A Guide to Antique Home Insurance

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A Guide to Antique Home Insurance by Daigle & Travers, Darien, Connecticut (203) 655-6974- Mark Wilhelm 

Homeowners insurance is vital for any homeowner who wants to help protect their investment. However, some houses need more coverage than others, as may be the case with an older home. When it comes to your antique home, your homeowners insurance policy may be more complex due to the home’s unique characteristics, and it generally will be costlier than a newer home’s insurance policy.

Why does insuring an older home usually cost more?

Homes built prior to 1945 were simply built differently than today’s modern homes. Because most policies will usually offer to rebuild with “like kind and quality” materials, your policy will likely cost more than a typical homeowners policy. A specialty policy designed for antique homes would likely be even more expensive, because such a policy will usually  offer replacement and restoration coverage with historically accurate materials and construction methods. These policies are designed to ensure that your home maintains its historical integrity. That said, the materials and the craftsmen who install the materials cost more and due to these higher construction costs, your premiums will typically be costlier for your antique home.

What makes your home an antique or historic home?

When insuring antique or historic homes, the year your home was built is very significant. Homes built before 1945 are generally considered antique by insurers. Construction methods effectively modernized after 1945. So as far as homeowners insurance goes, the year built is the first indication of significance.

Any antique home built prior to 1945, which also meets one of these three characteristics, would likely be considered a “historic home”:

  • Homes with a connection to a historic event
    • Homes with a connection to a person of historic significance
    • Homes that utilized unique architecture or construction methods

You’ll find that homes built prior to 1900 are often more difficult to insure than newer homes. Most insurers usually have a threshold for the age of a home that they can accommodate. So not only may you find the insurance more expensive, but it may also be harder to find. However, carriers such as Berkley One, Chubb, PURE, AIG Private Client Group, Cincinnati and several others will usually insure your home with coverage suitable for an antique home.


A two-story brick home with black shutters

What should you look for in a policy?

Most homeowners assume when you buy a standard homeowners insurance policy, all your property will be replaced back to the way it was prior to the claimable loss. However, this is not necessarily the case when it comes to insuring an antique home with a standard (HO-3) policy.

If your antique home has wide-planked hard wood floors that get damaged, a standard policy may replace it with strip wood from the nearby lumberyard. If your plaster walls are damaged, the insurer may only be obligated to replace it with drywall. This may not be what you want when it comes to your antique or historic home. You may want to be certain that the historic features of your home are covered so they can be replaced with historically accurate materials.

For older homes, a replacement cost policy often makes more sense. A replacement cost policy is one that will give you all the money you need to repair or replace your entire antique home when it is damaged in a covered loss. When you insure your older home for its replacement cost, in the event of a covered loss, your insurer will compensate you for the cost of reconstructing or restoring your home to the exact way it was before it was destroyed, up to the policy limit (and subject to the policy’s terms, conditions, exclusions, and restrictions). When possible, request Guaranteed Dwelling Replacement Cost coverage.

Guaranteed Replacement Cost in Antique Home Insurance Coverage

“Guaranteed Replacement Cost” (GRC) is typically included automatically by the insurers suited best to insure an antique home. It can be added by endorsement to some homeowners policies, while many carriers will not offer it as an option at all.

By purchasing a policy with this valuable coverage, you effectively gain unlimited dwelling coverage (coverage to rebuild you back to the original specs of the home). As long as you accept the insurer’s initial inspection results, inform the insurer of any change to the home that would impact the estimated replacement cost, and accept the annual inflationary increases each year, your insurer will typically pay ANY amount to replace your home following a covered loss (subject to the policy’s terms, conditions, exclusions, and restrictions). This can be crucial for antique homes because often when such a home is being repaired, the cost of repair exceeds the insurance dwelling limit. Without it, you could fall short of the necessary funds to rebuild your home.

When Guaranteed Replacement (GRC) is not available, extended replacement coverage is usually the next best option. This policy endorsement will cover an additional 20%-50% of the insured value of the home. Knowing that it could cost you much more to restore your home, this option provides the peace of mind that, if needed, you will have an extra amount of coverage available when going through the remodeling stages following a covered loss.

Building Code Law & Ordinance Coverage

Building Code coverage can be important when an antique building has been damaged. This coverage protects you when you must update your home to the latest building codes following a loss. When rebuilding, you may have to rewire your house, hardwire smoke detectors, or move the home on the property to meet the current set back requirements to meet the most recent building codes. This policy will usually cover the extra covered costs you will face.

Most standard homeowners policies provide a small amount of building code coverage, however, the older the home the more likely the house is out of compliance with today’s building codes.

leather chairs sit in a study


How can you help lower your premium on your antique home?

  • Make updates to your older home (some insurers may make you make these updates before you get insured)
  • Modernize the wiring
  • Update the plumbing system
  • Get a new roof
  • Update your appliances
  • Install safety devices (smoke detectors, alarms, sprinklers, permanent electric generators, etc.)
  • Increasing your policy deductible may lower your premium.

Other Important Information about Antique or Historic Homes

  • Talk to an agent regarding whether your home qualifies for Historic Home Insurance.
  • Bring in experts to determine if you should update aspects of the home.
  • Know what you want replaced if your home is damaged.
  • Be prepared for higher premiums when purchasing an older home.
  • Contact a local insurance agent to help you determine what coverage meets your needs.

Get the Historic or Antique Insurance Coverage that your Home Needs

When insuring your antique home, you need appropriate coverage to help preserve the history that the home brings. When looking over your homeowner’s insurance policy, make sure you have adequate coverage in case of damage. 

Here at Daigle & Travers, we will provide you with the assistance you need when you are purchasing your homeowners insurance for your older house. When partnering with us, we will give you information and options you need to choose an insurance company and policy. We have local offices in Westport and Darien, CT. Give us a call today at (203)-655-6974.