the fact you’ve been declared bankrupt from your insurer, it could invalidate your home insurance.

Homes used for business-use

If you run a business from home, then standard home insurance probably won’t provide enough cover.

Specialist home business insurance provides includes public liability insurance, which protects you if you have customers coming to your home. For instance, if you’re a dog groomer, childminder or tutor. This covers you if someone is hurt or injured on your property.

Cover for business equipment or stock you keep at home can also be included in a home business insurance policy.

Criminal convictions

You’ll be asked if you or any other resident has an unspent criminal conviction when you buy or renew a home insurance policy.

People with criminal records are usually seen as higher risk, so some insurers won’t provide cover at all or if they do, it could be quite expensive.

Some mainstream providers might provide you with home insurance, but you may need to go through a broker to find specialist insurance for people with criminal convictions.

Is specialist home insurance more expensive than standard home insurance?

In some cases, specialist home insurance might be more expensive because of the heightened risk associated with your property or circumstances.

But it’s important you’re clear and upfront with your insurer about everything to ensure you’re properly covered if you have to make a claim. Failing to tell your insurer or giving false information could invalidate your policy, or leave you underinsured and majorly out of pocket.

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