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Insurance for Thatched Homes: Thatch is Back!

[intro]Right up until the end of the late 1800’s thatch remained the only roofing material widely available to rural communities. As the use of slate and titles grew in popularity, so thatch gradually became a mark of poverty. In more recent history, thatch has become synonymous with increased fire risk and exorbitant insurance premiums and yet today, it is enjoying a very prosperous recovery.  [/intro]

Oh how times have changed…

Today thatched homes are sought after and regarded as something of a status symbol. There are many reasons for this, aside from their aesthetic chocolate box appeal and tendency to be located in idyllic beauty spots. A renewed interest in the preservation of historic buildings and the popularity of eco-friendly, renewable materials is largely responsible for something of a national thatch revival.

Increased fire risk
Many people are automatically weary of thatch due to its reputation for a greater perceived risk of fire. Although this risk is real, it has been found that many recent fires in thatched homes have actually been caused by the incorrect use, installation and maintenance of wood burners, chimneys and flues, rather than the thatch itself.

Also, rather than instantly combusting into a raging ball of flames, as many people imagine, thatch usually tends to burn quite slowly. Thatchers describe this as burning ‘like a closed book.’

Today thatching methods and training is better than ever and there are effective fire retardant applications available for thatched roofs, as well as modern thatching techniques, which in effect sacrifice the thatch in the event of a fire, minimising the risk to the home.

Insurance for thatched homes
To insurers with a knowledge of thatch and experience in this field, this is reflected in their policies, which are now far more competitive than they were in the 80’s and 90’s. It is recommendable to use a specialist insurer, but thatched homes are no longer the headache to insure that they once were.

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Why Thatch is the new black

We have always known that thatch is a terrific insulator; keeping your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. However, with the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates in the new Home Information Packs, many were concerned that thatch would not constitute as specific roof insulation. Interestingly, given the depth of the of thatch on a roof, most thatched houses out-perform minimum insulation standards.

Insulation and good looks are not the only benefits to using thatch as a building material, it is also:

  • Versatile – ideal for covering non-standard roofs
  • Sustainable
  • Eco-friendly
  • Carbon neutral
  • Impressive noise reducer

Nothing quite like it

“It really is a different experience. In no other type of building is your home defined by its roof. It’s living, breathing, romantic.”

These are the words of travel consultant Lucy Booth, speaking to the Telegraph and she is not alone. It seems there is more than just a practical aspect to thatch, many harbor a genuine love and enthusiasm to living beneath it.

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Not all roses
Ok, so there will always be the naysayers and draw backs to anything. There will always be an increased issue when the odd creepy crawly or pest (read mouse or squirrel) want to come inside, although this is a risk for any home in the county. Plus, thatch comes with a substantial maintenance undertaking. Many feel that this is well worth it for all the benefits it brings, plus it only goes to strength its position as a new status symbol in the housing market.

If you own a thatch home and are looking for a competitive quotation from an experienced and specialist insurer, contact our advisors at Highworth Insurance and we will tailor a policy to suit you and your property.