Thatched Property Insurance News

Thatched Property Insurance News
By Kate Goldstone In Thatch News Posted 8th October 2015 0 Comments

Here’s our first twice-monthly round up of news about thatched property insurance in particular and thatched homes in general.

Insurance Premium Tax went up in November 2015

Whether or not your home has a thatched roof, you can expect a hike in your home insurance renewal premium. But it has nothing to do with the insurance industry, or indeed us. It’s the government, who increased the rate of IPT from 6{fcb871d8a172bdb5e6d9fafd8c8457933956cb61c42680abaa1188974828c2e1} to 9.5{fcb871d8a172bdb5e6d9fafd8c8457933956cb61c42680abaa1188974828c2e1} from 1st November 2015.

Why is the tax charged in the first place? Feeling the insurance industry was ‘under-taxed’, the UK government introduced IPT to raise extra revenue. IPT was announced by Kenneth Clarke in November 1993’s budget then brought in via the 1994 Finance Act, falling under the remit of HM Revenue & Customs. As you can imagine, it raises a vast amount of cash for the government. In 2009/10 alone Insurance Premium Tax generated a whopping £2.3 billion.

On the downside it means your buildings and contents premiums have gone up by 3.5{fcb871d8a172bdb5e6d9fafd8c8457933956cb61c42680abaa1188974828c2e1} whoever your thatched home is insured with. On the bright side at least you’re not paying the 20{fcb871d8a172bdb5e6d9fafd8c8457933956cb61c42680abaa1188974828c2e1} IPT charged on some travel insurance, electrical appliances insurance and car insurance policies.

Wood burning stoves pose an extra winter risk to thatched houses

They’re incredibly fashionable right now. Everybody wants one. It’s the wood burning stove, and while they’re beautiful to look at and work a treat, they pose an extra risk to the owners of thatched homes. As reported by the BBC in mid-September 2015 wood burning stoves are much better at concentrating heat than open fires. This means there’s an extra risk of fire when superheated embers rise up the chimney and blow onto the roof. So how can you avoid wood burner fires in thatched roofs?

  • * It’s important to get your chimney swept regularly to prevent a build up of combustible dust
  • * Burn seasoned wood rather than ‘green’ woods
  • * Fit a flue thermometer
  • * Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter when lighting and stoking the stove
  • * Never leave your stove unattended
  • * Clean the stove itself regularly to prevent combustible build ups
  • * Fires in thatched properties are most often caused by the chimney, whether you have an open fire or a wood burning stove.

The thing is, the rise in wood stoves’ popularity means there are more fires, and the fire brigade is keen to raise awareness among novice stove users. The trend is so marked that scientists at the Fire Protection Association HQ in Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, have been busy investigating the causes of chimney fires in thatched roofs. The first stage of the research, examining the risks posed by sparks, is already complete. Interestingly the evidence seems to suggest most thatched roof fires happen just after a wood burning stove has been lit, a handy tip for the owners of thatched homes.

Hampshire Fire & Rescue says “check your chimneys”

Chimney Fire Safety Week took place in September 2015, an event promoted by the Chief Fire Officers Association and NFU Mutual in time for winter, when most thatch fires happen.

While fires in thatch are relatively rare, more than 90{fcb871d8a172bdb5e6d9fafd8c8457933956cb61c42680abaa1188974828c2e1} of them start because of a faulty flue or chimney. As Mark Abram from the CFOA said:

“There are around 7,000 chimney fires every year in the UK and most of these are entirely preventable. Having your chimney swept, burning the right wood and having the correct size appliance for your room are all important measures that could reduce the risk of it happening to you. While a chimney fire might sound like a minor incident, it can spread to other parts of the house and, in the case of a thatched property, for example, could result in your home being completely destroyed.”

According to an investigation by Burgoynes forensic into more than 100 recent thatch fires, the biggest cause of fire is embers ejected from the chimney. If your woodburner has a lined flue or a low chimney, your home is also at extra risk.

Thatch your car!

Lastly a bit of fun as reported by Metro. Meet Javier Vidal Montejo, a driver from Villahermosa in Mexico, who couldn’t afford the thousand pounds needed to fit aircon to his car.

Determined not to spend another Mexican summer sweltering in his oven of a vehicle, he gave the car an intricate thatched roof to keep the sun off. This isn’t his first time, either. Apparently his previous car also had a thatched roof, and he swears by the ‘technology’. Odder still, he isn’t alone. We found a surprising number of thatched cars via Google Images, proving it is neither a new idea nor a particularly revolutionary one!

Any questions about insurance for thatched buildings?

We’re always pleased to answer your questions. We will even do it in plain English, making the entire insurance thing easier to understand. Just get in touch.