Protecting our heritage

Last year I ran the Bath Half Marathon.  It was a fantastic race – a great atmosphere, supportive crowds, live music along the route and of course Bath is such a beautiful city.

When I run a long distance, having some distraction helps to make the miles pass quicker. Listening to the beat of the music coupled with looking at the historic buildings certainly made the 13.2 miles disappear slightly quicker.

Bath is a city steeped in history.  It is the only city in the UK to have the whole city designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.  For the owners of these unique properties and the businesses that operate in them, this special accolade brings with it added complications when considering the insurance.

Calculating the sum insured for any heritage* or listed building requires special attention.  Reinstatement will pay for the rebuilding of the property on a like-for-like basis ie with a similar design and features.  Due to their very nature, heritage and listed buildings are often underinsured, as reinstating them is more involved than anticipated. The property may have been constructed using historical building methods and materials – handmade by specialist craftsmen – so the sum insured will need to take account of these factors.  It may be necessary to source a material from abroad and specialist labour costs could be much higher than those associated with the rebuilding of a modern property.  Owners of listed properties also have to adhere to strict guidelines and comply with planning regulations and planning consent.  Achieving this compliance adds to the rebuilding cost.

These factors mean that rebuilding a heritage or listed building can take a lot longer than the rebuilding of a standard building.  Not only therefore does the rebuilding sum insured need to be considered carefully but also the indemnity period under the business interruption or rent section requires close examination.  Planning problems, waiting for specialist materials and craftsmen all add to the time it can take to rebuild the property, which will increase the period of disruption and delay the return to normal operations.

It would therefore make sense to use an insurer who appreciates the historic qualities of these buildings and includes specific heritage clauses within their policies.  Such clauses consist, for example, of additional cover for meeting conditions under the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. They may also provide a complimentary professional valuation and bespoke, specialist risk management advice.  These insurers understand the complexities of a claim involving heritage and listed properties and will have the expertise to handle major losses.

If you own a heritage or listed property or operate a business from one, then it is important to recognise the need to adequately assess your sums insured and indemnity periods.  Choosing an insurer who can provide the correct cover and expert claims response is also crucial.

Please contact me on 01235 868535 or [email protected]. to discuss this specialist cover.


*Heritage refers to buildings or activities that have archaeological, historical, architectural, cultural, engineering or scientific significance. The heritage status of the building is fundamental to the business and so could also include buildings of modern or unusual design.

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