In light of the amount of calls we get on thatch insurance, we were wondering about the most common questions asked by specialist thatch insurers to their clients and potential clients. We decided to ask our Thatch Directory Insurance Associates. Here are the great responses from some of them.
Thatch Insurance Questions
In order of responses received from some of our Thatch Insurance Specialists:
- Building Sum Insured (i.e. full reinstatement value of buildings in the event of a total loss claim)
- Solid Fuel Chimney details including height above the thatch and liner type) – especially if serving a wood burner or multi-fuel stove
- When the electrics were last checked by a suitably qualified Electrician and if a full copy of the condition report is held
- What percentage of your property is thatched? This makes a big difference in some of our provider’s quotes and terms being applied. i.e. if chimney in non-thatched roof the premiums are less and terms reduced.
- How high is the top of the chimney above the thatched roof? Some of our providers need 1.8m minimum, others ok under 1m or over 1m.
- Is your solid fuel stove both lined & insulated? Most of our providers require this to be the case.
- Is the chimney flue connected to your wood burning/multi fuel/solid fuel stove, fully lined and insulated?
- Has the electrical wiring been checked and approved by a qualified electrician? And is this report still valid?
- Have you ensured the rebuilding/reinstatement value of your listed/thatch property is as accurate as possible
These are three of the most crucial questions to rating and cover on offer.
1: Is the height of the chimney 1.8m above the ridge?
2: Do you use any of the chimneys at the property?
3: Is the property mid-terraced with a thatch roof on either side
- Do you have a woodburner, multi-fuel stove, open fire, gas central heating or oil central heating?
This is a rateable factor I.E Woodburner/Multi-fuel stove (most expensive) Gas central heating (least expensive).
- If you use a chimney at the property what is the height above the thatch?
The chimney must be at least 1 metre above the thatch or ideally 1.8 metres above the thatch.
- Is the chimney lined & insulated?
We require that it is.
- When was the chimney last swept?
The chimney must be swept twice a year, once before winter use and again Feb/Mar.
- What percentage of the roof is thatched?
- What type of thatch (i.e. Straw or Reed etc.)?
- When was the property last re-thatched?
- When was the property last inspected?
We require the thatch to be inspected once every ten years
- Is the property Detached, Semi-Detached or Terraced?
- How old is the oil tank?
Leaks from oil tanks can be an environmental disaster, especially if the leak is near a watercourse. The soil would need to be removed and cleaned and the escaped oil can cause structural movement to the property. We ask how old the oil tank is, and require annual checks if over 10 years old.
- Do you have any trees within 22ft of the property that are more than 10ft tall?
Tree roots too close to the property can cause structural damage to the property & drains around the property. Trees should be regularly maintained
Summary of Thatch Insurers’ Responses
It is apparent that fire safety is a top priority for all specialist thatch insurers. Chimneys, stoves and electrics are therefore high on the agenda. However, we are pleased to be able to add the importance of having the right re-instatement value of your property to this useful list.
Thatch Cover added the following explanation to their No 1, ‘Building Sum Insured’, which we feel is most helpful.
“Without a doubt, the most important question is the property reinstatement value, also known as the buildings sum insured. Unfortunately, it is common for policyholders to inadvertently underestimate this amount which can have devastating implications at claim stage. Most insurers will adjust the pay-out by the ratio the property is underinsured by (known as proportionate remedy or clause of average). One insurer goes as far as actually reserving the right to treat the policy as void at claim stage, even if this is an innocent mistake. In our experience, underinsurance is the norm, rather than the exception.”
So, please make sure you have the correct sum insured for rebuild/reinstatement. Also, have a safe chimney, correctly installed woodburner/solid fuel stove, up to date electric check and read our Thatch Fire Safety Leaflet.
Thanks to Our Specialist Thatch Insurers
Thanks to all those who gave us their responses. It was a very interesting exercise and, although we were not at all surprised at the content, the main questions asked (presumably due to the core risks) are very similar. These similarities show that the specialist thatch insurers have good knowledge and understanding of thatch and associated risks. Their insurance cover offered has subtle (but important) differences, which are dependent on a variety of factors such as fire risk, who is living there, use, construction, location, maintenance and others. We do however still get enquiries on some detailed questions asked to thatched property owners (which are not covered in these 3 questions) which still show a variance in cover and which may require a further article for discussion.
This being said we always feel that each thatched home is unique and that it is worth asking around to get the correct insurance that you need for your property and your own particular circumstances.
Remember to check on our Thatch Directory for specialist associates to help you in dealing with your thatched properties eg for chimney sweeps. They also help with ticking those other insurance boxes, ie. have you had your chimney swept and certified by a qualified sweep recently? Not a bad reminder at this time of year either!
The Best Specialist Thatch Insurance Cover
We hope you all find the best cover for your individual circumstances. Learning about some of the important questions that the specialist thatch insurers are likely to ask is helpful in understanding their priorities.
Please contact us with any insurance queries. We help with a lot of thatched roof inspections for insurers and purchasers along with pointing the latter to our directory for specialists to help with insurance and meeting insurance requirements. Often we just help with answering some of those tricky insurers’ questions.
Above all, remember the importance of having the right insurance cover for your home, business or property. Thatch HQ was flooded 6 years ago, and having good insurance cover was such a relief when it came to making the claim. Select the best insurance cover for you.