Typical Cost of Insurance covering Knob & Tube Wiring
April 14, 2011 3:31 PM   Subscribe

What is the average increase in home insurance if the house has knob and tube wiring?

It seems many companies do not offer insurance if there is knob and tube wiring in place, but I know there are some out there. We are in MA.
We are looking to purchase a home built in 1907, and there is some knob and tube, but also a lot of newer wiring that has been done in the last year or so.
Really just trying to get a ballpark figure for how much more insurance may cost with the older wiring. Not sure we will have the option to remove it before we buy the house.
posted by Andrea2880 to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call your insurance company and ask. My insurance company has been happy to provide me with speculative quotes for buying things like cars and our house.
posted by straw at 3:45 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

FWIW -- I have a house built in the 1920s -- called eight? different insurers -- response to that situation: "No." Removing the knob and tube cost about $1,500. They did not mind giving me a policy with the wiring still there when I moved in, with the electrician booked to come and take it out; I wouldn't anticipate problems with a 'will be removed asap' deal with the insurer.
posted by kmennie at 3:51 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might want to check to see if the knob and tube wiring is still in use. I had a house rewired and they left the old stuff in the walls but disconnected it.
posted by mareli at 4:27 PM on April 14, 2011

Our insurer dropped us when the knob and tube wiring present at inspection was not removed in time. Make sure to be timely in this case. We didn't have a deadline; we just got a check in the mail with a cancellation notice.
posted by mkb at 4:47 PM on April 14, 2011

Impossible to say. Depends on way too much. Get a quote.
posted by valkyryn at 5:26 PM on April 14, 2011

As others say, you need to get a quote.

I will tell you though, I am an electrician and I own a few rental properties. As a land-lord, I get dwelling/fire policies, not home-owners like you will get. I am also in Florida, which has a lot of property insurance problems (see hurricanes and sink-holes).

I have some property with knob-and-tube. For one thing, I have a short term goal to remove all knob-and-tube. As electrician, I will tell you that the insurance companies have good reason to not insure it. It is dangerous. If you buy the home, you should definitely pay an electrician to look over everything, and make sure it is as safe as can be for the time being.

It can take some time to before you get it all out. And you need insurance now. Basically, I have found that if an insurance does an inspection, and discovers that it exists, you are not getting the insurance. So, you are left with only going for no-inspection policies. For me, that basically means I can only get a DP4 policy - less coverage, no replacement cost (actual value instead). Basically, because knob-and-tube is there, I pay about $50 to $75 more a month, and I have considerably worse insurance.
posted by Flood at 6:20 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's going to be very difficult insuring that property but there are some things that can be done to appease and appeal to insurance companies. 1. Have the wiring inspected and documented for it's condition. 2. Have a main circuit breaker installed for the K&T section. 3. Install GFCI breakers where the K&T is used in the house. (All of that stuff should be under $500 and will probably get you insured.)

I'd also use this as a bargaining point with the seller. They should reduce the selling price for the amount of the cost of the upgrade. 3 or 4 thousand bucks isn't really a big deal in real estate. (That's coming from my experience in CA.)

Best of luck to you!
posted by snsranch at 7:08 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention that I got the seller to take the electrician's estimate off the price of the house. "Not insurable as is" was a powerful negotiating tool, it turned out; no hesitation at all, from a miserly seller who was not otherwise particularly open to negotiation. Caveat: what the electrical work eventually cost was more than the initial estimate -- old houses are full of surprises -- but.
posted by kmennie at 8:25 PM on April 14, 2011

I don't think my insurance company ever asked. Most of the wiring in the house has been upgraded but there is some older wiring in place to a few rooms. There are all new circuit breakers and the wiring going to those is all modern. So the knob and tube is not really visible until you start knocking out walls.
posted by JJ86 at 6:23 AM on April 15, 2011

My husband and I were considering buying a house built in 1911, and our real estate agent had what I think was a great idea regarding the probable knob and tube wiring issue: ask the seller what insurance company he used, then call them and ask for a quote, since they already know about the issue and are insuring it anyway.
posted by Safiya at 11:50 AM on April 15, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In case anyone else is wondering, we ended up getting an estimate of $1200 to insure without the wiring, and $3000 to insure WITH it.
posted by Andrea2880 at 9:07 PM on April 29, 2011

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