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What is thatched property insurance?

Thatched property insurance is a type of buildings insurance that caters for the unique risks involved in owning a home with a thatched roof.

Will I have to pay more for thatched roof insurance?

Thatched roof insurance can be more expensive due to the increased possibility of damage that having a thatched roof brings. It is still possible to find affordable cover, but expect to pay more. 

Buildings or contents insurance will be more expensive if insurers perceive your home to be at risk of damage or destruction. As a thatched roof is generally considered a bigger fire risk than a slate roof, insurers will charge more. 

Thatched roofed houses are generally more expensive to rebuild than more common slate roofed houses, too. This is because they have been constructed using specialist materials by skilled professionals. Many home insurance providers do not cover thatched homes because they can be so expensive to repair.

They're also more likely to be significantly damaged if they were to catch fire. You will likely still be able to get home insurance quotes from standard providers, but you might find that specialist providers offer better value and more comprehensive cover.

How is a thatched roof different?

Authentic thatched roofs are constructed from wholly natural materials using traditional building methods. Their construction is thought to date back a thousand years and consists of a unique shaping of heavy layers of vegetation, including straw and reeds.

Some of the oldest homes in the UK have thatched roofs, usually maintained by skilled thatchers, though many new homes also try to recreate this traditional style. The thatched roofs themselves are a durable and sustainable option, but they are more costly than standard concrete or slate tiles. A thatch can last for over 50 years when professionally constructed and effectively maintained.

Are thatched roofs dangerous?

Thatched roofs are skillfully constructed by trained thatchers, and modern techniques are making them increasingly safe and stable. Improved building rules and fire safety regulations are also contributing to reducing the number of thatched roof fires. A thatched roof is statistically no more likely to catch fire than a roof made of another material, but when a thatched roof does catch alight, the damage will be significant. Thatched roof fires advance at speed and can be difficult to extinguish.

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Reducing the cost of thatched roof insurance

Before you compare thatched roof insurance, you will need to know the cost of replacing your roof. Your thatched roof insurance is there to protect you from paying to repair your roof out of your own pocket, so you need to to know the cost of rebuilding it. An accurate valuation will make a big difference to your quotes.

You could also consider:

Having two or more fire extinguishers in your home, especially in your kitchen. This can reassure your insurer, while also protecting your home.

Cutting back any overhanging trees, as foliage has been known to dry out a thatch and increase the risk of fire.

Using a specialist chemical product to reduce the flammability of your thatch.

Line and sweep any live chimneys to reduce fire risk.

What information do you need to provide?

When you buy thatched roof insurance, you will need to provide certain information, including:

  • The type of roofing material used (e.g. water reed or combed wheat)

  • What fire security you have installed (e.g. smoke detectors)

  • What your walls are made of (e.g. brick, stone or wood)

  • The depth of the thatch (e.g. 12 inches)

  • Your chimney use (e.g. having an open fire)

You also need to provide your thatched cottage insurance provider with the rebuild value of your entire property. If you don’t have this information, you can get an estimated value by using the Association of British Insurers (ABI) rebuild calculator.

Thatched cottage insurance policy conditions

In order to keep your policy valid, your insurer may require you to maintain and protect your thatched roof in certain ways. This could include instructing you to:

  • Sweep your chimney at least annually to cut down the risk of chimney fires

  • Organise a certified electrical inspection report to eliminate potential electrical fires

  • Fit spark arrestors to stop sparks reaching your thatched roof from your chimney

  • Line and insulate your chimney to guard against damage

If you make a claim on your thatched house insurance when you have not been protecting and looking after the thatch, your insurer may not pay out. Check the terms and conditions carefully to find out exactly what you need to do.

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