Specialist buildings insurance policies

Flats and Apartments

Properties that form part of a block of flats or an apartment complex are subject to a different set of regulations concerning buildings insurance. You may find that standard policies do not cover you for all eventualities and so it may be best to take out a specialist policy.

If you own the entire block you will need to consider many additional factors as well as those normally taken into consideration with buildings insurance. For example, damage to communal areas or the removal of squatters from the property. As any number of the flats may be unoccupied at one time you may need specialist cover for uninhabited areas of your building.

If you own the leasehold for a single flat within the building you should not be required to pay the full buildings insurance, this is normally arranged by the freeholder of the building, whether this be an individual or the local council.

One factor that needs to be considered whether you own the block or an individual apartment is liability. This is vital if, for example your bath overflows and damages the property below. Liability insurance will cover the damage to the third party’s property and may cover any legal actions taken against you. The terms of each policy varies greatly but if living in a shared building it is vital that you have cover that protects your neighbours’ property as well as your own.

Because living in a shared building may involve a common entrance it is vital that you check your insurer’s policy on tenants other than yourself having access to the main entrance. Unlike a more traditional living arrangement you cannot account for the actions of other tenants or their guests, and so you may be required to take out extra cover.

Listed Buildings and Period Property

Listed buildings are protected under law and in the event of damage to your home, such as by fire or a flood you will need specialists to repair or rebuild your home to the correct standard. Building materials may be more costly for this type of rebuilding, especially if you need to keep the building as authentic as possible. If using a standard policy you may be limited to using only the firms recommended by your insurer and have to pay the extra cost of having specialists in

Specialist providers may even be able to recommend a list of firms that deal in repairs to listed properties, if you are unsure of where to start on making repairs. Remember, repairing your property using modern building materials and non-specialist craftsmen may lower the value of your home.

Another factor may be the damage to a modern factor, such as an underground pipe, if this is located beneath a valuable or antique floor it may be necessary to damage the floor to gain access. Your insurer may not cover the cost of properly repairing your floor after the pipe is fixed. Some specialist insurers will offer what is known as “trace and access” cover for your property, which covers the cost of tracing the source of escaped water and accessing the source to carry out repairs. Specialist policies may also offer cover for antiques, as period homes are more likely to contain antique artwork or furniture, some policies even cover for domestic staff!

It is worth noting, however, that firms that deal with listed buildings will not pay out if you alter the building in any way, so any damage caused by DIY is strictly not covered.

Thatched Cottages

Thatched properties are much more vulnerable to fire damage than other types of property and so may need to be covered by a specialist policy. Although fire is just as common in non-thatched properties the effects of even a minor blaze can be huge if your property is thatched.

Insurance for thatched properties requires that a number of safety measures are taken to keep the policy valid. These can typically include:

Chimneys being kept in a good state of repair and cleaned on a regular basis as dictated by the insurer.

No naked flames, or tools that create naked flames present in space near the thatch, this includes the attic or loft space, whether used for storage or if in a conversion.
Electrical wiring being inspected on a regular basis, as dictated by the insurer.

Fire extinguishers of an appropriate standard being kept within the house at all times, including one kept near kitchen appliances.

It is vital that you take all possible care to safely maintain your property, and this includes the safe disposal of any previous thatch from your property.