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Listed Buildings and Heritage Insurance

Historic Structures, Heritage and Listed Building Insurance

If a building is considered to be of special architectural or historic interest it will be included in a list of such buildings. The designation regime is set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (1) and the list is maintained by Historic England.

Heritage buildings are defined as buildings, artifacts, monuments, sites or activities with archaeological, historic, architectural, cultural, engineering or scientific significance.

Due to their nature, insuring listed, historic or heritage properties requires a specialist insurer and Rowlands & Hames work closely with a range of specialist heritage insurers, including Ecclesiastical Insurance, the main insurer of Grade I listed properties in England.

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There are some 400,000 listed buildings in England alone* (source Historic England), of which just 2.5% are Grade I listed. 5.8% are Grade II* listed, and the remaining over 90% are Grade II listed. All of course require appropriate insurance.

What types of buildings generally become listed? Nearly all structures built before 1700 became listed, plus most buildings erected between 1700 and 1840. Buildings built between 1840 and 1945 of definite quality were considered and buildings built post 1945 of exceptional importance have been added.

In Wales there are approximately 30,000 listed buildings which follow the same designations as England and can be viewed at Please note that Scotland has its own designation system, managed by Historic Environment Scotland and there are around 47,400 listed buildings in Scotland.

There are many trends influencing the heritage sector. The pandemic has hit culture hard, resulting in reduced revenue across the sector. Heritage crime, specifically theft of metals, but also of stone remain a concern.

If you own or are responsible for a heritage property, you have an important role in helping to protect our country’s heritage. But you may also have legal responsibilities regarding it’s repair and upkeep:

Fact: carrying out unauthorised work, even repair work, to a listed building is a criminal offence punishable by a fine or a prison sentence.

Fact: any building located within a conservation area may be subject to tighter planning restrictions and additional costs, such as special building materials – even if it is not listed.

Although many businesses rely on the heritage features of their properties to attract customers, many do not protect this aspect of their business or may not have considered its financial impact should they be unable to restore it in the event of a loss.

Without specialist knowledge, it is easy to underestimate or even overestimate your insurance needs. It is therefore essential to use specialist heritage insurance.

Insurances for listed buildings, historic structures and heritage properties

Insuring listed, historic or heritage properties requires a specialist insurer.

Rowlands & Hames Insurance Brokers arranges insurance for listed, historic and heritage properties with a range of specialist insurers conversant with the particular needs of owners / guardians of listed, historic or heritage buildings/sites.

In addition to the structural insurance we can accommodate insurance for loss of revenue, employers’ and public liability, as well as the usual range of cover required for any business being operated within.

Cover for irreplaceable art, antiques and contents can be included for their agreed or market value.

For full details of the potential cover available under an Ecclesiastical “Historic Britain” policy, please click the following button:

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Risk appetite

As well as the obvious – castles, forts, ancient monuments etc. – we can consider insurance for heritage hotels; shops; museums; visitor centres; historic houses; stately homes; country mansions; art galleries, restaurants; lighthouses; dockyards; windmills; piers; walls; theatres; libraries; concert halls; almshouses; tithe barns etc.

Visitor attractions (including caves and gorges, roman baths/villas etc); modern iconic buildings; converted factories, warehouses and docks, converted churches; interactive museums; model villages; and fine art collections, preservation trusts and societies can also be accommodated.


Listed, historic and heritage properties present their own challenges when it comes to the dealing with and settlement of claims.

Very often, repairs to listed, historic and heritage properties will involve the need to source specialist building firms and tradesman.

Repairs may need to be carried out using appropriate materials and specialist insurers have access to these companies.

Claims guidance is sympathetic to restoring your property to maintain the integrity of its historic or listed nature. Additional covers include archaeological costs covered under the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Acts 1990.

Case Study – Cholderton house

Cholderton House, a large privately-owned Grade II* listed manor house, was built in 1690 and has been the home of the Cornelius-Reid family, its current owners, for 35 years. In March 2012 a dramatic fire swept through all three floors and the roof. At the height of the fire 12 fire engines worked on the house; local roads closed for safety.

Find out how Ecclesiastical dealt with this incident by clicking on the property picture below:

Heritage & Listed Buildings Insurance


As the owner or guardian of a listed property, under-insurance can be a major headache when arranging insurance. Listed buildings must be repaired to the satisfaction of the appropriate external body and it is essential the sums insured are adequate otherwise the owner/body responsible may be held liable for any further funds required to complete the repair.

When it comes to adequacy of sums insured for listed buildings, historic structures and heritage properties, Rowlands & Hames are able to, in most cases, obtain the services of a specialist listed building surveyor to provide a free valuation. Often valuations can run into the thousands of pounds but certain specialist insurers will provide the service free.

A valuation provides adequate protection and peace of mind for clients, allowing a quicker and less contentious claims settlement and fewer issues with English Heritage or other bodies and any Trustees/Owners.

