Advice and Support

Insurance for listed buildings: General guidance

Key information about cover for listed buildings.

1 Overview

This guide contains general guidance for owners and others on the relationship between listing and insurance.

Owners and tenants of listed buildings must consider whether they should take legal and other specialist advice on the insurance implications of loss or damage to their property. 

2 Cover for listed buildings

Every owner of a listed building must decide what is appropriate to cover possible risks and to protect the value of their asset.

The age and character of a listed building may mean that repairs and insurance premiums are more expensive than for an equivalent modern building. However, these costs will be very similar to those for a traditional unlisted building.

Listing also introduces the potential need for listed building consent. Many insurers will adjust premiums to reflect this process, which may call for specialist skills. An up-to-date building valuation will help potential insurers to assess the risk more accurately. 

Keeping risks and premiums down 

To keep risks and premiums down: 

  • secure your property to reduce the likelihood and scale of loss 
  • devise loss prevention programmes with your insurer and advisers 

Particular threats to consider are: 

  • fire 
  • water damage 
  • vacancy 
  • break-in

Periods of repair or alteration call for careful management as they can expose a property to risks. 

Owners of listed buildings should: 

  • seek a range of quotes from insurance companies, as when insuring any property 
  • regularly review the chosen premium 

Mortgage or loan conditions may apply. An up-to-date building valuation with rebuild costs will help potential insurers to tailor a policy to the individual building. 

Find out more about fire risks and preventative measures in our INFORM Guide. 

Download Fire Safety: Creating an Awareness of the Fire Threat [PDF, 690KB]

3 Reinstatement obligations

The planning authority will decide what can be saved or rebuilt in the event of damage to a listed building.

Catastrophic loss of a listed building

An owner of a listed building isn’t required to rebuild a property following its total destruction.

Listing exists to protect the special architectural or historic interest of a building – something that’s unlikely to be found in a replica of the original.

Partial damage to a listed building

Some buildings that have been partially damaged have gone on to be restored, but listed building legislation doesn’t generally require this. Some examples of restored buildings are:

  • Ca d’Oro, Glasgow
  • Cullen House, Moray
  • Morgan Academy, Dundee
  • Glasgow University Chemistry Building, Glasgow

Restoration might be the course chosen by the owner and their insurance company in exceptional cases, but this is very unusual.

A planning authority may require the exact reinstatement of at least the exterior where the building was an integral part of an important architectural group such as a terrace.

Partial loss is much more common and open to interpretation. Each case should be considered carefully on its own merits.

Example 1: The loss of a single door that forms part of the character of a listed building is likely to require replication. An insurance policy offering like-for-like replacement would cover such an event.

Example 2: Fire or flood may almost entirely destroy a building’s interior but leave the shell largely intact. Repair of the external walls and reinstatement of the roof to how they looked previously may be required. But the owner may be permitted to rebuild the interior in a different manner.

4 Owner responsibilities

Listing doesn’t require an owner to maintain their building. But a planning authority may take action against an owner who allows a listed building to fall into serious disrepair.

Owners are responsible for:

  • the repair and maintenance of the listed property
  • public liability insurance, as with any other (unlisted) building

Listing doesn’t alter these responsibilities, but it does give you access to conservation advice and expertise from Historic Environment Scotland and your planning authority.

5 How to source insurance

Owners of complex buildings are strongly advised to obtain advice from specialist insurance brokers.

These bodies may also be able to provide advice:

Association of British Insurers (ABI)
Telephone: 020 7600 3333

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Telephone: 0800 111 6768 / 0300 500 8082

Historic Houses Association (HHA)
Telephone: 020 7259 5688

Listed Property Owners’ Club (LPOC)
Telephone: 01795 844 939

Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)
Telephone: 0131 229 7545

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
Telephone: 0247 686 8555