Thatch Roof Insurance Guide for Thatched Property Owners.

Thatched roofing is becoming increasingly more popular among property owners looking to add a bit of historical relevance to modern dwellings. That said, some property owners are dissuaded from embracing thatch due to misconceptions about thatch roof insurance. We want you to know that insuring a thatched structure is not only entirely possible, but it is not extremely expensive either. Thatched roof structures can be insured at prices comparable to structures with conventional roofs.

With this introductory knowledge at hand, there really is no excuse for not having buildings insurance on a thatched structure. Far too much can go wrong to take the risk of not having cover. And, unfortunately, although thatched structures are no more likely to be damaged than conventional structures, the seriousness of any damage tends to be more severe when it involves the roof. Not having buildings insurance on your thatched property is just not wise.

Finding the Right Insurance Cover

A common misconception among the general public is that thatched roof insurance is prohibitively expensive. This is just not true. The key for property owners is to shop around just as they would if their homes had conventional roofs. The fact is that some insurance companies are more expensive than others.

Finding the right insurance cover should also never focus solely on bottom-line price. Property owners should not settle for anything less than a policy offering like-for-like replacement in the event a claim is made. Included in this is a high enough rebuild cost to cover the entire expense of rebuilding in the event of a catastrophic incident – such as a fire.

A good place for property owners to start is that group of specialist companies that focus on thatched structures. Believe it or not, many of the master thatchers in the UK have business relationships with insurance companies that certify their work. These kinds of insurance providers tend to offer the best possible protection.

Insurance companies are known to require property evaluations as a condition of establishing cover. In such a case, the insurance company would send out a representative to assess the property within the first few weeks after cover begins. That representative will check the property thoroughly and, if necessary, make recommendations for improvements and repairs.

Important Considerations for Insurance Cover

Because the risk of damage to thatched structures can be greater in some circumstances, insurance companies tend to be a bit more cautious when writing policies. Property inspections by insurance company representatives are only the start. Some insurance companies will also address:

Electrical Inspections – We already know that electrical inspections are an important part of fire protection for thatched structures. Some insurance companies require routine inspections to ensure electrics are in good condition.

Fireproofing – Insurance company might insist on fireproofing using thatch batts, an aluminium foil barrier, or fire retardant spray.

Water Sources – Having nearby water sources in case of fire goes a long way toward making an insurance company more comfortable about ensuring a thatched structure.

Chimneys and Wood Burners – It may be necessary to check with an insurance company about chimneys and wood burners. It's not likely that an existing chimney would prevent an insurance company from writing a policy, but they may not be willing to cover a supplemental wood burner.

Smoke and Fire Alarms – Smoke and fire alarms should absolutely be installed in all thatched structures. Insurance companies may require them as a matter of course.

Property Condition/Construction – Part of a property inspection is to determine the current state of the property being insured. Additional inspections may be required whenever construction is undertaken, just to ensure that the building remains as safe as possible.

Property Use – A residential property is insured in one way while commercial properties are insured in another. Prior to insuring a thatched structure, a property owner may have to provide proof of how the structure is used.

There may be other issues an insurance company raises before insuring a thatched structure. Again, we must reiterate that a specialist insurer is more likely to provide the kind of comprehensive cover owners of thatched properties need. General insurance providers may not offer cover at all; if they do, their cover may be restricted.

Buildings and Contents Cover

Property owners should be aware that two different kinds of insurance can be purchased for a residential structure. One is buildings cover, and the other is contents cover.

Buildings cover is designed to protect the structures themselves. On a typical rural property in the UK, buildings cover would extend not only to the house but also to any garages or other outbuildings that may exist on the property. This insurance only covers repair or replacement to the physical structures as a result of fire, weather damage, etc. It does not protect the actual contents of a home. That's what contents cover is for.

It is not uncommon for owners of thatched structures to not give contents cover its proper due. This can end up being a costly mistake should a claim ever have to be made. For example, consider a fire in a thatched structure as opposed to one with a conventional roof.

Even though thatched structures are no more likely to catch fire, the likelihood of significant damage when a fire does occur is far greater due to roofing materials. A fire that would cause only minor damage to a structure with a conventional roof can be devastating to a thatched structure. Therefore, the contents of thatched structures are also at greater risk in the event of a fire.

Insurance experts recommend that property owners have an insurance company representative come out and assess contents in order to secure a proper level of cover. They know what to look for; they will be able to advise property owners on the best way to cover their contents for maximum protection.

Insurance in Summary

In summary, thatch roof insurance should not even be a question among property owners. Not insuring a property is asking for trouble in the event of any kind of damaging incident. Buildings insurance is the absolute minimum a property owner should carry.

Property owners tend to do best (in terms of the cost of insurance) when they work with specialist insurance providers that focus on thatched structures. Specialist providers have the extra knowledge and experience to provide the right kind of cover at a reasonable cost. General insurance providers may not have the resources to provide effective cover.

If you are the owner of a thatched property, do you have reliable insurance in place? If so, be sure to review your insurance policy on an annual basis just to make sure nothing has changed. You might want to compare insurance rates from time to time as well. You may reach a point where another provider offers comparable coverage at a lower cost.

If you do not have a solid insurance policy in place, there is no time to waste. Disasters don't discriminate. Make an effort to begin shopping for insurance cover right away, with the goal of getting your property covered as quickly as possible. We recommend getting at least two or three quotes on comparable policies. The sooner you can protect your property with thatch roof insurance, the better off you will be.

About the Author


Ryan is a freelance journalist and spends most of his work time researching and writing for many well know industry magazines. In particular, he has a passion for British historical architecture and is himself a proud owner of a period thatched cottage.