Special Offering – Ecclesiastical Heritage Index

Ecclesiastical have recently developed an exciting new index which should prove extremely useful at keeping sums insured up to date, though it is only available to their customers.

The Ecclesiastical Heritage Index tracks the cost of materials and labour associated specifically with buildings of a traditional construction reducing the risk of underinsurance.

For more information, please click on the following button:

Ecclesiastical Heritage Index – Tell Me More!

Remember… All forms of listed, historic and heritage buildings and structures accommodated.

Risk Management & Protecting Your Property

Heritage properties and fine art are at risk from malicious damage and theft. We recommend the following action to help reduce the risk of them happening to you.

Malicious Damage

There is nothing new about using art to promote a cause. In the last couple of hundred years objects as diverse as the Portland Vase and Velasquez’s ‘Rokeby Venus’ have been damaged in high profile attacks.

Within the last few years there have been three highly publicised incidents:

  • At Tate Modern to Rothko’s ‘Black on Maroon’
  • In Westminster Abbey to a portrait of the Queen
  • In the National Gallery to arguably it’s most well loved British picture, Constable’s ‘The Hay Wain’.


With an estimated £100 million worth of artwork stolen every year within the UK it is clear that this sector is faced with considerable risks from theft. Currently there has been a trend of ‘smash and grab’ thefts in the UK with Sudeley Castle, Blenheim Palace and more recently Arundel Castle all being targeted for high value items.

You should be alert to anyone acting suspiciously whilst visiting your premises, including members of the visiting public and casual workers.

Our recommendations

Identify the risk

All operators of heritage properties should assess the risks and introduce suitable levels of security to combat them. Each risk needs individual consideration incorporating elements of staffing/stewarding and physical and electronic security measures. It’s worth reviewing existing security arrangements to see if the introduction of additional controls could prevent you being targeted. Special attention should be paid to well-known works which may be targeted.

You shouldn’t overlook the fact that theft can also result in considerable damage to your buildings, as well as the loss of valuable art work.

Fire safety, fire risk assessments and arson defence

Prevent fires before they happen with help from our fire safety guidance.

Electrical inspections and safety

According to the London Fire Brigade, in the last nine-year period there has been a 900% increase in fires of an electrical origin.

Where employees may be present the law requires a system of inspection, testing and maintenance of electrical systems, including wiring, switchgear, any fixed machinery and portable electrical appliances should be in place to prevent danger.

The recommended maximum period between inspection and testing is defined in BS7671 with examples given in the table below. However the age, use and condition of a system should be taken into consideration and may mean testing is required more often.

Type of premisesMaximum period between inspections and testing
Churches, commercial, offices, shops, restaurants, hotels, residential, educational and village halls5 years
Industrial, public entertainment, leisure, theatre and agriculture3 years
Swimming pools1 year

For more information, please view a dedicated guidance document from Ecclesiastical by clicking on the following picture:

Exercise increased vigilance around the management of contractors

  • There should be clear signs directing contractors/visitors to a reception area
  • Other access points to the property should be locked or supervised
  • Proof of identity should be obtained from contractors who are unfamiliar to you.
  • Unless contractors are going to be supervised, identity badges should be issued on arrival and collected at departure
  • Details of contractors’ vehicles, and their arrival and departure times should be recorded.

Open days

It is not practical to screen every visitor to your property but you should review stewarding arrangements when open to the public, particularly areas where there is a high concentration of and/or potentially vulnerable artwork. Brief your staff on what to do if they see someone acting suspiciously.

Protecting works of art from damage and theft is never easy; a balance needs to be achieved between display and security.

It also pays to be alert to potential threats in the wider surrounding area e.g. influx of visitors perhaps attending a nearby event or unfamiliar vehicles in the locality. Experienced criminals often check out premises before taking action, so be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police.

Work with your Insurer Broker

Ecclesiastical offer unrivalled service with the heritage industry and Rowlands & Hames are proud to work alongside them in ensuring the most comprehensive insurance cover and risk management facilities are provided.

The following video highlights some of the excellent facilities and support offered by Ecclesiastical:

Rowlands & Hames would like to thank Ecclesiastical Insurance for the above risk management advice.

Additional Reading

For more information, please see the latest “Heritage Barometer (March 2020) ” publication from Ecclesiastical.

The report covers some of the key concerns in the heritage sector and gives some useful best practice examples of the different uses of technology – from risk management to visitor engagement.

Funding, increasing costs and maintenance are the top three concerns in the research, with a number of other themes highlighting the need for the industry to adapt.

Additional Insurance Requirements

Rowlands & Hames are able to provide a number of additional covers which may be of interest, such as:

Defence costs against allegations of wrongdoing against individual directors’ & officers’ (and other senior staff) known as ‘D&O’, against the legal entity itself known as Corporate Liability; and defence costs and compensation payments in relation to employment disputes known as Employment Practices Liability.

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Contact the Team

Mike Watkinson Dip CII | Account Manager
Mike Watkinson Dip CII


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