Thatched cottage owners are working to set up a group insurance scheme to secure coverage after Irish insurers stopped taking such customers due to “a lack of risk-taking”.
People who want to buy thatched properties are now struggling to get mortgages because they cannot get insurance.
Many are taking enormous risks by living in uninsured homes, and others have gone into debt after paying thousands for insurance.
Áine McGarry bought Trohanny Cottage in Co Meath with her late husband in 2000 and together they worked to transform it from a derelict building into one of the most visited properties in the county.
She is currently renting it out on Airbnb to try and raise funds to cover the €11,000 she was quoted for repairs to the property.
Ms McGarry said the grants being offered by the government are not enough to cover “astronomical” insurance and maintenance costs.
“You are the custodian of an amazing, protected structure and we want to do our best and keep it, but there is a lot of responsibility – you feel very alone,” she said.
“The building is like a child in need of care. You love it so much and are so invested in it, but there is such an enormous responsibility. The government wants us to protect them, but on the other hand they do nothing to help people get affordable insurance.
“I have guests from overseas and some have written in the guest book that they came to Ireland because they saw the cottage online and wanted to stay in it.
“It’s going to be like we don’t know what we have until it’s gone because if things continue like this we will be charging people for tickets to visit those properties – as the owners won’t be able to.” will continue to wait for her.”
Ms McGarry’s thatched cottage is covered by public liability insurance for the neighboring farm buildings, but she described it as a “grey area”.
“I’d rather have a special cover for the thatched roof but unfortunately I can’t get one, especially since Brexit. God help anyone who has recently bought a thatched cottage.”
Laura Ní Loingsigh NicBhaddaigh had hopes of buying a thatched cottage in The Ballagh, Co. Wexford but unfortunately she was unable to make any progress with a deal.
The house she wanted dates back to the 17th century and is a beautiful historic building.
“I looked at it but couldn’t even make it to the bid stage because I couldn’t clear the insurance hurdle,” she said.
FBD Insurance, one of the main insurance companies, said: “Thatched houses are not currently in our risk appetite for new business. However, we may consider suggestions for existing customers on a case-by-case basis.
“We continue to offer renewal terms for properties already covered.”
OBF Insurance has also stopped writing new thatched roof insurance “due to the serious deterioration in thatched roof property claims history”.
“If thatched roof property insurance was profitable, other insurers would flock to the market,” OBF added.
Colman Stack, who lives in a thatched house in Co Cork, is currently uninsured. The cost of coverage, he said, is a major deterrent for many.
“Thatched houses are disappearing very quickly. I would like to see something done to encourage more people to start roofing again,” he said.
It is now estimated that there are just over 1,000 thatched plots left in Ireland.
The Alliance for Insurance Reform has called on the government to organize an alternative to commercial coverage. A petition urging the government to address the discrepancy between regular property insurance and thatched roof insurance has garnered hundreds of signatures so far. “If this insurance situation persists, our legacy will suffer,” the petition reads.
The monument council expressed the hope “that a working basis for the premium calculation can be established for all those involved”.
A study on insurance issues for thatched roof houses is in progress. Owners of thatched roof buildings are invited to participate in the study.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/through-the-roof-thatched-cottage-owners-to-set-up-new-group-insurance-scheme-due-to-soaring-costs-41922054.html Through the ceiling: Owners of thatched cottages start new group insurance due to rising costs