Electrical wiring is typically covered by homeowners insurance if it’s damaged, but the age of your home and the type of wiring can have an impact on your homeowners insurance rates. That’s because the older the wiring, the more likely it is to be a fire hazard. Knob and tube wiring and aluminum wiring can often result in higher insurance rates.
Can you get homeowners insurance with knob and tube wiring?
You can likely find homeowners insurance if you have knob and tube wiring. However, some insurance companies may not insure a home with knob and tube wiring, and others might charge higher rates due to the fire hazard..
Knob and tube wiring was one of the earliest residential wiring systems and most commonly found in homes built between 1880 and the 1940s. Ceramic knobs anchor the wire to the house framing and porcelain tubes are used where it passes through the framing. The “hot wire” has a cloth or rubber insulation, called the “loom.”
Knob and tube wiring is considered a hazard because of:
- Grounding: Knob and tube doesn't have a grounding conductor, which makes it hazardous in kitchens and bathrooms where it may come in contact with water.
- Age: The insulation surrounding the wiring could have deteriorated, dried and cracked, leaving wires exposed.
- Insulation: If knob and tube wiring is surrounded by insulation, it can cause heat to build up and cause a fire.
- Improper modifications: Modern household appliances such as televisions, dishwashers and refrigerators require a higher voltage than the appliances that were being used when knob and tube wiring was originally installed. It's not uncommon to find that inexperienced electricians made modifications in an attempt to meet new voltage demands, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.
Can you get homeowners insurance with aluminum wiring?
You can get homeowners insurance if you have aluminum wiring but, like knob and tube wiring, some insurance companies may charge higher rates or not cover aluminum wired homes.
Homes wired with aluminum are 55 times more likely to have one or more connections at outlets reach fire hazard conditions, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Aluminum wiring was prevalent in homes built between 1965 and 1973. At the time, aluminum was a cheaper substitute for copper.
Aluminum wiring is considered a hazard because of:
- Aging: Aluminum wiring is less durable than copper wiring. Copper is more resistant to damage and generally has a longer life.
- Overheating: Because aluminum breaks down faster than copper, the risk of overheating is greater due to oxidation, excessive vibration and other issues.
What can you do if your home has knob and tube or aluminum wiring?
If your home has old wiring, it's a good idea to have it checked by a licensed electrician to see if you need to have the wiring replaced. If you do update the wiring, ask your home insurance company if you're eligible for a new-wiring credit.
Signs your home may have outdated wiring include:
- Your home is more than 40 years old.
- Your home has ungrounded two-prong outlets.
- Your home has frequent blown fuses or tripped breakers.
- Major appliances such as a dishwasher or refrigerator strain your existing electrical system.
- Lights dim or flicker.
- You get sparks and/or an electric shock from an outlet when you unplug or plug a cord.
- You hear buzzing and/or sizzling sounds.
- You get a burning smell.
Here’s a room-by-room electrical safety checklist from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.