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How much does old house insurance cost?

They say age is just a number, but where houses are concerned, it can really make a difference – especially to the cost of insurance. Find out why age matters with our guide to old house insurance.

They say age is just a number, but where houses are concerned, it can really make a difference – especially to the cost of insurance. Find out why age matters with our guide to old house insurance.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
Last Updated
24 JULY 2023
7 min read
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Will the age of my house affect my home insurance?

Your home’s age could make a sizeable difference to how much you’ll be charged for your home insurance. Unsurprisingly, insuring an older home could be more expensive than insuring a modern new build.

While character homes with original features have undeniable charm, they also pose more of a risk. Non-standard materials, along with old plumbing, wiring and roofing, could all increase the chances of claiming. Because of this, older homes and period properties, including Victorian and Edwardian-era houses, typically require a higher level of cover.

Why does period property home insurance cost more?

There are many reasons why buildings and contents insurance for an older home can cost more. The main causes are:

Out-of-date safety standards

Older homes tend to come with a higher risk of fire or burst pipes. They were built at a time when electrical safety wasn’t as stringent as it is today, and many features were made of highly flammable materials, such as wood.

Some types of old electrical wiring are now classed as unsafe, while outdated plumbing systems might have corroded over time – making them more likely to leak.

Poor maintenance

Not looking after an older home properly, on top of years of natural wear and tear, could be a recipe for disaster. Blocked drains, slipped roof tiles, cracks in plaster and leaks that haven’t been fixed can all lead to more serious issues.

Problems sourcing older materials

Older homes are typically more expensive to repair than new builds. Original building materials can be difficult to come by, while repairs may need to be carried out by specialist tradespeople who aren’t easy to find.

Repairing homes with lime mortar walls, wooden sash windows, alabaster fireplaces or thatched roofs can be particularly expensive.

Listed building restrictions

If your home has special architectural features or is of historical importance, you might need permission from your local conservation office to replace original materials. This could make it much harder to find cheap home insurance.

What else affects the cost of house insurance for old properties?

When you get a home insurance quote, you’ll be asked the date your house was built. Other factors, some of which are related to age, could also affect the cost of your insurance. These include:

  • Your postcode
    Insurance providers will take into account local crime rates and whether you live in an urban or rural area.
  • The cost to rebuild your home
    You’ll be asked for the rebuild cost of your home. This is the cost of rebuilding it from scratch, not its market value. If your home is an older or listed building, rebuild costs are likely to be higher, because the materials needed will be more expensive.
  • The risk of subsidence
    Older properties can be more prone to subsidence because they have shallower foundations. Subsidence occurs when the ground underneath a property sinks, pulling the house with it.
  • Flood risk
    This will depend more on your property’s location than its age, although newer properties may have better flood defences in place.
  • Your home’s security
    Having ample home security, such as burglar alarms and CCTV, might lower your insurance premium.
  • Your claims history
    If you’ve made claims in the past, your insurance may be more expensive. The longer you can go without claiming, the cheaper your insurance is likely to be.
  • Whether your house is occupied
    Empty houses pose a greater risk to insurance providers. If you need to leave your property unoccupied for more than 30 days, you might need to pay extra for your insurance or risk your cover being invalidated.

How can I reduce the cost of period property home insurance?

Although home insurance for a period property may cost more than it would for a new build, there are still ways to help cut the cost of your home insurance. For example, you could:

Improve your security

There’s a lot you can do to boost security without ruining the look and character of your old house.

Several brands make smart CCTV cameras you can control from your phone. You could also add exterior LED security lights or lay gravel on your footpath or drive (the noise of walking across this could deter burglars).

Buy a combined insurance policy

It’s sometimes cheaper to combine your building and contents insurance in one policy.

Improve fire safety

It’s always advisable to install smoke detectors, particularly if your home has a thatched roof.

Stay on top of maintenance

By properly maintaining your property, you could make sure small issues don’t turn into expensive disasters. For example, regularly clearing guttering and drains, and checking for signs of damp and mould, could help keep your home in a good state of repair.

Shop around

Shopping around is the best way to find cheaper home insurance. But don’t consider price alone. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting a level of cover that suits the needs of an older house.

How do I find out if my house is listed?

To find out if your property is listed, contact the relevant heritage body for your country:

Read more about home insurance if you live in a listed building.

How can I compare home insurance for an old house?

You can compare quotes for a range of insurance deals for your older property with us. Just answer a few questions and within minutes you’ll receive a list of suitable quotes to choose from.

Compare home insurance today and see if you could save on your next premium.

Frequently asked questions

Do older properties need specialist home insurance?

In many cases, a standard home insurance policy could give you the cover you need for an older home. You’ll need to make sure you’ve accurately identified the materials used to build your home, though, otherwise a claim might be rejected.

If you live in a listed building or a period property that would be very expensive to rebuild, you may need to search for a specialist policy.

Does your property’s age affect the likelihood of a burglary?

Sometimes. In some areas, period properties could be particularly desirable and if your home commands a high price, thieves are likely to assume there will be rich pickings.

At the other end of the scale, cheaper period homes occupied by students could also be an easy target for thieves. In addition to potentially lax security, there’s likely to be plenty of laptops, phones and other gadgets lying around.

If a period property is badly maintained – for example, the doors and windows aren’t replaced or upgraded – it’s also likely to be an easy target for thieves.

When were most UK homes built?

46% of homes in England and 39% of homes in Wales were built between 1930 and 1982, according to the latest government data. The UK has large stocks of Victorian housing, particularly in its cities, as 15% of homes in England and 23% of homes in Wales were built before 1900. 

These properties make great family homes but could need a lot of maintenance.

Is my home classed as old?

There’s no definitive answer as to what age a property becomes old. But an ‘old house’ in the UK is generally one that was built before 1940.

A period home is usually one that was built before World War I, for instance, during the Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian eras.

What if I don’t know when my house was built?

If you’re not sure when your home was built, it’s worth looking at the paperwork you received when you bought the property. Alternatively, you can contact HM Land Registry.

They only keep copies of land ownership and not what’s built on the land. However, they can tell you the date of the developer’s first transfer or lease, which will usually tell you the rough age of the property.

Other ways to find out your property’s age

Not sure how old your home is? To find out, you can:

  • Check your survey
  • Contact your local authority – they may be able to tell you when planning permission was granted
  • Ask your seller or the estate agent (if you’re in the process of buying a property)
  • Ask a neighbour.

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Anna McEntee - Insurance expert

Anna’s all about delivering fantastic insurance products at a great price. Value is the most important thing for Anna, as she cuts through the jargon and finds what’s most important and worth your hard-earned money.

Learn more about Anna

Rachel Lacey - Insurance and money expert

Rachel’s a self-confessed money nerd who’s been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She spent 17 years writing for Moneywise, including a few years as Editor, and likes making complicated subjects like insurance, pensions, investing and tax, easy for people to understand.

Learn more about Rachel

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