Insurers won’t insure my house unless it is rewired and replumbed

March 2014

Question

My house is more than 100 years old and most insurers will not cover it. Some of those who will, require it to have been rewired and re plumbed within the last 20 years.

Why does this not apply to all houses, if wiring and plumbing more than 20 years old is regarded as unsafe? What has the age of the house got to do with it?

Answer

Your question is very valid and highlights the discrepancies in the system. Insurance companies have become highly automated over the last few years and many of the questions are based on a box-ticking system. This is understandable for the insurance companies in that they have to break down the risks in to various categories. No doubt previous claim records will show that older properties are at a greater risk of insured perils arising.

Accordingly, the insurance companies appear to have taken a somewhat arbitrary age, which no doubt for convenience is 100 years and any properties older than this go into a certain category. When the property is in this category, there are then further sub-categories to be considered including the wiring and plumbing and roof coverings. There is clearly an anomaly here in that if you have a house that is less than 100 years old but has services and indeed roof coverings that are considerably older than 20 years, then the questions simply do not arise.

Once you get beyond this automated box-ticking approach, it should be relatively straight forward to get insurance cover at a reasonable level. However, you will most likely have to do this through an insurance broker who can contact the relevant personnel and build a simple case around the facts, for example, that the house has been looked after and modernised in recent times and that the risk of an insurance claim arising is actually much less than with maConstructionny other houses currently on their books.

Val O’Brien is a sits on the building surveying professional group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland