Homeowners Insurance and Knob-and-Tube Wiring...

jerry_in_oc_mdNovember 8, 2005

We had the home inspection on the 1920 "Dutch Colonial Revival" that we are in the process of purchasing.

The Inspector had a lot of concerns about the knob and tube wiring in the house. Some, but not all of the electric is updated. He recommended that we (or preferably the seller) have the wiring inspected and safety tested by an licensed electrician before we take possession of the house.

He mentioned that it might be tough to get a homeowners policy with the electric in it's current state. Has anyone else had difficulty getting an insurance policy for their home because of knob-and-tube?

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Here in Ontario, if you have an existing policy, most insurers will cover a newly purchased home with knob & tube wiring, and give you 30-60 days to disconnect and replace it.

This is a fairly recent change, for a couple of years, it was nigh on impossible to get insurance for any house with knob & tube unless it was with a high risk company.

First time home buyers are having more luck these days, but it often means wearing out your dialing finger. Having an electrical certificate stating that the wiring is safe and adequate and also advising what percentage of the wiring is knob & tube may help.

If you have home insurance now, check with your current broker to see how your company deals with knob & tube issues.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 6:11PM
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Here in Ontario I know of at least one person who was forced to replace their K&T or their insurance would not renew.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 7:00PM
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I should have been clearer. Most insurers here will not take on a home with knob & tube, or keep an existing property with K & T unless it is disconnected and replaced within 30-60 days.

The only exceptions I know of have been elderly folks who really don't use much power and tend to have no computers, VCR's, microwaves, and who live much more simply than those of us with all kinds of fancy appliances and toys. Electrician's letters advising that the wiring is safe and adequate for the senior have satisfied many insurance companies. Makes it tough for those buying the house if it's sold though.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 9:49PM
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When I bought my house, USAA (insurance company) wanted to see the home inspection report, which pictured some knob and tube wiring. They wanted it replaced until I showed them better pictures which clearly show the wiring was just a few pieces and the knobs, obviously hooked up.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2005 at 10:06PM
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We have knob and tube in our 1926 Tudor and never had any problems with getting insurance.
We use State Farm.
They never asked to see the inspection either.

Knob and tube wireing is usually not a problem as long as it is in good shape.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 12:09PM
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Other than insurance, the other problem with K&T is that you aren't supposed to insulate over it. So if you want to insulate the attic better than 1920s standards, you may be out of luck.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 2:21PM
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We were unable to get homeowners insurance with knob and tube energized. Agreed to de-energize circuit and update. Policy is through Vermont Mutual.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 2:45PM
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Our (Ontario)insurance company has not asked us to change out the knob and tube that remains, and their rep has seen it. What they did require was that we remove the line from our oil tank to the furnace that ran under the concrete basement floor and replace it with a line on top of the floor.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2005 at 6:46AM
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We have a 100 year old home. When we recently switched insurance companies, during the inspection one of the first questions the inspector asked was if there was any K & T wiring. Luckily there wasn't. It is a very real safety concern. I believe it may be more difficult to get insurance because of it. Perhaps you can have monies taken off the asking price of the home to get the home's wiring up to code. It can't hurt to ask. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   November 10, 2005 at 8:01AM
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We own a 1920's house, had all original K&T wiring. Amica (who we have used for 15 years) wouldn't insure the house - Fireman's fund would. We are replacing almost all of the original electrical...Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2005 at 3:00PM
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Our house was almost entirely knob & tube when purchased and we had no trouble insuring. (Allstate)

We've since rewired to code and insulated the attic. There was zero insulation when we purchased our home.

Another insurance issue we've run into is insuring for replacement of the historic home we have as opposed to a flat rate per square foot. I find there is tremendous variation among insurance companies, and among policies, and every so often I call around to update myself and my home. You can insure beyond the "standard" to protect your not-so-standard home.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2005 at 8:36PM
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We have Grange Insurance on an 1896 house. They didn't ask us about knob & tube, only about fuses vs. circuit breaker. We had 90 days to upgrade to a CB.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2005 at 4:44PM
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I believe this is a phoney issue the insurance companies use to avoid insuring old houses. I checked with our state fire marshall and only 3% of all home fires in our state are caused by electrical failures of all types. The number caused because there's a fuse box or K&T wiring don't rate their own statistics. Cooking is another matter. Cooking is the cause of 43% of fires in this state. Maybe insurance companies should stop covering houses with kitchens.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2005 at 10:11PM
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I have a 1918 house in TN. It has some K&T in it as well. The main breaker had two 100 amp fuses in it and was able to insure it with the condition that I replace the fuse box with a circuit breaker, but none of the wiring was a problem. The thing I had the most problem with was that it is partially asbestos sided. Try Erie Insurance if they are available in your area.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2005 at 11:23PM
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I use MEEMIC insurance. They never asked me about knob and tube electrical when I bought my house in Dec 2004. The only things they asked me about:

- Type of house (wood frame)
- Date built (1950)
- Do I have a woodstove (no)
- Type of furnace
- When electrical updated (didn't know)
- When plumbing updated (didn't know)

    Bookmark   November 23, 2005 at 9:32AM
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insurance is a license to steal

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 11:39AM
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