When you compare home insurance prices, you’ll be asked how old your property is. But if you don’t know, how do you find out the answer? And why do insurers want to know in the first place? Find out here.
How risk works
Home insurance premiums, like any insurance premiums, are based on risk. The more risk you pose of making a claim and costing your insurer money, the more it will charge in premiums to cover that risk.
Insurers and their underwriters make an estimate of the risk you pose based on several factors. For example, a property in a flood risk area is more likely to be the subject of a claim for water damage than one outside a flood risk area.
Similarly, a century-old cottage is more likely to have structural, plumbing or electrical problems than a new-build property, partly because it’s been weathering for 100 years and partly because of the way it was constructed and the materials that were used.
But unless your property is a new-build, you might not know how old it is. This means you’ll need to find out before you can get a home insurance quote.
Finding the age of your property
There are several ways to find out the age of your property. Your first port of call should be any documentation you still have from when you purchased it. Specifically, if you have the title deeds or title register you received when you bought the property, the date it was built will be listed.
If you can’t find your title deeds, you can obtain new copies for £3 from the government website.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with your local authority and ask when planning permission was granted for your property.
Failing that, you could contact the company or person that sold you the property, since they would have filled out a TA6 property information form including the date your property was built.
One easy and quick way to find out the age of your property is to speak to your neighbours, since one of them may already know. Even if you don’t want to go knocking on doors unsolicited, many neighbourhoods have Facebook groups to discuss local events and issues.
Dating older properties
These methods may fare better for more modern properties than those that are much older - in which case you may need to do a bit of research and sleuthing to pin down the era in which your property was built.
For example, Victorian era properties often feature geometric tiling and sash windows, while Georgian era properties frequently have flat, symmetrical exteriors. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to find a date stone on your property telling you when it was completed.
Another option you could try is searching the 2,000 properties listed on the government’s website, or going through your local record office archives.
If none of these options offer an answer, here are some more ways of dating an older property:
See if your local library has maps, archives or parish records that feature your property
Check the census records between 1841 and 1911 on the National Archives website for the earliest mention of your address
Look for your property on historical maps using oldmapsonline.org
Seek advice from local historical societies or groups
Why it’s important to know the age of your property
When you buy a home insurance policy, you enter an agreement with the insurer which says they will agree to provide cover based on the information you provide about your property.
If you were to give an inaccurate age for your property and later needed to make a claim, an insurer could reasonably reject it on the basis that the information you provided was inaccurate or misleading. Therefore if you don’t know when your property was built, it’s best not to guess.
It’s important to note that some price comparison websites will automatically query sources such as Land Registry and Ordnance Survey to get the age of your property.
Some will tell you that they’ve done this and give you the opportunity to correct anything that looks wrong, while others won’t explicitly ask you how old your property is.
Finally, if you live in rented accommodation, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to buy buildings insurance. You can protect your belongings with home contents insurance, but you won’t be asked for the age of the property you live in.