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Property Insurance for Historic Structures

  • 1.  Property Insurance for Historic Structures

    Posted 01-04-2019 13:43
    I am curious if anyone else has been receiving calls recently that prospective new owners of structures that are designated as historic, either by inclusion within a National Register of Historic Places District or within a locally zoned historic district, are being told by insurance companies that they do not insure historic structures.

    In my 21 year career with historic preservation in my community, I have never encountered this issue but have received two calls in recent weeks from two different prospective owners who have relayed a similar experience.  Their initial point of contact was with different insurance companies, as well.  

    I would be very interested to hear if this is becoming a new national trend.

    Thank you

    Kathy McKenney

    Community Development Programs Manager

    City of Cumberland

    57 North Liberty Street

    Cumberland, MD 21502

    301-759-6431 (phone)

    301-759-6432 (fax)


  • 2.  RE: Property Insurance for Historic Structures

    National Trust Advisor
    Posted 01-05-2019 06:32
    Check out Specifically designed for insuring historic property.  A subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

    Curt Heidt
    Community Volunteer
    515 229 4948

  • 3.  RE: Property Insurance for Historic Structures

    Posted 01-05-2019 09:54
    I've heard the same sentiment.  I was a licensed insurance agent in my yesteryear but assumed folks didn't understand the type of policy they should be considering. For instance understanding the difference between Functional Replacement Cost, Replacement Cost, and Guaranteed Replacement Cost on the dwelling (Coverage A). My primary go to companies for historic houses used to be Chubb Insurance and Fireman's Fund and AIG for million dollar homes. I don't know today's underwriting guidelines standards.

    This question is timely. I plan to host an event with an insurance agent to help folks understand insurance for historic properties. I hope this is only a misunderstanding and NOT an underwriting trend.

    April Johnson Forum Member
    Executive Director
    Preservation Durham
    Durham, NC

  • 4.  RE: Property Insurance for Historic Structures

    Posted 01-05-2019 11:56
    Many of our older pre-regulations/flood map buildings were never designed or retro fitted to reduce natural hazards. Natural hazards, fire, wind, flood, are now increasing in frequency and intensity. This has required insurance carriers to increase rates on policy's to compensate for increasing risks. These different risks are separately handled. Wind, fire and flood insurance premium increases are going to change the pro-forma's/budgets for our building owners. Mitigation projects that reduce risks are a sure way to reduce rapidly rising insurance costs. They are an investment in the building, against hazards, but are also considered value stabilizing. Hazard mitigation projects create jobs in our communities and reduce risks. We are in a new era. Every dollar spent on natural hazard risk reduction is now credited with saving six dollars in disaster recovery costs.

    Roderick Scott CFM
    Flood Mitigation/Historic Building Specialist
    L & R Resources, LLC
    Mandeville, LA

  • 5.  RE: Property Insurance for Historic Structures

    Posted 01-05-2019 12:40

    I have gotten a few calls myself.  What I have done is gotten these people in touch with historic home property owners that I know to talk to them about insurance carriers that they use.


    Harry Klinkhamer

    Historical Resources Manager

    City of Venice



    Venice Museum & Archives

    City of Venice


    The value of history is, indeed, not scientific but moral:

    by liberalizing the mind, by deepening the sympathies,

    by fortifying the will, it enables us to control, not society,

    but ourselves - a much more important thing; it prepares

    us to live more humanely in the present and to meet rather

    than to foretell the future.

    -Carl Becker from Every Man His Own Historian


  • 6.  RE: Property Insurance for Historic Structures

    Posted 01-05-2019 13:09
    We've received one or two over the past 3-4 years, but none since Porterdale was on the GA Trust's 2018 Fall "Ramble"along 
    with Covington, Oxford and Newton county. 
    Bob Thomson
    City Manager
    Porterdale GA USA
    preservation the arts natural resources

    m: 912.308.2775
    o:  770.786.2217 ext 3240

  • 7.  RE: Property Insurance for Historic Structures

    Posted 01-05-2019 20:49
    We insured with Amica (Consumer Reports top-rated and they offer earthquake) and when they learned our house was a contributing member to the National Register Court Chemeketa Residential Historic District, they hired a company to conduct a survey to assure the replacement costs given the restrictions of the Salem ordinance were properly factored in.  I remember my insurance agent/adviser telling me that the worst situation to be in with an insurer is a partial loss situation, so you want to get everything vetted ahead of time.

    John L. Poole


  • 8.  RE: Property Insurance for Historic Structures

    Posted 01-07-2019 09:23
    Good Morning,

    This isn't a new issue! This is why NTHP created an insurance subsidiary over 15 years ago.  To assist historic property owners in navigating their insurance needs in order to make sure they are properly insured.

    What is happening is these homes are probably for sale and on a registry or a part of a historic district. Some insurance carriers like State Farm, Farmers, etc. are deciding that they don't want to write policies for older homes. With the spike in construction of new homes in the last decade these carriers can be picky about what they write. At the end of the day all of these carriers are trying to make a profit and unfortunately for historic homes and their owners, the standard carriers you see on TV are not interested In homes that are on a registry.

    There are carriers that will write these properties, they just are not the ones that everyone is familiar with. We have someone on our team dedicated to historic homeowners as we receive so many calls regarding this.  His name is Shannon O'Hare and his contact information is: or 443-529-0396.

    Joslyn Hayes
    Marketing Director
    National Trust Insurance Services, LLC.
    Baltimore MD

  • 9.  RE: Property Insurance for Historic Structures

    Posted 01-07-2019 09:39
    I am starting to hear that as well. I always tell them that listed properties should always be treated as any other for insurance purposes - that we do not require (nor should there be) replication riders in the policy nor requirements to use specific materials in repairs. Usually, the problem can be traced back to individual insurance agents who simply don't understand what the National Register is and, rather than learn about it, they try to avoid dealing with it by telling people they do not insure those properties.

    I always tell people to push back a bit - ask where in their policies it states the company will not as a rule insure National Register properties. I also tell them to call the state insurance division regarding refusals to underwrite listed properties.

    Laura Sadowsky

    State Historian and National Register Coordinator | 515.281.3989 |

    Iowa Arts Council | Produce Iowa | State Historical Society of Iowa

    Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

    Share your stories using #IowaCulture

  • 10.  RE: Property Insurance for Historic Structures

    Posted 01-07-2019 13:13
    I had a call about this recently, but it was specifically in reference to a property that had received HTC and was still within the recapture period.  I think insurers may have some confusion about the implications of NR designation.

    Elizabeth Rosin
    Rosin Preservation
    Kansas City MO