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Insuring your thatched roof house

A thatched roof cottage is the rural idyll. But while they might look like they belong on a postcard, thatched roof cottages can be expensive to insure. Find out everything you need to know, including how to help reduce the cost of insurance, with our guide.

A thatched roof cottage is the rural idyll. But while they might look like they belong on a postcard, thatched roof cottages can be expensive to insure. Find out everything you need to know, including how to help reduce the cost of insurance, with our guide.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Home, pet and travel insurance expert
Reviewed by
Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
Last Updated
18 OCTOBER 2022
4 min read
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What is a thatched roof?

A thatched roof is one made of dried reeds and grass, rather than the more conventional slates or tiles. 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 might only last 30 years before it needs replacing.

A good thatched roof should keep a home warm in winter and cool in the summer. Ask any thatched roof owner, though, and the real draw is the charm and character it can add to a home.

Risks of owning a thatched roof property

While thatched roofs might look quaint, they generally need more upkeep than standard slate or tile roofs. The materials used are also more vulnerable to extreme weather, pollution, and general wear and tear.

One of the big dangers associated with thatched roofs is fire. Thatching is highly flammable and a blaze can rip through a roof at an alarming speed. Overhanging trees can also cause the thatch to dry out, which increases the risk of fire.

Last but not least is the fact that birds and vermin, including rats and mice, like to set up home in a warm thatched roof. The inevitable nibbling and nests can make holes in the thatch.

From an insurance provider’s point of view, this means thatched roofs are more susceptible to damage.

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.

As with any buildings insurance policy, you’ll be expected to properly maintain the roof, to ensure the policy is valid. If an insurance provider discovers that a thatched roof hasn’t been looked after and damage occurs as a result, it might not pay out.

Are thatched roofs more expensive to insure?

Unfortunately, yes. The fire risk associated with thatched roofs means there’s a greater chance of serious damage than you’d expect with a more conventional slate or tile roof.

Thatched roof cottages will also have a more expensive rebuild value than conventional houses. This is because you’ll need specialist materials and highly skilled tradespeople for repairs or replacement.

But even if you have a thatched roof, you’ll still be able to get home insurance quotes from mainstream insurance providers. However, you might find that specialist thatched roof insurance providers offer more comprehensive cover.

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

You can help reduce the cost of thatched roof insurance by:

Reducing your fire risk

Your insurance provider may offer you a cheaper quote if a fire retardant spray has been used on your roof, or you have 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 swept on a regular basis.

Paying 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 it’s important not to set your voluntary excess so high that you can’t afford to pay it if you make a claim.

Paying for your home insurance annually

If you can afford to, it’s usually cheaper to pay for your home insurance in one lump sum as interest is typically added to monthly payments.

How do I compare thatched roof insurance?

You can compare home insurance quotes with Comparethemarket. 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 the policy terms and conditions 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 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 rainwater to run off efficiently. You’ll find thatched roofs on small cottages, large country houses and even hotels.

What types of thatch can be insured?

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. But owning a listed building is likely to increase your home insurance premium, not least because it’s likely to have a higher rebuild cost.

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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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