Heritage Homes May Need Special Insurance - Here's Why

Owning a piece of history can be a great experience -- but when that history is a heritage home, it may cost more than you think to insure. Heritage homes require special maintenance and may take more time to rebuild after disaster because of government regulations. Here's what you need to include in your heritage home insurance policy.

What Makes a Heritage Home?

Most heritage homes have some years behind them. But age is not the deciding factor for a heritage home designation. The property must have historical significance too. Heritage designations are granted by municipal, provincial or federal governments. Each have very detailed requirements to obtain the heritage seal and rules on renovations and replacement after damage.

As a homebuyer, you might be on the market for a heritage home, or weighing whether to apply for the designation after you have completed the sale.

Is it More Expensive to Insure a Heritage Home?

Experts claim that it is not, strictly speaking, more expensive to insure a heritage home. However, most heritage homes come with special risks that do directly impact the kind of insurance you have to carry. That may mean shopping around for a home insurance policy that's affordable and comprehensive, given your property's unique needs.

How Your Home Insurance Might Be Different

Several factors affect the cost of insurance for heritage homes. The first is age. The fixtures, insulation, HVAC and plumbing may all require upgrades or regular maintenance. The windows, roof, wiring and exterior may be in need of repair. Of course, this is the case for any old home. Some insurers may not cover a home that's too old just because the risk of peril is too great.

Even if your heritage property is up-to-date and maintained well, it is harder to repair in case of fire or other damage. You typically must repair damage using specific materials and require government approval before going ahead. That means not only finding the right supplies to rebuild, but skilled contractors who can do the job right. That increases potential replacement cost. If any renovation project requires removal of toxic material such as asbestos, your insurance coverage has to take that into account as well.

In short, heritage homes require bigger coverage because repairing them is a bigger job. Even if homeowners only have to worry about maintaining the heritage look of the exterior, this still means finding the right materials. The approvals process through government, whether local, provincial or federal, might also take several months and extend the length of the job. In addition, the home's unique characteristics -- what may make it a heritage home in the first place -- might be expensive to replicate after a loss.

What Insurers Won't Offer

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, companies may not sell guaranteed replacement cost coverage for heritage homes. The final cost to rebuild after damage may just be too hard to predict. As a homeowner, therefore, it is important to get sufficient replacement cost coverage, so you are best protected if the time comes. This may mean higher premiums, but result in paying less out-of-pocket if you need to protect your personal asset and the community's heritage.

Check Out Your Options for Insurance

It's exciting to home a piece of history. You need not be intimidated by the task of finding the right insurance. Kanetix.ca has all you need to know. Find the best rates and the best policies for your property.