Non-standard home insurance
What it is and the types of property it covers
If your property is classed as a non-standard construction, or has characteristics that mean it isn't seen as 'standard', you might need specialist insurance – and your choice of insurers could be limited. This short guide explains what counts as 'non-standard' and how to find the right home insurance policy.
What is non-standard home insurance and do I need it?
'Non-standard' properties are those that are seen by insurers as more risky to insure. This could be because they're made from 'non-standard' materials or are listed, or they could be in a location that's a riskier prospect to cover.
If you have a non-standard home, you might need a specialist insurance policy. It doesn't mean your home is uninsurable, but it can reduce your options and increase the amount you’ll have to pay for cover.
Although the definition of 'non-standard' can vary between insurers, some common factors may include:
Homes built with non-standard materials
In the UK, if your home is built with brick or stone walls and a slate or tile roof, it will typically be considered to be of standard construction. Anything else, and your home may be considered non-standard. This could include materials such as timber, thatch, concrete, wattle and daub, steel and more. We have more information on non-standard construction methods further down.
Listed buildings & high-value homes
Some buildings are given special status due to notable historical importance or stylistic features. If your home is a listed building, you could need a specialist home insurance policy due to potentially higher repair or rebuild costs. You can check whether your home is a listed building here.
It's the same if you home is worth a lot of money, or if the contents in your home are particularly valuable. Standard policies will typically have limits on how much they'll cover, so you'll need to ensure you get a policy that covers you for the full amount you need.
Homes at increased risk of floods or subsidence
If your home is in a location where there’s increased risk of flooding (or has been flooded before), or has a history or increased risk of subsidence (where the ground beneath a property shifts), then it could increase the likelihood of frequent and/or major repairs.
Homes that have been unoccupied for a long time
Standard home insurance policies have maximum lengths a property can be left unoccupied for (usually 30-60 days). This will vary depending on your provider, but if you exceed the limit you will have to look to a specialist insurer.
In some cases, yes, you could find it more difficult to get insurance. If you've a criminal conviction or have declared bankruptcy in the past for example, insurers might take this into account when determining your premium – and you could be offered a higher quote or be turned down for insurance.
Head to our Cheap home insurance page for tips on where to start with home insurance and where to go if you're struggling to get affordable cover.
What are non-standard construction methods?
Unless your home is built with walls made of brick or stone and has a pitched roof made of tile or slate, it will usually be deemed a non-standard construction property.
These types of homes will typically not be covered by standard insurance, due to the risk insurers associate with certain building materials, meaning they may be harder or more expensive to replace or repair – or if that material is deemed prone to damages. Here are some of the common examples in the UK.
Timber or steel frames
Even if there is brick cladding over the top, timber or steel frames will likely mean a home will be deemed to be a non-standard construction property due to the replacement or repair costs and susceptibility to certain environmental factors such as damp, rust and fire damage.
Flat and thatched roofs
Problems associated with flat roofs largely revolve around drainage issues and increased risk of water damage. This typically makes insurers more reluctant to offer home cover.
Thatched roofs are deemed to have an increased risk of fire and, unless you're able to rethatch yourself, any repairs or replacement will require skilled, specialised tradespeople – meaning the potential for greater expenses for insurers.
These are buildings where the components are constructed off-site in a factory, before being transported and reconstructed to a standardised design. They will be classed as non-standard due to potential difficulties in getting replacement parts and the need for specialised repairs.
Other non-standard materials
This could be pretty much anything, and will often vary depending on your insurer. It could include more modern materials such as glass or concrete, or more rarefied traditional or regional materials and building methods such as wattle and daub, clunch or flint. The difficulty in sourcing materials and the increased risk of major damage mean that insurers are more reluctant to provide insurance.
What policy add-ons can I get with non-standard insurance?
You can usually get the same add-ons with non-standard home insurance as you can with standard. The main ones include:
- Accidental damage. Though most policies cover some accidental damage, they won't cover for everything – so you might decide to pay more for more comprehensive cover.
- Legal expenses. This can help with covering the costs of any legal case involving the property, including personal injury or boundary disputes.
- Home emergency. If you need to deal with an unexpected problem, such as a badly blocked toilet or a boiler breakdown in the middle of winter, this will cover some or all of the costs.
- Personal belongings cover. If you have contents insurance, you typically won't be covered for possessions you take out of the house. This add-on is designed to cover you for things like you purse, wallet or bags.
See full details of home insurance add-ons in our Cheap home insurance guide.
How to save money on non-standard home insurance?
Non-standard insurance is likely to cost more than standard insurance because, in the event of a claim, repairs or associated expenses can be higher for the insurer.
The most important thing is to be completely honest about your situation and the home you are looking to insure, because if you leave out any information about your property to insurers, it could invalidate your policy.
As premiums can vary widely, our advice is the same as with standard home insurance: check as many comparison sites as possible to see who will give you a quote and who offers the most suitable cover.
Head to our home insurance guide for the lowdown on the best order in which to navigate the main comparison sites – and alternatives if the big providers won’t insure your home.
If after that you're unable to find an insurer who will offer you a quote, another option is to speak to a specialist insurance broker. You can find one on the British Insurers Brokers’ Association website.
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