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  • Guide to thatched property insurance

    Thatched property insurance

    Thatched cottages are a big part of the quintessential British charm, however, any building with a complete or partially thatched property needs to be covered by a non-standard construction insurance policy, tailored to meet the specific needs of your property. There are significant additional risks associated with a thatched roof and therefore this risk needs to be taken into consideration and fully understood by a specialist insurance broker.

    Why do you need thatched property insurance?

    A thatched property is notoriously prone to fire hazards, but also the structure of the building is less likely to conform to modern day building regulations. Whilst any home is at risk of fire damage, a thatched property is more likely to catch alight in the presence of a naked flame as well as being more at risk of rapidly spreading and causing extensive and expensive smoke damage, more than that experienced with standard roofing.

    Often fires in thatched properties start in the chimney and spread out as the chimney perishes in the intense heat. Not only does the building hold this added risk, but thatched buildings also tend to be expensive to repair following damage due to the cost of materials and skilled labour. With this in mind, a re-build cost which is needed for buildings insurance purposes is likely to be much higher than a standard building construction. More than 75% of thatched properties across England and Wales are also listed, meaning that any repairs are much more costly due to having to be carried out using original materials and building methods.

    In terms of repair, a thatched roof needs re-ridging every 10-15 years, depending upon the exact material used, and therefore insurers will be interested in the current state of the roof. Thatched properties can also be prone to damage from nesting rodents or birds as well as high winds so all of this needs to be taken into consideration.

    Questions you should consider if you are purchasing a thatched property

    You should look to find out from the owners of the property when the roof was last thatched and if any repair work has been carried out. It is important to know when the roof was last surveyed, when the ridge was re-thatched last, and if any coatings have been applied. In addition to this you should also ask about the chimney and if it has been sufficiently lined and when it was last swept.

    What will your insurer need to know?

    It will be important for your specialist insurance broker to understand the type of thatch material which directly impacts on the likely life span and need for repairs. Types of thatch material include Water Reed, Devon Reed, Combed Wheat, Norfolk Reed or Long Straw. If you are investigating thatched property insurance then the insurer will also need to know the depth of the thatch, the height of the chimney above the ridge, how far you are located from the nearest fire station and if the property possesses used open fires within.

    Possible exclusions under a thatched property insurance policy

    Under a thatched property insurance policy there are normally a set of standard requirements to validate the insurance policy. Such requirements include making sure that all chimneys are kept in a good state of repair and are professionally cleaned regularly, at least twice a year, and importantly before first use after the summer.

    Two fire extinguishers and two fire alarms must be kept in the home and maintained in good working order. No naked flames or tools that produce naked flames are to be kept in the loft or attic space, and a valid electrical certificate no more than 5 years old is to be provided. The roof itself must also have been inspected by a thatcher within the last ten years and treated with fire retardant.

    In addition to this it is wise to avoid any wiring in the loft area and lighting any fires in the vicinity of the property.

    Want to find out more about Bluedrop's non-standard construction insurance?
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