Probate property insurance

Empty home buildings insurance for probate property

An executor of an estate will know it is a legal requirement to ensure that the assets of the deceased person are protected. The empty home of the deceased is often the most valuable asset to protect and careful consideration needs to be given to the empty property insurance during probate.

Sometimes executors of an estate will continue with the standard home insurance that was in place prior to the policyholder passing away. This is often a very poor decision and in some instances, could be a leave the executor personally responsible for any uninsured losses depending on the restrictions in cover the insurer imposes.

Upon learning the property is empty, the insurers will either cancel the policy straight away, continue with the policy and cancel after 30 days, or say that standard terms apply until renewal date. Depending on the insurer, ‘standard terms’ for a normal home insurance policy will often exclude burst pipes, escape of water, theft, theft damage and malicious damage as soon as a property is either not lived in &/or unfurnished.

The essential cover is excluded by the insurer on a standard policy. As there is a legal responsibility to protect the assets of the estate, the executor(s) could find themselves personally legally liable if there is damage to the property that is not covered by insurance, because of an inadequate policy. A home insurer will often tell an executor that “standard policy terms apply” which gives the impression the cover is unaffected. Quite the opposite is true and although the insurer should explain what the standard policy terms are, they often do not, leaving you to establish the holes in cover yourself. As far as the insurer is concerned, they have issued the policy and it is up to you to read it!

The cost of unoccupied property insurance for probate property depends on the level of cover that is purchased. There are no standard cover levels but insurers will often refer to Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 for unoccupied property. An executor of an estate will need to look carefully at the cover that is actually provided by each level of cover, as they will differ. Sometimes Level 1 is better, sometimes Level 3 is better! Forget about what ‘Level Number’ it is though, the essential cover you need is standard perils including burst pipes, escape of water, theft, theft damage and malicious damage. The priority is to get the essential cover included in the policy so do not be tempted to buy an empty property insurance policy just on price. Remember, the executors are legally responsible for their actions so it pays to buy the best policy available – at the most competitive premium of course.

There is a large cost difference between sub standard unoccupied property insurance cover and the best cover. When looking at quotations, the executors needs to be fully aware of the variations. The conditions that apply to probate property insurance will likely include the following;-

Heating – for a specific period of the year the property will need to be heated to a certain temperature, often 12degreesC 24/7, or the water turned off at the mains and the entire water system drained down. In the event of a claim, the insurer will want evidence that this condition was complied with. For example, if there was escape of water following a frozen pipe in a cold spell over winter, the insurer will want to see the utility bill for that period relating to heating to prove that the heating was turned on.

Security – Some insurers will require a specific level of security, which could include window locks on all ground floor and accessible upper floor windows plus 5 lever mortice deadlocks conforming to BS3621 on the exit doors along with other requirements relating to patio doors, upvc doors. Other insurers simply make it a condition that all security in the property is used and have no specific requirements about the type of locks. There must be locks on the doors and at least working catches on the windows of course.

Inspection – An insurer will likely have a requirement for the property to be inspected at intervals specified by them. This will often be every 7, 14 or 30 days depending on the time of year. In addition to carrying out the inspections the person responsible for the inspections will need to write of log of who inspected the property and when. The purpose of the inspections is twofold, firstly to ensure the property is secure and watertight. The second is to identify any problems and then deal with the immediately. It is usually a condition the log is made available to the insurer or loss adjuster in the event of a claim.

Probate property insurance quotation

The intention of this article is to give general information about the pitfalls of standard home insurance when a property is empty and the benefits of a specialist unoccupied property insurance policy. Before taking any action, make sure you read your own policy to see what does, and doesn’t apply to you. If you want a chat about the cover and how we can help you please give us a call on 01903 791340




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