|The Insurance Guy: The Old Knob and Tube|
|By David Bissaillon, iBerkshires Columnist|
09:33AM / Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Certain issues in real life pop up on occasion because of their insurance world implications; knob and tube electrical wiring is one such topic that recently bubbled to the surface.
I know you are at the edge of your seat now, waiting to hear more. Berkshire County has lots of older homes, many of them well maintained and quite desirable. However, one of the potentially less appealing features of an older home (especially as it relates to being able to secure affordable homeowners insurance) is that many of these houses were installed with "knob and tube" wiring.
If you have a home with knob and tube wiring and you have your home insured, there may not be any issues at all. In other words, if you are renewing your homeowner's policy with the same insurance company year after year, the issue of knob and tube being a problem may never arise. Insurance companies will not typically investigate longstanding homes they have insured to see if this type of wiring is in place.
However, if you go to sell your home or change insurance companies, it may be a whole other issue. The bottom line is that insurance companies really don't want to insure homes that have knob and tube.
Why is that?
Knob and tube wiring was typically installed before the 1940s, so first of all, the wiring is old and may be more vulnerable to causing problems leading to such losses as fire. It has no ground wire such as newer systems do and therefore can also present a greater fire hazard. There are also concerns about older systems having additional improperly installed systems along the way. There is also no consistent code requiring full removal of knob and tube wiring, leading to different requirements of dealing with knob and tube throughout the country. We do know that knob and tube is not permitted in any new construction.
What if you are faced with the scenario of having a difficult time securing insurance for your home because of knob and tube wiring being in place?
You need to work with your local agent because different insurance companies have different guidelines on addressing this subject. Let your agent work for you and try to find a solution. It may yield a new insurance provider or at least some time to figure out the issue of replacing the old wiring. Work as well with your licensed electrician to see what options may be in place to address the wiring in the home.
In the end, you may be forced to replace the knob and tube wiring, but that may yield lower insurance premiums, peace of mind, or maybe even an ability to sell your home for a good price. Hope you had a nice summer ... .
Dave Bissaillon dabbles in real life while working daily as an account executive at Smith Bros.-McAndrews Insurance Agency in Adams. His occasional column will touch on insurance and other fun stuff.