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What is non-standard home insurance?

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Although it isn’t a legal requirement to take out non-standard home insurance, without it you may find you haven’t got adequate cover when you need to make a claim. 

Homes with non-standard construction features, such as a timber frame or flat roof, have different insurance needs from the average property. For example, they can be more expensive to repair due to the materials and techniques involved.

Your home doesn’t have to be built from different materials for you to consider specialist cover, however. If it has other unique attributes that make it high risk, such as being a listed building or being in danger of flooding, you may want to look into non-standard home insurance. 

Below, we take a look at when you should consider this kind of cover and how you can get the best home insurance quote for your specialist requirements.

When should you get non-standard home insurance?

There are several situations in which your home may be classed as a non-standard property. In these cases, you might want to consider non-standard home insurance, rather than a regular policy, to make sure you’re properly covered. This approach is recommended if your home is:

  • A listed building: whether Grade I, II or III, if your home is a listed building, it’s a good idea to take out a specialist home insurance policy, as it will include extra regulations around renovation and the things that need to be done if damaged
  • At risk of flooding: the effects of climate change are increasing the risk of flooding. If your home is in a high-risk area, you may need to seek out specialist flood-risk home insurance
  • At risk of subsidence: if the ground underneath your home is sinking and destabilising your building, normal home insurance likely won’t do, so you should look into subsidence home insurance
  • Of high value: the more your home costs, the more likely it is that you’ll need a non-standard home insurance policy that can provide the cover you need. For example, if your home is worth more than £1.5 million and you need contents cover in excess of £150,000, you may require specialist insurance
  • A second home: if you use your property as a second home, rather than your permanent residence, you’ll need to take out second home insurance 
  • A holiday home: if you have a property you only use for holidays, you’ll need to take out specialist holiday home insurance
  • Unoccupied long-term: even if you don’t class your property as a second or holiday home, if it’s empty for longer than 60 days, such as if it’s under probate, you’ll need specialist unoccupied home insurance
  • Used for Airbnb: if you use your property for Airbnb, you’ll likely need to look into a non-standard home insurance policy
  • Under construction: if your home is in the process of being built, you’ll need non-standard buildings insurance due to the heightened risk of you making a claim
  • Being renovated: to ensure you’re properly covered in the event you need to make a claim, you should consider specific home renovation insurance before undertaking a project
  • Of non-standard construction: certain types of home construction, such as timber or steel-framed buildings, will need non-standard home insurance

Similarly, you may want to consider non-standard home insurance depending on your personal circumstances, such as if:

  • You have criminal convictions: if you have an unspent criminal conviction (eg if you’re in the rehabilitation process for a conviction), you may find it hard to get standard home insurance
  • You’ve experienced bankruptcy: if you have a history of bankruptcy, you may need to take out non-standard home insurance to get the right cover
  • You’ve previously been refused insurance: if you’ve been refused insurance in the past or had a policy cancelled, you may need to seek out non-standard cover

You might want to consider specialist contents insurance for other circumstances, such as if you have a high-value collection of memorabilia or other items.

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It’s not just the circumstances around your home that may require non-standard cover. Certain building features can necessitate non-standard construction insurance:

 

  • Timber or steel frame: if your home was built around a timber or steel frame, you’ll likely need non-standard home insurance
  • Thatched roof: if your home is old and you have a thatched roof, you should consider non-standard cover, as the roof will require specialist maintenance 
  • Flat roof: if your roof is flat, there’s a greater risk of wet weather damage
  • Corrugated iron roof: a corrugated iron roof may warrant specialist home insurance 
  • Shingle roof: if your home has a shingle roof, rather than tiles, non-standard cover may be necessary
  • Precast or in-situ concrete homes: if, instead of brick, your home is made of precast or in-situ concrete, you may need specialist insurance, as concrete is prone to defects and may lead to structural issues 
  • Prefabricated or modular construction: if your home is constructed out of prefabricated parts or has a modular design that does not use bricks and mortar, you’ll need to consider non-standard insurance 
  • Barn or other unique conversions: if you’ve converted a barn or another unique building such as a windmill, you’ll likely need non-standard home insurance, as your needs will be different to that of a “normal” home
  • Eco-friendly materials: eco-friendly materials fall outside of the brick, mortar and tile definition of standard construction types, so you may need specialist cover
  • Alternative construction materials: this includes materials such as cob, wattle and daub, flint, grass and peat turf walls and certain types of cladding

Non-standard home insurance coverage types

Whether you have standard or non-standard home insurance, the policies tend to fall into the same two categories:

  • Buildings insurance: with buildings insurance, you’ll be covered for any damage to the structure of your home and any permanent fixtures and fittings, such as fitted kitchens and bathrooms
  • Contents insurance: when you take out contents insurance, you’ll be covered for theft of, or damage to, the items inside your home, including any jewellery, electronics, and clothes

It’s possible to get combined buildings and contents insurance. This means having one policy with one provider, potentially making it easier to make a claim. By including your home insurance, you may receive a discount on your premium.

Is non-standard home insurance expensive?

Non-standard home insurance is likely going to cost more than standard cover. But how much it actually costs will vary greatly depending on the type of specialist cover. The more unique your home, the more expensive your cover will be. This is because any claim you make will likely be above the national average. 

