In Québec, an “old house” or “heritage home” is a house built before 1940 under the Cultural Heritage Act.
To take out home insurance for this type of buildings, it’s important that owners have all the property’s information on hand, especially if it has been granted status by the government or a municipality.
Does your house have status? Do any protection and conservation requirements apply under the law and municipal by-laws?
Different statuses are used to list and protect buildings with heritage value.
Not all old houses have a status or must meet government requirements. For example, many houses are inventoried but do not have any requirements.
If this is the case for your old house, it’s important to gather related documentation and notify the insurer when renewing or shopping for your home insurance.
There are various statuses for old houses and heritage homes. They are awarded by the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec (MCCQ), by a local or regional municipality, or by a band council.1
These are the different statuses that can be attributed to a building that has heritage value in Québec:
Conservation and protection requirements may be attached to the status, but not always. For example, status G, “inventoried,” is the most commonly assigned status and has no conservation requirements from the government; it is only part of an inventory within the meaning of the Act.
In many cases, the requirements relate to the exterior of the building. It is therefore important to know what the exact case is for your old house.
1The Cultural Heritage Act was revised in 2021 and provides that Québec municipalities have until 2026 to update their inventory of heritage buildings. The number of houses listed in the Répertoire is therefore set to increase over the next few years.
Some local or regional municipalities and band councils may also assign status to buildings that have heritage value on their territory. Even if an old house has no legal status under the Act, it could be subject to regulations issued by them.
Verify if this is the case for your old house with your local or regional municipality.
Search the Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec to find out if your house has a status (in French only).
To help you search the Répertoire, the Insurance Bureau of Canada has created a tutorial for checking the MCCQ website.
A complete file on the maintenance and history of an old house will enable the insurer to make an adequate assessment of your insurance needs. Old and heritage homes often have unique or specific features. Have photos and invoices on hand if you had, for example, your heating system or roof replaced, or your plumbing upgraded.
In addition, if your old house has legal status, your file should contain for example a copy of the “recognition by-law” for a building recognized by a municipality, or the “notice of classification” for an immovable classified by the MCCQ, if applicable. The requirements related to the building can be found in these documents and they should be provided to the insurer to better assess the needs in the event of a claim.
A well-maintained property represents less risk for the insurer and is therefore easier to insure
It is important to take out a sufficient amount of insurance to comply with the regulations that apply to your old house, if any. The amount should take into account the real value of your property.
If a major loss occurs, and your old house has a status that must meet certain requirements, the MCCQ has established a directive on work authorizations following an occurrence affecting a heritage building (Directive concernant l’analyse d’une autorisation de travaux associée à un sinistre). This guideline aims to make it easier for owners and insurers to repair damage within a reasonable time for building under the MCCQ's juridiction.
By having the status of your house on hand, you can provide the necessary information to your insurer. If the status has no requirements, your insurance representative should know. This will make it easier for you to take out home insurance.
Some insurers do not offer insurance products for old homes if specific protection requirements apply. It is recommended to speak with several insurers and insurance brokers.
If you are planning to buy an old house, ask the previous owner to provide you with the contact information for the insurance company they had chosen.
The Insurance Information Centre can also give you the information you need and help you to have access to an insurance for your old house, free of charge.
If you're having trouble finding home insurance, whether you are a homeowner or a future buyer of a heritage home, Tthe Insurance Information Centre can also give you the information you need and help you, free of charge, to have access to a an insurance for your old househome insurance policy for your old house, free of charge.
Other topic that may interest you: