There are many considerations to take into account when insuring an estate as historic and vast as Downton Abbey, reports Erie Insurance, which just released an exhaustive series of blogs calculating the insurance costs of the fictional estate. The grand mansion, otherwise known as Highclere Castle, contains about 300 rooms, 30 "wash closets," and sits on some 1,000 acres of land. According to the non-affiliated U.S. insurance company, the property and contents of the weepy British period drama (which returns this Sunday) is valued at $400M, thanks to the "truly priceless items" it contains, like "5,650 rare books that date back to the 16th century, paintings by Old World masters like Anthony van Dyck, and antiquities from ancient Egypt."
"When you think of everything from the ironwork to the stonework to the woodwork in Downton Abbey, you are looking at the services of a small army of very specialized artisan contractors," says Terry McConnell, vice president of Personal Lines Underwriting at Erie Insurance. Hard-to-replicate rooms at Downton Abbey include a double library, a state dining room, and lavish drawing rooms with leather or gold leaf walls. "It's hard to find people with those unique skill sets—and when you do, you need to transport and lodge for them for an extended period of time," says McConnell.
Since Lord and Lady Grantham have so many servants, from the pugnacious cook Mrs. Patmore to the scheming valet Thomas, they would also need to purchase workers compensation insurance for the 70 employees who cater to their every whim. Erie estimates this cost at $26K, although that cost would likely go up once the Downton Abbey hotel opens on Valentine's Day.
As the Crawley dynasty well knows, there can be drawbacks to frequent entertaining. One of these is needing to purchase extra insurance in case any aristocratic guests get injured on your property. "When Her Majesty, the Queen of England, is your dinner guest, you have a definite need for liability coverage," declares the hyper-detailed seven-part series on Erie Insurance's website, which also points out that commoners who get injured on the estate might try to milk the Crawleys for a lot of money, which would be a problem, since Lord Grantham is not super-great at managing the family's wealth.
"Other risks are the invigorating fox and pheasant hunts that regularly take place on the property, and the possibility of Lord Grantham's dog, Isis, biting someone." Quite!
The team over at Erie insurance calculates the total cost of insuring Downton Abbey at $10M annually. Unfortunately for the lords and ladies of the great house, "it is highly unlikely any one company would want to insure such a big risk."
· How Much Would It Cost to Insure Downton Abbey [Erie Insurance]
· You Can Now Sleep at the Real-Life Downton Abbey Estate [Curbed National]
· All Downton Abbey coverage [Curbed National]