Insuring your heritage home

5 minute read Published on Feb 23, 2021 by BrokerLink Communications

Insuring your heritage home

In Canada, there are many historic buildings, structures, districts, landscapes and archaeological sites. Many consider it a great honour to live in a home that has been formally recognized for its heritage value. As such, there are organizations and people who work together to protect these places.

Some heritage homeowners are falsely told they cannot insure their buildings. Although some insurers may refuse to cover heritage homes that are not up to code, home insurance is in fact available for these types of properties. However, insuring a heritage home takes a little extra care and consideration to account for the true value of the property as well as the unique construction and materials.

Here’s a guide on insuring your heritage home.

What defines a heritage property?

A historic or heritage property must be formally recognized by an appropriate authority within the province it’s located in. Designated heritage homes tend to have legal protection, so homeowners don’t always have the ability to make upgrades to their property without approval and the correct permit.

Heritage properties connect us to history and the past and there are many factors that determine whether a property is considered historic or not, including:

  • Age
  • Architectural design
  • Builder
  • Exterior condition
  • Construction methods
  • Contribution to its landscape or streetscape
  • Historical events
  • Cultural value
  • Who lived there

Owning a heritage property is an investment in Canada's history and community stewardship. To find out if your home meets the requirements, contact the municipal and/or provincial government for information on types of heritage designations and stewardship information.

Appraisers are tasked with determining whether or not a house should regarded as a heritage property, and most provinces have a website dedicated to historic properties. We encourage you to look into your provincial heritage home designation website, as this may help you learn a) how to identify whether you are living in one of these homes and b) how to get your home properly recognized if it meets the criteria.

How to insure your heritage home

Heritage homes are valuable investments in a community and the preservation of these buildings ensures they remain valuable for future generations to enjoy. Insuring it can help preserve your home to last longer. Here’s how to get started on insuring your heritage home:

  • Heritage insurance typically covers the same things that homeowners insurance covers.
  • Some insurance companies may provide an appraiser who has experience evaluating heritage properties. An appraiser will be able to give an accurate assessment of the true value of your home and potential future replacement/repair costs.
  • In order to get adequate coverage, you should have an in-depth discussion about the requirements and details with your insurance broker from the onset of the process. Without adequate coverage, you might find yourself facing the cost of meeting the heritage requirements of your home in the event of a loss.
  • Insurance companies recognize well-maintained properties with good claims records. Also, some insurance companies may require changes to be made to a property before they will issue coverage.

Tips for insuring a heritage property

Your broker will be able to work with an insurance company that understands the specific risks associated with a heritage home. You can reduce risk by taking steps to protect your property thus reducing the chance of having to make a claim.

Here are some things to consider when insuring your heritage home:

  • Keep accurate records and all necessary documents.
  • Record and photograph any renovation or upgrades so your insurer can accurately assess the replacement cost in the event of a loss.
  • Ensure adequate coverage to meet heritage regulations.
  • Before purchasing a heritage home, it’s important to be aware of costs associated with outdated heating, electrical, plumping and piping.
  • If you run a business out of your home, tell your broker to ensure you’re protected in this area as well.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada also provides some great advice on what else you should consider when buying a heritage property or if you are already living in one.

Consult with a professional insurance broker

Understanding insurance coverage can be complicated for anyone and handling a heritage home can be a little more complex. The good news is: you don't have to do it alone. Contact an experienced insurance broker from BrokerLink to help you navigate the right coverage that works within your budget.

To learn more, contact us today!

Insuring your heritage home FAQs

Is my heritage home required to be renovated in order for me to insure it?

Usually, the exterior appearance of heritage homes must be kept in tact. However, some internal aspects of your home may need to be updated to comply with the National Building Code of Canada and to obtain the proper insurance. Some safety threats of heritage homes include galvanized iron pipes, knob and tube wiring, and outdated furnaces and heating systems. Making these upgrades to your home will not only keep you safe, but will better help your insurance protect you in an unforeseen event.

Is it possible to get a third-party opinion on my heritage home appraisal?

While you can certainly get multiple opinions on your appraisal, it’s important to go to someone who is familiar with heritage properties and their uniqueness. Your insurance company may recommend trusted vendors that meet their standards, but you’re always entitled to do your own research or find someone on your own. Be sure to talk with your insurance broker about your options.

If I do not own the title to the heritage home, is it eligible for insurance?

If you are renting a heritage home, you are eligible for tenants insurance. We encourage you to speak with a licensed insurance broker to learn about your options and how you can stay protected from unforeseen events.