Clarke & Sampson Blog

Insuring Your Historic Home

Posted by Scott Jefferson

Oct 30, 2013 4:41:00 PM


Whether you live in a revolutionary war era farm home or an early 1930s federal style townhome, it's probably the charm, elegance, and history of the home that you fell in love with. Your home may also have a special place in your heart because, frankly, they just don't make homes like they used to.

In the event of a loss, how would you want your home to be restored? If a simple and cheap restoration is your preference, then a standard homeowners policy is right for you. However, if you prefer that your wood frame and plaster not be replaced with metal studs and wall board, you may want to consider insuring your home with a carrier that has the knowledge, policy forms, and resources to restore a historic home.


   Historic Home Insurance
                     Penshurst, 1830

Not all homeowners insurance policies are created equal

When placing two homeowners quotes side by side, they may appear to be identical. The quotes may offer the same dwelling limits, same coverages, same effective dates, but in reality the quality of homeowners policies and the carriers that back them vary substantially.

For example, imagine you are purchasing a camera. You may be considering two or three different makes. Each model offers 16 mega pixels, 30x zoom, and a lithium battery. These cameras are the same, right? Obviously not. One camera seems to have a slow reaction time, one camera feels fragile, and the other camera feels just right. The same concept applies to homeowners insurance, but unfortunately we don't have the option to sample insurance policies before we purchase one. Instead, we seek guidance from an agent. That is what we're here for - to help you make informed decisions regarding your historic property.

How does historic home coverage differ?

Unlike a standard homeowners policy, historic home insurance provides coverage on a guaranteed replacement basis. In the event of a covered loss, this allows you to rest assured knowing your home will be rebuilt regardless of depreciation, policy limits, or construction costs. It also means that the insurer will rebuild your home using historically accurate materials, construction, workmanship, details, and style.

Is my home historic?

Historic properties are loosely defined as 1940s or earlier. Historic homes also tend to have unique features such as hand milled floors, a presence of chestnut or other rare or extinct woods, ceiling medallions, decorative iron work, and other authentic features proudly displaying the age of the home.

How much does insurance for a historic home cost?

Based on our data collected in the Washington DC area, historic home insurance cost about 15% to 20% more than a standard policy. To counteract the price difference, many historic homeowners simply elect to take a higher deductible. Interestingly, in some cases historic home insurance may even be price competitive with a standard homeowners policy, especially if it's a home with a high replacement cost valuation.

What carriers provide insurance for historic homes?

Chubb and Firemans Fund are perhaps two of the most well known carriers that insure historic properties. Both carriers provide comprehensive services, detailed in-home appraisals, and offer the expertise necessary to insure a historic property. Another interesting fact is that both Firemans Fund and Chubb partner with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving America's historical properties.

Clarke & Sampson has been insuring historic properties in the DC Metro area since 1946. As a testament to the company's appreciation and expertise in historic property, Clarke & Sampson is headquartered in an Old Town Alexandria home that was originally constructed in 1818.


Free Historic Home Guide


Topics: Personal Insurance, Home Security, Historic Home