Insuring Your Historic Homes

Older homes can offer up an array of surprises, from the fantastic to the touching to the strange. They may also bring unwelcome surprises from your insurance company if you need to file a claim.

If your home is old but has been updated with modern building materials, you won’t have as much to worry about. But if you have an historic home—one that is true to its original style and place in history—it’s important to be sure that your insurance covers restoration, not just replacement.

Image: Thermal Image of Home | by iRed

Replacement means you get a new oak floor. Restoration means you get a floor sourced from the same type of wide planks that were available when the home was first built. Replacement means your new floors are engineered to snap into place. Restoration means you get floors installed by a craftsman who knows how to replicate building methods from the 1800s.

Restoration also ensures that a property holds its value for resale and keeps its historical-cultural integrity intact. A good appraisal is the key. Your insurer should engage the services of individuals with expertise in your home’s particular style of architecture and engineering to assess the property thoroughly. Then the policy can be written with special requirements noted.

New technology can also help to maintain your historic home. Chubb, one of our carrier partners, uses an infrared camera to identify moisture problems, air leaks and potential hazards. Another helpful assessment is voltage testing, which may prevent electrical issues that could lead to fire and smoke damage.

It’s also important to consider the contents of an historic home. If the furnishings are in the style of the period that the home was built, they may be pricier and more expensive to replace than a typical home. While it’s easy to find a mid-century modern-style chair, finding one produced by Danish designer Arne Jacobsen in the 1950’s will be more difficult. Since historic homes come in just about every size, style and price point imaginable, an insurance company with a one-size-fits-all approach will not be the right choice for an historic homeowner.

In addition to the interior, a third area of concern is landscaping, which can change over time due to weather and as vegetation grows and is cut back. The exterior of your home should be evaluated from time-to-time to make sure there are no drainage issues developing that might cause water to enter the home. And if historic landscaping is part of your property, this should also be noted by your insurer so that plantings will be restored after a weather event or natural disaster.

The special personality of an historic home is often the very thing that makes it more challenging to restore. If you’d like to work with an insurance company that has expertise in valuing unique, older homes and following through to be sure your restoration is done properly, contact a Kelly Klee Coverage Expert here.

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