Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (2030)

James Browne

Question:

2030. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her views on the difficulties facing owners of thatched houses in County Wexford in securing home insurance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35867/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Culture)

I am aware that insurance of thatched buildings has been an issue for some time and appreciate the heritage value of such properties.

My Department has no role, however, in relation to such insurance. The provision of insurance cover and the price at which it is offered is ultimately a commercial matter for insurance companies based on their assessment of the risks the underwriter wishes to accept and adequate provisioning to meet these risks. However, it may be useful for owners of thatched properties to approach brokers who specialise in historic buildings, as they are more likely to be aware of the particular requirements of what the sector considers non-standard buildings.  

Owners may also wish to engage a building conservation professional to liaise with the broker’s thatch insurance representative to see what (if any) remedial works would be acceptable to the broker’s underwriter to reduce the risk to a level that would result in an acceptable quotation. They may also wish to consult the owners of other thatched premises to ascertain their approach.  The publication Thatch, a Guide to the Repair of Thatched Roofs (Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 2015), which contains guidance on fire prevention measures, may be useful in this regard. This publication is also available on my Department’s website at www.chg.gov.ie/app/uploads/2015/07/Thatch-A-Guide-to-the-Repair-of-Thatched-Roofs-2015.pdf .

Where individuals are experiencing difficulty in obtaining insurance, they can contact Insurance Ireland which operates a free Insurance Information Service for those who have queries, complaints or difficulties in relation to insurance. If they are dissatisfied with the outcome of the provider’s complaints process, they have the right to take the matter up with the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.

As you may be aware, my Department oversees a number of schemes to assist in the conservation of protected structures such as thatched cottages. These schemes are the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Historic Structures Fund. They are administered through the local authorities and details are available on my Department’s website at www.chg.gov.ie/heritage/built-heritage/financial-assistance-for-architectural-heritage/ and on Wexford County Council's website at www.wexfordcoco.ie/planning/built-heritage/grants-for-protected-structures.