OT : - insuring old houses.... (long)

My auntie lives in an old farmhouse.
Being abt 200years old there are certain "features" associated with settlem ent/ subsidence (gasp) that for at least the last 50 years have been "stabl e" and are no worse than then.
e.g. a couple of stone window cills are no longer horizontal but "drop" lef t to right by say 2" over their 3ft 6" width.
being an old building the (old soft) brickwork has accomodated these events and as your gaze travels up above these windows there are increasingly min or deflections in courses for say 8ft until all is straight and true again and the coursing is fine after. There are no cracks through bricks or crack s at all visible. Pointing is 95+% intact allover - last done early 1980s.
e.g.2. There is a curious 2" "belly" on a large gable end, where a slightly later rear addition is butted to the original building & projects by 2" ou t from the original building's side wall - when intuitively you would have thought it should be flush. It is however perfectly in line at the top and the bottom of the vertical joint where old and newer 1/2s meet. and only wh en sighting down the wall from one end of the gable is it obvious what is g oing on. this too is unchanged for at least 50 years.
Cue insurance broker & company who appear to be using a "subsidence scare s cam" to extort increasingly large premiums from my aunt as a long while ago , being honest, she had a surveyor round to look at these a while back to s et her mind at ease. She subsequently sent a copy of the report to the insu rers to satisfy them that all was OK - his report used phrases like "old mo vement" not "subsidence" and he was of the (verbal) opinion the building wa s "old but sound" but recommended to add some simple metal corner "straps" to the interior corner where the 2" "belly" is evident - this was done at t he time.
Since then every year the broker claims they are unable to switch companies as no-one else will cover her and she has to pay whatever they ask or she won;t have any cover....
If I put the house details (except cracks/subsidence/movement detail) into insurance websites I get quotes of £250 - 350, less than 1/2 what she is being told to pay...
What do we do about this? Is the broker right? trying it on? Anyone any sim ilar experiences?
TIA
Jim K
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Jim K put finger to keyboard:

Have you tried NFU? They have a good reputation, and if anyone's got experience of insuring farmhouses it should be them.
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wrote:

+1 for NFU Mutual.
None of the mass market ones would quote for our very old, very non standard house in the sticks (no foundations to speak of, rubble stone walls etc). NFU gave a reasonable quote without blinking, and are still a fairly good price.
I guess they take the attitude that if it hasn't fallen down in a couple of hundred years, it's not likely to now! Whereas all the others take fright if it doesn't fit into their definition of a normal house.
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On 30/07/2013 14:19, Jim K wrote:

I would use one of the comparison web sites. Just make sure that you enter details correctly, and make sure that you explain the situation to any insurer that you find.
You could also discuss the results with the current broker.
www.vasek.co.uk is a specialist company that your could try.
--
Michael Chare

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On Tuesday, July 30, 2013 3:03:10 PM UTC+1, Michael Chare wrote:

mmm tried that - usually the "vast array" of insurers decline to quote, any that don't ask for copies of the survey report & then decline to quote or quote even more OTT...
how long does something have to stay stable before it can be thought of as OK? house is 200years old, defects known for 50years+, 1980s pointing still 95% intact, no cracking, no apparent movement in last 50years.... er what are we missing?

thanks - filled in their detailed online form which appeared to go tits-up at the last hurdle ... will ring them I spose.
Jim K
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On 30/07/2013 17:18, Jim K wrote:

I did use them - for a different problem. I found them after two brokers that I contacted both quoted Vasek policies. Dealing with them directly was easier.
--
Michael Chare

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On Tue, 30 Jul 2013 06:19:37 -0700 (PDT)

snip

My old thatched house is insured through S-Tech, of Cambridge. They have been very good over the years, switching company when it was worth doing so. I can recommend them. No connections, etc etc.
--
Davey.


