The UK’s leading insurer of Grade I listed buildings, Ecclesiastical, has launched the first buildings index specifically designed to track the costs associated with the reconstruction and repair of Britain’s traditional properties.
The specialist insurer, which insures 10 of the UK’s World Heritage sites, has created the new index to reduce the risk of underinsurance for owners of traditional properties (typically properties built before 1920 using traditional methods) throughout the term of their insurance policy.
The Building Cost Information Service (BCIS), which is responsible for the General Building Cost Index (GBCI) and the House Rebuilding Cost Index (HRCI), used by most insurers to track changes to material and labour costs, has been working alongside Ecclesiastical’s specialist valuation team to create the Ecclesiastical Heritage Index (EHI).
The index tracks 61 different elements, including skilled trades such as specialist roofers, stonemasons and lead workers and materials such as lime plaster, oak and dressed stone, which better reflect the traditional materials and skills involved in reinstating and restoring traditional buildings. The GBCI and HRCI predominantly take in to account modern materials and methods of construction, many of which are not as relevant to traditionally constructed properties.
Faith Parish, heritage director at Ecclesiastical, said: “As a specialist insurer, we have developed a great deal of knowledge and expertise regarding the construction of this type of property. There are two things that are really key to insuring more traditional properties. The first is an accurate rebuild valuation undertaken by a specialist surveyor who understands the construction of the building. The second is making sure that the sum insured remains as accurate as possible throughout the term of the insurance contract and in between valuations”.
“We know that when it comes to reinstatement, the materials and labour are very different from more modern buildings and so using an index linked to modern materials may not be appropriate, which is why we developed the EHI. The EHI tracks the most common materials and skills needed to reinstate more traditional properties, which means our customers can be more confident that they will have the right sum insured throughout the life of their policy with us.”
“In the past we have had to re-open a quarry to source the correct stone to rebuild a property or employ specialist restoration experts to work on some of the more intricate features, so you can see how not having the correct sum insured could really impact on the ability to reinstate the property.” Faith added.
In 2017 a study undertaken by research agency, Ecorys, on behalf of Historic England revealed that having the right insurance in place to cover the cost of repair and reinstatement was one of the most important responsibilities identified by listed property owners.
James Fiske, director of product delivery and operations for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors added: “The BCIS is the leading independent provider of cost and price information to the construction industry and produce the various indices used by the financial service industry.
“BCIS are delighted to have produced the EHI in collaboration with Ecclesiastical, using Ecclesiastical’s specialist knowledge of heritage properties.
“The new index tracks the cost of the appropriate and specific resources required to rebuild/repair a heritage property and should help to reduce the risk of underinsurance to Ecclesiastical’s clients.”