Other factors that influence the cost of your home insurance, non-standard or otherwise, include:

  • Your personal profile: if you need to spend a lot of time away from home or have children, you’ll likely find the cost of your home insurance increases
  • Location: if your home is in an area with a higher crime rate, your policy will be more expensive. Similarly, your location will be indicative of flood risks, subsidence and other risks 
  • Property age: an older property can cost more to repair, pushing up the price of your policy
  • Size: the bigger your property, the more it’ll cost to insure
  • Property value: the more your property costs, the more expensive it’ll be to insure, as any claims you make will cost the provider more money 
  • Contents value: the more valuable your possessions, the more they’ll cost to replace, increasing your premium
  • Security features: if you install security features, such as cameras and burglar alarms, you can reduce the cost of your cover
  • Level of cover: the more you want covered by your home insurance, the more it’s going to cost
  • Previous claims: if you’ve made a claim in the past, it may be more expensive to take out home insurance 
  • Optional extras: the more add-ons you include – such as accidental damage cover, family legal protection and home emergency cover – the more your policy will cost
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When taking out non-standard home insurance, you’ll need to tell your provider:

 

  • What construction materials your home includes
  • How old your property is and whether it’s listed
  • Any other unusual features that may not be covered under standard home insurance

 

You should be able to find this information on the deeds of the property. You’ll also need to make sure you have the correct documentation for the specialist elements of your home, such as certificates for the treatment of your thatched roof.

Find the best quote for non-standard home insurance

To get the best and cheapest home insurance quote, you should consider:

  • Shopping around: comparing a wide range of quotes, whether using a price comparison website or speaking directly with providers, is always a good idea when looking for home insurance
  • Combining buildings and contents insurance: it can be cheaper and easier to combine your buildings and contents insurance instead of taking out separate policies
  • Increasing your voluntary excess: the higher your voluntary excess, the cheaper your premium. However, you should only commit to a voluntary excess you can realistically afford, alongside any compulsory excess, in the event of a claim
  • Paying annually: if you pay for your home insurance in monthly instalments, you’ll often end up paying interest on top. That’s why it’s generally cheaper to pay upfront
  • Limiting your add-ons: the more optional extras you include, the more expensive your policy will be, so think carefully about what add-ons you really need
  • Improving home security: by installing home security systems, such as cameras and burglar alarms, you can make your home safer while reducing your premium

Are there non-standard home insurance specialists?

There are a number of providers and brokers that deal with specialist non-standard home insurance, including:

  • John Lewis Finance
  • Howden Insurance
  • Towergate Insurance
  • Endsleigh Insurance
  • Homeprotect
  • NFU Mutual

Non-standard home insurance FAQs

The rebuild cost of your home is how much money it would take to completely rebuild your property if it were destroyed beyond repair. It’s an important figure when taking out non-standard home insurance, as it will signify the correct level of cover you need to take out. This can prevent you from over- or under-insuring your home.

Non-standard homes are usually more expensive to insure for two reasons. Either they’ll have a higher likelihood of a claim being made (for example, if your home is in a flood-risk area) or a higher risk of that claim being expensive (for example, if your home is a listed building).

A brick veneer is a single layer of brick covering an exterior wall of your property. The rest of the property will then be built from a different material, such as timber or steel. 

There are a few ways you can assess whether your house has been built using brick or whether it just has a brick veneer facade:

  • Check your property documentation: you may have documentation, such as the survey conducted when you bought the house, that will detail its materials
  • Check the age of your house: if the house was built before the 1950s, it likely has solid brick walls
  • Check the depth of your windowsills: windows in a solid brick house will be set deeper than in a house with a brick veneer
  • Look for header rows: if the exterior of your house has rows of bricks where only the short ends are visible (called the header row), your property is likely solid brick
  • Search for “weep holes”: if there are small, finger-sized holes every 32 inches, you likely have a brick veneer. These holes are there to let out moisture

Connor Campbell

Finance Writer

Connor Campbell is an experienced personal and business finance writer who has been producing online content for almost a decade. 

Connor is the personal finance expert for Independent Advisor, guiding readers through everything they need to know about car insurance and home insurance. From how much it costs to the best insurance providers in the UK, he’s here to help you find the right policy for your needs. 

In his capacity as writer and spokesperson at NerdWallet, Connor explored a number of topics close to his heart, such as the impact of our increasingly cashless society, and the hardships and heroics of British entrepreneurs. His commentary was featured in sites such as The Mirror, the Daily Express and Business Insider

At financial trading firm Spreadex, meanwhile, his market commentary was featured in outlets such as The Guardian, BBC, Reuters and the Evening Standard

Connor is a voracious reader with an MA in English, and is dedicated to making life’s financial decisions a little bit easier by doing away with jargon and needless complexity.

Molly Dyson

Editor

After growing up with a passion for writing, Molly studied journalism and creative writing at university in her home country of the United States.

She has written for a variety of print and online publications, from small town newspapers to international magazines. Most of her 10-year career since relocating to the UK has been spent in business journalism, writing and editing for admin professionals at PA Life magazine and business travel managers at Business Travel News Europe and representing those titles at conferences around the world.

Now an Editor at the Independent Advisor, Molly is an expert in a broad range of consumer topics, that include solar panels and renewables, home improvements and home insurance, and consumer technology such as home security and VPNs.

In her free time, Molly can usually be found exploring the outdoors with her husband and their young son or gardening.