Older and historic homes are typically more expensive to insure than newer homes. This is because older homes are viewed by homeowners insurance companies as higher risk than newer homes — they can be fragile, their construction materials may be obsolete, and certain structural components like the roof or plumbing may not be in good shape or up to current-day code.
Some homeowners insurance companies may even refuse to insure your home if it has an old roof or structural damage. But there are plenty of ways to make your older home more insurable and keep your insurance premiums down, which we’ll get into here.
Best homeowners insurance for older homes
Our team of licensed experts at Policygenius analyzed rates from insurance companies in all 50 states to choose the insurers that offer the most affordable home insurance policies for homes that are over 100 years old.
Keep in mind that just because an insurer may offer homeowners insurance in all 50 states, that doesn’t necessarily mean they offer coverage for older, higher risk homes in every state. The agents at Policygenius can help you compare policies and find an insurer that offers older home insurance where you live.
How much does insurance for an older home cost?
The average cost of homeowners insurance for a home that’s 100 years old is $1,956 per year — which is nearly $850 more expensive than the average cost of home insurance for a new home. But rates vary greatly depending on different factors — including your home's location, construction materials, and age.
Here’s the average home insurance rates for homes of different ages:
100-year-old home +
As seen in the table above, once your home hits 10 years and older, you start to see home insurance rates go up by several hundreds of dollars. However, there doesn’t seem to be much difference in cost between insuring a 30-year-old home versus a 75- or even 100-year-old home.
What factors affect the price of older homes?
Homeowners insurance is based on the replacement cost value of your home, meaning the amount it costs to rebuild your home from the ground up. The price of homeowners insurance depends on a variety of factors, some which affect older homes more than newer ones.
Rare or expensive construction materials. Older homes tend to contain obsolete building materials and ornate features that are specific to the time period in which it was built. Plaster walls, stuccoing, and custom architectural details are all common characteristics and stylings of pre-war homes and are more expensive and less flexible than modern structural materials like sheetrock, plywood, and drywall.
Cost of labor. The masonry work and labor intensive makeup of older builds require a contractor who is skilled in period architecture, and those contractors may charge a lot more for their services than a modern-home contractor.
Age of roof. If your roof is more than 15 or 20 years old, that could also impact your rates — your insurance company may even exclude the roof from coverage.
Why are older homes more expensive to insure than newer homes?
Generally speaking, the replacement cost of an older home is going to be higher than a home with a modern build. Since your insurance premiums are largely based on the home’s replacement value as opposed to its market value, the basic architectural styling of your older home could be the reason for its high insurance premiums.
Certain details of the home — like the age of its roof or ornate features — also impact your homeowners insurance rates. Homes with aluminum wiring, for example, are more likely to have accidental fires, and older polybutylene or galvanized piping is more likely to corrode and deteriorate faster than modern pipe like PVC.
What type of homeowners insurance should you get for older homes?
Depending on its age and architectural style, you may be able to cover your home with a standard homeowners insurance policy. But since many historic homes can cost millions of dollars to rebuild, you may need to get specialized high-value homeowners insurance to cover the home up to its full replacement cost.
Below are some insurance options for an older home:
HO-3 homeowners insurance policy. This is the most common form of homeowners insurance, and you may qualify for an HO-3 policy if you have an old home. If you don’t qualify for HO-3 insurance, you may only need to upgrade a few things about your home — like replacing your home’s wiring or updating your roof — in order to get coverage.
National Trust Insurance Services (NTIS). Through its subsidiary the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the NTIS works with multiple insurance companies that specialize in insuring older, high-value properties with a replacement cost that far exceeds the home’s market value.
HO-8 homeowners insurance policy. An HO-8 policy is designed for homes where the cost to rebuild is greater than the market value — which is the case for many older or historic homes. HO-8 homeowners insurance only reimburses you for damage on an actual cash value basis, which means the home’s replacement cost minus its depreciation. That means if your home incurs a loss, this policy probably won’t reimburse you for the more expensive historic building materials.
Additional coverage options for older homes
If you own an older home, you’ll need a homeowners insurance policy with additional coverage to fully protect it. Consider adding the following types of protection to your homeowners insurance policy:
1. Extended or guaranteed replacement cost coverage
With extended replacement cost coverage, your dwelling coverage is automatically increased an additional 25% to 50% in the event that your coverage limits are maxed out. Guaranteed replacement cost coverage is even better, reimbursing you for the full rebuild of your home regardless of how much it costs.
2. Water backup coverage
Water backup coverage covers your home and personal property against sewer or drain backups and is the perfect coverage add-on for a home with old piping.
3. Service line coverage
Service line coverage pays for damage to utility lines that run from your home to the street for which you, the homeowner, are personally responsible. If you live in an older home, there’s a good chance that your utility lines are old as well, making a service line coverage endorsement an invaluable policy add-on.
4. Scheduled personal property coverage
Many historic, older homes are styled and furnished with antiques and artifacts that were indicative of the period the home was built. Your furnishings are covered under the personal property coverage component in your policy, but certain expensive valuables are protected by a limited amount of coverage — also known as a sublimit. To increase the coverage limits for an antique china set or rug, you’ll need to add a scheduled personal property endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy.
5. Roof replacement coverage
In the event of roof damage, some companies may only reimburse you for the roof’s actual cash value if it’s beyond a certain age, in some cases 10 to 15 years old. If that’s the case with your home, check with your insurance company to see if the roof is covered for its replacement cost. If it’s not, check to see if your insurer offers roof replacement cost coverage for an additional premium.
6. Ordinance or law coverage
Ordinance or law coverage is an endorsement that you can add to your homeowners policy. This endorsement covers the cost of getting your house back up to code after a covered loss. For example, if your home burns down and the county requires it to be rebuilt with upgraded construction, ordinance or law coverage can help cover the increased costs. Keep in mind that means your older home may be rebuilt using more modern materials.
How to lower homeowners insurance premiums on your older home
If your homeowners insurance premiums are making your home unaffordable, you should first ask your insurance agent what the culprit is. Often the solution is something as simple as raising your deductible, but there are a number of other ways to lower your premiums.
Modernize the wiring (copper wiring is less of a fire hazard than aluminum wiring)
Replace the plumbing and utility lines
Replace the roof
Make cosmetic and interior upgrades and renovations
Check for available discounts, like safety or bundling discounts
Re-shopping your homeowners insurance can also save you money. Consider re-shopping your home insurance with an independent broker like Policygenius to get expert advice and compare quotes from multiple companies.
Policygenius analyzed 128 companies — and focused on the 10 homeowners insurance companies with the biggest market share in the country — to compare rates, coverage options, and availability for older homes.
Rates are provided by Quadrant Information Services in March 2022 for ZIP codes in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., for a 40-year-old homeowner with no claim history, good credit, a $1,000 deductible, and the following coverage limits:
Other structures: $30,000
Personal property: $150,000
Loss of use: $60,000
All rates based on the above coverage limits except where otherwise noted.
Some carriers may be represented by affiliates or subsidiaries. Rates provided are a sample of costs. Your actual quotes may differ.
Policygenius prides itself on providing transparent, unbiased reviews of home insurance companies. Though we make money when you purchase a policy through our site, this does not affect our editorial independence and rigorous editorial standards.