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Insuring Historic Properties

Many insurance companies are unfamiliar with the National Register of Historic Places and State Register of Historic Properties and what designation entails for a historic property. Please be aware that listing in either the National Register and/or State Register is honorary. Both registers recognize a historic property’s importance to its community, the State, or the nation and encourages good stewardship.

Listing, either individually or as a contributing resource in a registered historic district, should have no bearing on insurance coverage. Owning a property listed in the National or State Register does not impose a regulatory burden on the property owner. When making repairs to a listed property that may involve an insurance claim, the property owner is under no obligation to make the repairs following accepted historic preservation standards or guidelines, such as the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Should a listed property become damaged or be destroyed, there is no state or federal requirement that the property be rebuilt or repaired to reflect its historic appearance nor that a particular contractor be used to make repairs.

The National Register of Historic Places is a program of the National Park Service (NPS) and the Washington State Heritage Register is a program of the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation; DAHP administers both of these programs in Washington State. Listing in the National and State registers places no restrictions on private property owners.

Please be aware that:

  • Private property owners are not restricted as to the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of a listed property;
  • Owners have no obligation to open their properties to the public, restore them, or maintain them in a particular way, if they choose not to do so, nor does listing lead to public acquisition;
  • Under Federal and State laws, private property owners can do anything they wish with their National property, provided that no Federal or State license, permit, or funding is involved;
  • Listing does not require that any specific guidelines be followed in rehabilitating, remodeling, repairing, or renovating (unless the owner is using federal funds or receiving Washington State grant money, Federal or State Preservation Tax Credits, or other state funds);
  • If a listed property is destroyed or its integrity is greatly altered, it may be removed from the National Register and State Register through an administrative action by DAHP, and the NPS (if also listed in the National Register).

Exceptions

If a property is listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register, the National Historic Preservation Act requires the Federal government to take into account the possibility of adverse effects on the historic property by a project that receives federal licensing, permitting, or funding. This process is mandated by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.  Specific regulations to this process, called as Section 106 Review, can be found here.

Insurance Companies Offering Insurance for Historic Properties

Some insurance firms are knowledgeable about the National and State Registers and what listing of a privately owned historic property (individually or in a historic district) does and does not mean when it comes to insurance coverage. Purchasing insurance coverage is a complex matter unique to each property and owner. Property owners are encouraged to become informed consumers of all their insurance products, to speak with experts in insurance and financial planning, and to work with a trusted insurance agent and company to design a policy that is appropriate.

The table below is provided solely for the information and convenience of property owners seeking insurance for their historic property. This list does not presume to be all inclusive; however, all property companies that request inclusion will be listed. Inclusion on this list does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by DAHP, or a demonstration of professional competence. As a government agency, DAHP cannot recommend the services of a specific insurance company, agent, or firm and does not accept responsibility for the performance of any insurance company, agent, or firm. While DAHP strives to make the information available to the public as accurate and current as possible, DAHP makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of this list, and DAHP expressly disclaims liability for errors and omissions in the contents of this list. No warranty of any kind, implied, expressed, or statutory, including but not limited to the warranties of non-infringement of third party rights, title, merchantability, or fitness for a particular purpose, is given.

Insurnace Comany  Additional Information
Chubb Group of Insurance Companies Provides insurance coverage specific to historic houses and other property types
Fireman's Fund Insurance Company Provides insurance coverage specific to historic houses and other property types
National Trust Insurance Services LLC The National Trust for Historic Preservation has formed a subsidiary, National Trust Insurance Services, LLC that offers a variety of insurance solutions to property owners
Other Options Major insurance companies, such as Allstate, American Family, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, State Farm, USAA, as well as other companies and firms offer numerous types of insurance policies. Insurance coverage requirements vary from state to state and policy coverage available in one place may not be available in another. Property owners should speak with a knowledgeable local agent representing the firm with which they wish to do business to see what options are available in their property’s locality and most appropriate for their historic property.