Insuring Your Heritage Designated Home

Posted April 7, 2021

The CRA received the following email from Wallace Immen, Chair of the Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation District Advisory Committee (CHCD): 

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Hello All, 

Insurance is becoming an issue as insurers seem to be worrying about the liability of a heritage designation. The Globe and Mail will be doing a story about  insurance being denied on the basis of heritage designation in Cabbagetown.

Here’s what we’ve been able to find out. You might want to post this on your websites/ blogs:

 

Insuring Homes in a Heritage Conservation District

The Cabbagetown Heritage Conservation District Advisory Committee has been hearing from home owners in the HCD that they have recently had difficulty renewing their replacement-value home insurance policies and some have faced delays or higher rates in obtaining insurance coverage from another insurer. The insurance brokers clam the issue is the heritage designation.

We have been in touch with the city and Heritage Preservation Services, which says the issue is a misunderstanding by insurance agencies of the rules of heritage preservation. Heritage buildings should not face higher premiums because of designation.

Kristen Flood of HPS  explains:

“We have had instances where insurers believe that properties located within HCDs must be reconstructed in their original form if they are subject to fire or substantial demolition; this misconception may result in higher premiums or increased replacement value estimates. This is not correct, however; reconstruction of the original house is not required under the Cabbagetown HCD Plans. New houses may be built of contemporary materials and to a contemporary design that is sympathetic and compatible with the character of the neighbourhood.

Here is a link to an info-sheet prepared by the province regarding insurance and heritage properties.”

 

Some of The Significant Items on This Info Sheet:

Will heritage designation make my property insurance premiums go up?

Your premiums should not go up as a result of a heritage designation. A variety of other reasons cause insurance companies to increase premiums for older buildings if there is a higher level of risk, such as services (out-dated wiring, old heating systems, etc.). In fact, some companies do not insure buildings over a certain age. Designation itself, however, does not place additional requirements on the insurer and therefore should not affect your premiums.

What happens if a building is destroyed by fire, or some other accident? Would it have to be rebuilt as it was?

The intent of designation is to preserve the historic, physical, contextual or other community heritage value of a property. If a building on a heritage property is completely or partially destroyed, the designation by-law does not oblige the owner to replicate any lost heritage attributes. A replacement building, for example, can be of a different design.

What if I want the original features of my property to be replicated in case of damage?

if this is what you want, make sure you’re properly covered. Insurance coverage for this depends on the degree of risk you and your insurance company are prepared to share. The age, quality and condition of your building will affect what coverage is available and the premium charged. “Replacement cost” coverage requires prior insurance appraisal of the building. It generally provides for the property to be repaired or replaced with like kind and quality up to the amount stated in the policy.

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