How times change, but also they don’t!

Casting an eye back through time can often tell us a lot about where we are today. RebuildCostASSESSMENT.com’s James Scott Brown highlights a fascinating 55 year-old article about insuring buildings correctly, that was unearthed by one of our broker clients…

CALL ME old fashioned, but I’ve always had a fascination for things from the past. It’s what ultimately led to my passion for valuing heritage buildings and I consider myself fortunate to be a specialist in this field.


So, you can imagine my joy when I was recently contacted by Steve Moores, an insurance broker who shares my passion for ‘old stuff’, who told me about an article from Country Life magazine as long ago as 1967, explaining reinstatement costs and getting sums insured right.


The article, which we’ve since gained permission from the publishers to reproduce online, is titled ‘Insuring at Today’s Values’ and focusses on a domestic property in Ascot, Berkshire. Steve discovered it quite by random, while searching around on Google, like we do!


What struck us both about the article is how much of the message hasn’t really changed. It makes the point that “as time goes on, many house-owners fail to ensure that the value of their policies keep pace with the rising values of houses.”


Average Clause

Steve, who is Client Director at Aston Lark, also pointed out to me how 55 years ago, Country Life were very keen to bring to people's attention the serious potential consequences of underinsurance.


“Isn’t it fascinating how all this time ago, a problem was being highlighted that is still very much with us to this day,” said Steve. “The way it speaks about the Average Clause and the pitfalls of estimating reinstatement costs, can all be applied to the here and now.”


Steve also brought to my attention just how much the value of things can change over time. Towards the end of the article, it describes a home in Farnham, Surrey with four bedrooms, two reception rooms and an 18th century façade, for which offers were being sought at the time for £18,500! As Steve said to me: “I’ll have two at that price!”


Things change!

For all my ramblings, there are two important messages here. The first is that the problem highlighted in this article from over half a century ago is still very much with us. 80% of properties in the UK are insured for the wrong amount and on average for only two thirds of what they should be.


And the second? Values change and can change a lot in time. Without regular reviews, particularly at a time of significant inflationary pressures, as we are now, it’s easy to find that the insurance cover placed on our buildings is, often, way out and in the event of a claim, that spells trouble.


Many thanks to Steve Moores for bringing this intriguing piece of the past to my attention. If you would like to know more about how we help brokers help their clients get their building sums insured correct, get in touch today.

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