Insuring your thatched roof house

For many people, owning a thatched roof cottage is a dream come true. But it can also be expensive, particularly when it comes to insurance. What are the risks associated with thatched properties and how can you save money on your insurance?

For many people, owning a thatched roof cottage is a dream come true. But it can also be expensive, particularly when it comes to insurance. What are the risks associated with thatched properties and how can you save money on your insurance?

Chris King
Home insurance expert
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Posted 15 JANUARY 2020 Last Updated 4 MARCH 2022

What is a thatched roof?

Thatched roofs don’t have tiles on them like ordinary homes - they use dried reeds and grass made into a waterproof roof. Wheat, barley, straw and heather are also commonly used. Water reed is the most durable as it lasts around 60 years, whereas a roof made from other grasses could only last 30 years and then has to be replaced. 

Thatched roofs keep homes warm in winter and cool in the summer, and they keep out the wind and the rain. Not only that, they add real charm and character to a home.

Risks of owning a thatched roof property

While thatched roofs might look very appealing, they generally need more upkeep than standard tile roofs. The materials used are more vulnerable to extreme weather, pollution, and general wear and tear so have a greater risk of damage. 

One of the other big dangers associated with thatched roofs is fire. A blaze can rip through the roof at an alarming speed because of the flammable nature of the thatch. Overhanging trees can also cause the thatch to dry out, creating a fire risk. 

Another potential problem is birds and vermin, including rats and mice, setting up home in thatched roofs. Birds can damage the roof when they nab pieces to build nests, which makes holes in the thatch.

Insurance for a thatched roof property

If your home has a thatched roof, you’ll need to find an insurance provider that’s happy to provide home insurance for properties with a completely or partially thatched roof.

Like a standard home insurance policy, thatched roof insurance will cover you against storm and flood damage as well as theft. But it also takes into account the increased risk of fire damage and the expertise needed to repair or replace the roof. 

You can take out separate buildings and contents cover or choose a combined policy that protects both the structure of your home and everything inside it. You can also add optional extras such as accidental damage and legal expenses cover if they’re not already included. 

You’ll usually be expected to maintain and protect your thatched roof to keep the policy valid.

What do I need to think about before comparing thatched roof property insurance?

Improved building regulations, fire safety guidance and a new generation of trained thatchers are all helping to reduce the number of thatched roof fires. Fires in thatched roofs advance quickly and are hard to extinguish. Chimneys and flues on thatched cottages are built to prevent water getting into them.

Undoubtedly, the primary concern is how much of a financial setback a damaged roof might be. Your first job is to find out how much your roof is worth and the cost to rebuild it before you start your insurance hunt. If you’re not sure then don’t worry, we’ll help you estimate the rebuild cost of your home when getting a quote through Compare the Market.

Are thatched roofs more expensive to insure?

Expect to pay more for your buildings or contents insurance as a thatched roof is a bigger fire risk than a slate roof. They also have a more expensive rebuild value than conventional houses because they’ve been built using specific materials by specialists. However, even if you have a thatched roof, you’ll still be able to get home insurance quotes from regular providers. Of course, you might find that specialist thatched roof house insurance providers offer more comprehensive cover.

How can I reduce the cost of my thatched roof insurance?

If you find that your premiums are too expensive, there are things you can do to get a cheaper thatched roof insurance quote. 

Reduce your fire risk

Your insurance provider may offer you a better deal if you have fire retardant spray, an aluminium foil barrier or Thatchbatts® installed. And get those all-important smoke detectors fitted around the house. If you have a chimney, make sure it’s cleaned on a regular basis. 

Pay a higher excess

You can save money by increasing your voluntary excess. This is the amount you agree to pay towards a claim, along with a compulsory excess set by your provider. The higher this is, the lower your premiums will be. But don’t set it so high that you can’t afford to make a claim if you need to.

Pay annually

Paying for a year’s thatched roof cover will usually work out cheaper than spreading the cost with monthly payments.

How do I compare thatched roof insurance?

You can compare home insurance quotes now with Compare the Market. We have a panel of insurance providers, big and small, including specialist providers. Just make sure you get the most suitable cover for your property by answering the questions honestly and reading any policy T&Cs carefully.

Frequently asked questions

Do only old properties have thatched roofs?

No, there are plenty of new builds being constructed in England and Wales that have thatched roofs, especially in places such as Wiltshire, Dorset and other parts of the West Country.

Can any type of property have a thatched roof?

It can, as long as the roof doesn’t slope more than 45 or 50 degrees. This allows rain water to run off efficiently. You’ll find thatched roofs on small cottages, large country houses and even hotels.

What types of thatch are covered?

You can get insurance for all types of thatched roof, including ones made of straw, water straw or reed. But do check your policy details to make sure the material used in your roof is definitely covered.

Can I insure a listed thatched roof property?

Yes - thatched properties are often listed buildings, which means they’re of historical or architectural importance. You should be able to get listed buildings insurance for your thatched home. Owning a listed building is likely to increase your home insurance premium because there are certain rules and regulations for carrying out building work.

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