insurance and listed buildings
General guidance for owners and other interested parties on the relationship between listing and insurance is set out below. We recommend that owners and tenants consider whether they need to take their own legal and other specialist advice on the insurance implications of loss or damage to their property. More detailed information may be obtained from the sources at the bottom of the page.
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Will listing require me to take out higher insurance?
It is for each owner to decide what is appropriate to cover possible risks and to protect the value of their asset. Because of the age and character of a listed building, repairs and insurance premiums may be more expensive than repairs to an equivalent modern building, but will be very similar to a traditional and unlisted building. However, as the listing introduces the possibility of the requirement for listed building consent, many insurers will adjust premiums to reflect this process which in some cases may require specialist skills. An up to date building valuation will help potential insurers assess the risk more accurately.
If my listed building suffers catastrophic loss will I be required, because of its listed status, to rebuild it as it was?
No. As a general rule, listing exists to protect the special architectural or historic interest of a building and this is unlikely to be found in a replica of the original. An owner of a listed building is not required to rebuild a property following total destruction. Decisions on what can be saved or rebuilt are taken by the local authority, not Historic Scotland.
There are well-known cases - such as York Minster or Windsor Castle - and many more less well-known examples (Ca d’Oro, Glasgow; Cullen House, Moray; Morgan Academy, Dundee; Glasgow University Chemistry Building) where buildings have been partially destroyed and thereafter restored, but this is not generally required by listed building legislation. While in exceptional circumstances restoration might be the route chosen by the owner and their insurance company (such as occurred following the catastrophic fire at the National Trust property at Uppark in West Sussex), this is very unusual.
Where the building formed an integral part of an important architectural group such as a terrace, the exact reinstatement of at least the exterior may be required by the planning authority in some circumstances.
What reinstatement may be required in the event of partial damage?
Partial loss is much more common and open to a considerable amount of interpretation. The loss of a single door, for example, that forms part of the character of a listed building is likely to require replication, as a non-matching re-instatement may not be acceptable. An insurance policy designed to cover this event would need to offer like-for-like replacement. If the interior is almost entirely lost but the shell remains substantially intact, repair of the external walls and reinstatement of the roof to their appearance before a fire or flood may be required, but rebuilding of the interior in a different manner permitted. It is largely a matter of considering each case carefully on its own merits.
Further information on fire risks and preventative measures can be found in our INFORM guide on Fire Safety
How can risks and premiums be kept down?
There are several ways in which this can be achieved. Owners are advised to reduce the likelihood and scale of loss by securing their property. Loss prevention programmes can be devised with insurers and advisors. Particular threats to be considered are fire, water damage, vacancy and break-in. Periods of repair or alteration can expose a property to these risks and require careful management.
Owners are advised, as with any property, to seek a range of quotes from insurance companies and to review the chosen premium at regular intervals. The conditions of any mortgage or loan may have to be followed. An up to date building valuation with rebuild costs will help potential insurers tailor a policy to the individual building.
Will I be required to keep my building in good repair?
Listing does not require an owner to maintain their building, but action may be taken by local authorities against an owner who allows his or her listed property to fall into serious disrepair. Owners are responsible for the repair and maintenance of their listed property, and for public liability insurance, just like the owners of any other unlisted buildings. Listing does not change this responsibility, but it does give access to a wealth of advice and expertise on conservation matters from Historic Scotland and your planning authority.
Who can I contact to discuss the availability of appropriate insurance?
Owners of complex buildings are strongly advised to obtain advice from specialist insurance brokers.
The following bodies may also be able to provide advice:
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)www.rics.org
Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)www.rias.org.uk
Listed Property Owners Clubwww.listedpropertyownersclub.com
Historic Houses Associationwww.hha.org.uk
Association of British Insurerswww.abi.org.uk
The Financial Services Authoritywww.fsa.gov.uk