- What Dracula would lose out on due to wear and tear
- Why lightning shouldn't be your primary power source
- How a ghostly curse could affect your cover
A leaky roof, boarded up passageways, home laboratories and resident poltergeists – these spooky houses aren't in the best nick. With our hearts in our mouths, we find out whether six famously foreboding horror movie houses would qualify for a home insurance quote.
1. Castle Dracula
Dracula's Transylvanian castle is old and dilapidated, with much of the masonry falling away or completely missing.
'The walls of my castle are broken. The shadows are many, and the wind breathes cold through the broken battlements,' says a forlorn Count Dracula to the novel's protagonist Jonathan Harker, before imprisoning him in it (presumably so he doesn't go straight to the health and safety authorities).
Unfortunately for the Count, his crumbling castle would be risky to insure, especially as, when approached through the forest on a dark night, the 'broken battlements’ are visible against the sky. Castle Dracula is a classic example of poor maintenance, where wear and tear has not been dealt with.
“Broken walls and a crumbling roof can lead to a number of problems, including leaky ceilings and problems with damp," explains LV= Household Underwriter Jacqui Carter. “Home insurance isn’t designed to cover you for damage caused by lack of maintenance or wear and tear.
“If it’s been a while since your roof has had some TLC, the flashing on your chimney has seen better days, or your guttering is looking a little loose, it’s best to get it sorted before it causes a big problem."
Would we insure it? Don’t count on it!
2. Frankenstein's Lab
Unless you have read Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, it may surprise you to learn that Dr. Frankenstein's lab was not originally in the basement.
It was actually ‘in a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and staircase'. It also had a retractable roof so his creation could come to life after being charged by lightning.
Buildings insurance would normally cover lightning damage, but as Frankenstein has set up equipment to attract lightning strikes, underwriters would treat any claim he made as a special circumstance.
"A lightning strike may trip your power, leaving you with a freezer full of defrosted food or a TV that won't turn on" says Jacqui. "The good news is LV= will cover any electrical items that won't work as a result of the lightning strike, and your freezer food for up to £500.
"For the unlucky few, a direct lightning hit can cause a fire which could see them in alternative accommodation for weeks, or even months, whilst the damage is put right," she adds.
Would we insure it? To be frank, not a chance!
3. The Overlook Hotel from The Shining
Let's put past events and ghostly possession to one side for a moment and judge the Overlook Hotel as a building in its own right.
Obviously, the Overlook Hotel would qualify for hotel insurance, but after the lack of success it has had with guests, we wouldn't be surprised if the owners decided to cut their losses and sell to a private buyer.
One thing to consider is the drastic remodeling Jack does with an axe, hacking through a bathroom door. Remodeling accidents are often insured against, providing you have full accidental damage cover. But as this was no accident, Jack's thrown away any chance of insurance.
Unfortunately, the Overlook Hotel's hedge maze, which plays host to the climactic chase scene, is too large for the standard garden plant cover.
"The level of cover you have for your plants will depend on who you're insured with, but at LV= we will cover your garden plants for up to £1,000 – with a limit per hedge, tree, shrub, plant or lawn of £250," explains Jacqui. "So if your Halloween bonfire damages your newly laid lawn, or jokers make off with your prized cherry blossom, you can rest assured that you're covered."
Would we insure it? Nothing could possess us to do so!
4. The house from Poltergeist
There are few things in the supernatural world that are worse for homeowners than a poltergeist: a demonic presence possessing the home and generally causing chaos.
Once an exorcist's been called, the next thing on someone's mind if they had a resident poltergeist might be to check their contents cover. Unfortunately, with the gleeful abandon that most poltergeists display when rearranging the furniture, insurers would quickly become suspicious about the amount of claims made.
Eventually, no doubt, the inhabitants would have to stay somewhere else – to have an exorcism performed, for example. However, they would struggle to qualify for the relevant cover, as how would they prove it was needed?
"I've not heard of someone trying to claim for damage caused by a poltergeist, or needing alternative accommodation because of one either," admits Jacqui. "But if your home does become inhabitable due to something like a fire or flood and you're without a kitchen or bathroom, or your property is unsafe to live in, we will pay up to £25,000 for similar accommodation whilst repairs are being carried out."
And all this is way before we get to the ancient burial grounds beneath the floorboards and inter-dimensional portals in the cupboards.
Would we insure it? I would bury that thought right now!
5. The Bates Mansion in Psycho
The Bates family home in Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho is a Victorian Gothic mansion adjoining the Bates Motel, where owner Norman offers rooms at a price to die for.
Sat on the top of a mound and led to by a winding set of stairs it looks like it's set on solid foundations and at little risk of subsidence or flooding. However, the house has an air of decrepitude to it.
It's probably been a long time since it had a lick of paint and maintenance is probably low down on the list of priorities for Norman, who is either busy running round for his mother or cleaning.
If the owner made a claim for storm damage, he might have the same problem as Dracula in convincing his insurer that the damage was caused by an insured peril and not merely a case of deterioration or wear and tear.
But before an insurer takes on the risk, they might just want to check what exactly is kept in the fruit cellar. If it's good enough to keep the desiccated remains of your relatives in there, what else might we find hidden?
Would we insure it? Possibly, but best to have a word with Mother first.
6. The murder house in Halloween
In John Carpenter's masterful Halloween, Laurie Strode is babysitting across the road from the Wallace house, where knife-wielding murderer Michael Myers is dispatching her teenage friends.
Although the owners might struggle to eventually sell the house because of its reputation as a murder house, it's actually a fairly good risk for an insurer to take on.
It's a standard construction property in a quiet residential area of Haddonfield, Illinois. The house looks well-maintained and once the damage caused by Myers' rampage has been fixed, it will present a good risk.
Would we insure it? A US insurer would probably see this as more of a treat than trick - which proves that not all horror houses are insurance blackspots.
It may be Halloween, but, unless you're one of these horror homeowners, there's nothing scary about getting a home insurance quote.