When someone dies, if they owned their own home and lived in it alone, it is highly likely the house will become unoccupied while executors apply for probate to dispose of the deceased’s estate.
Unless another family member is able to move in, the property may remain empty throughout the period of probate. Read our blog to find out how to sell a house in probate.
Here we answer your questions about getting the right insurance cover for a house left unoccupied because the owner has died.
Who needs to organise insurance for the empty house?
The executor of the deceased’s will has a duty to protect the assets of the deceased’s estate – including the property – so suitable insurance needs to be arranged during this period.
It can take many months to get a certificate of probate so it is likely that the property will remain unoccupied for more than the 30 days allowed on a normal home insurance policy.
If the property is left empty, restrictions and exclusions may apply to the level of cover offered by standard home insurance. There is also a possibility that the policy could become invalidated.
Why do insurance companies treat unoccupied properties differently?
An unoccupied property is exposed to greater risks than a property which is lived in on a continuous basis.
A minor fault, such as a leaking water pipe, may develop into a serious problem if there is no one there to react and get it repaired quickly.
Empty properties can also be targetted by burglars, arsonists, squatters, vandals and other unwelcome individuals.
Can the insurance company transfer cover to the executor of the will?
In some cases the insurance company can transfer the policy to the executor, but this will vary from company to company and policy to policy.
Does the insurance cover lapse when the policyholder dies?
Home insurance lead at Adrian Flux, Chelsea Shakespeare, said: “If we aren’t aware of the client passing the policy would continue running although it is likely to eventually be invalidated given that we wouldn’t have been informed of the change of occupancy.”
Is there a period of grace before cover lapses?
Chelsea said: “If we were informed of the death we would look to ensure the policy is made correct there and then, and if we needed to, as a broker, we would look to provide an alternative to the current insurer if they couldn’t provide cover.”
What insurance is needed for an unoccupied home?
You will need unoccupied insurance cover for the property, and possibly cover for any contents remaining in the house too.
Chelsea added: “Buildings cover is the most important insurance but, contents would be important too if the executors haven’t had a chance to clear through the contents. You would have to ensure that the insurer covers unoccupied periods past the standard 30 days and that cover isn’t then restricted.”
What are the benefits of unoccupied insurance cover?
As a specialist home insurance broker Adrian Flux unoccupied home insurance policies come with a range of benefits. These include:
- Cover for any unoccupied home including listed buildings
- Portfolio Insurance, where several properties are owned
- Domestic Assistance Helpline with advice and contact details for tradesmen
- Discounts for alarms and security locks.
- Discount when you take combined buildings and content cover
How can I get a quote for unoccupied insurance cover?
Call the experts at Adrian Flux on 0333 272 4359 – 81.5% of all customers receiving an online quote in August 2022 could have obtained a cheaper quote over the phone, based on the information they provided.