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My auntie lives in an old farmhouse.
Being abt 200years old there are certain "features" associated with settlement/ subsidence (gasp) that for at least the last 50 years have been "stable" and are no worse than then.
e.g. a couple of stone window cills are no longer horizontal but "drop" left to right by say 2" over their 3ft 6" width.
being an old building the (old soft) brickwork has accomodated these events and as your gaze travels up above these windows there are increasingly minor deflections in courses for say 8ft until all is straight and true again and the coursing is fine after. There are no cracks through bricks or cracks at all visible. Pointing is 95+% intact allover - last done early 1980s.
e.g.2. There is a curious 2" "belly" on a large gable end, where a slightly later rear addition is butted to the original building & projects by 2" out from the original building's side wall - when intuitively you would have thought it should be flush. It is however perfectly in line at the top and the bottom of the vertical joint where old and newer 1/2s meet. and only when sighting down the wall from one end of the gable is it obvious what is going on. this too is unchanged for at least 50 years.
Cue insurance broker & company who appear to be using a "subsidence scare scam" to extort increasingly large premiums from my aunt as a long while ago, being honest, she had a surveyor round to look at these a while back to set her mind at ease. She subsequently sent a copy of the report to the insurers to satisfy them that all was OK - his report used phrases like "old movement" not "subsidence" and he was of the (verbal) opinion the building was "old but sound" but recommended to add some simple metal corner "straps" to the interior corner where the 2" "belly" is evident - this was done at the time.
Since then every year the broker claims they are unable to switch companies as no-one else will cover her and she has to pay whatever they ask or she won;t have any cover....
If I put the house details (except cracks/subsidence/movement detail) into insurance websites I get quotes of 250 - 350, less than 1/2 what she is being told to pay...
What do we do about this? Is the broker right? trying it on? Anyone any similar experiences?
They are just thieving bastards looking for any excuse to hike the price, they are not your friends. All you can do is to shop around. You might get cheaper insurance if you get it as a package in with other insurance/finance.
Or if you accept a higher voluntary excess. They often don't mention excesses when they quote, they just want to take the cash off of you.
You might also see an insurance broker who may know a specialist.
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tell your broker about the cheaper price and see if he will match it. If he doesn't take your business elsewhere.
--
From KT24

Using a RISC OS computer running v5.18
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On Wednesday, July 31, 2013 8:38:56 AM UTC+1, charles wrote:

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sounds simple doesn't it? have you read the thread?
Jim K
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[Default] On Tue, 30 Jul 2013 06:19:37 -0700 (PDT), a certain
wrote:

Many years ago, I lived in a Victorian terraced house, with some minor and historical cracking to the walls. Knowing that it wasn't a problem, but wanting something I could show to a potential buyer to prove it, I contacted my insurance company. They duly sent a surveyor who attached tell-tales, and monitored them over about 6 months. After the results were in, their conclusions were that there was no evidence of ongoing movement, and that any repair was within the policy excess.
A year or so later, I was selling the house, and the buyers were keen, but they couldn't get insurance with their chosen company as, "we don't insure properties with a history of subsidence".
--
Hugo Nebula
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[Default] On Tue, 30 Jul 2013 06:19:37 -0700 (PDT), a certain
wrote:

The belly in the gable is common, and (as the surveyor's report bears out) is caused by the lack of lateral restraint and not caused by ground movement (subsidence/settlement), so wouldn't need to be declared in response to that particular question.
Your aunt has to read the questions asked very carefully, and only answer the questions asked, not volunteer information. For example, if they ask, "is the building free from subsidence..., and also free from past or present _subsidence_ monitoring..." (wording snipped from my policy, and my emphasis), then if the engineer's report doesn't say, "subsidence", she can honestly answer, "yes". The old joke is, if you ask a lawyer, "do you know what time it is?", his answer is, "Yes.".
Is it possible for a decent broker to get a policy that has a larger than normal excess for subsidence, or even omit this from the policy?
--
Hugo Nebula
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