Insuring an empty house after death

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By Wajahat Raja
Wajahat Raja
Wajahat Raja Insurance Expert

Wajahat is an accomplished writer with a drive for finance and content creation. He has an MSc in Accounting and Finance from the University of Northampton. He has a keen interest in exploring a variety of topics like subjects insurance, private equity, and investment banking. His work demonstrates his passion for writing informational pieces which make him an asset in the field of finance

Expertise: Finance, Insurance, Home Insurance, Public Liability
from the MultiQuoteTime Editorial Team August 2023

When it comes to home insurance, there is always a policy that applies in the event of the homeowner's death. As is the tradition, a probate period applies, in which the ultimate disposal of the home is determined. Suppose the deceased property was insured already; there is always a likelihood of transferring the home insurance policy to the surviving spouse, though not guaranteed. That said, a different scenario could arise in which the house left by the deceased remains unoccupied. 

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how to insure an empty house after death uk

Is it possible to insure an empty house after death? This article aims to inform you that any existing home insurance may quickly become invalid and why you will need to consider short term unoccupied house insurance to protect the property. 

Key Takeaway  Notify the home insurer provider of the policyholder's death as soon as possible, this should be done for all insurance polices held in the name of the deceased. Next, arrange house probate insurance with the existing insurance provider or a new provider.

Can the Executor of the Will Insure the House?

An executor can insurance the house of the deceased, see the executor check list for more information.

What is Empty House Insurance?

A home insurance policy applies to a home that remains occupied. However, there are isolated situations that could invalidate such a policy. A typical case is one in which the home remains empty after the owner's death. Similarly, if you own one or two properties and leave one unoccupied for consecutive days, home insurance fails to take effect. Here is where the unoccupied home insurance comes into effect. Unoccupied home insurance is a type of policy that protects your residential property when you leave it unoccupied for long periods. Note that the policy also covers unoccupied commercial properties. Other factors that could leave your property unoccupied aren't limited to

  • Property renovations
  • Having a property on sale
  • A lack of tenants

What is Probate?

Probate is the period of time during which the will of the deceased is "proved". Proved is an acronym for proving it is indeed a valid will and true testament of the deceased. For most this is a simple process, but if the will is put in dispute by a third party it can become protracted and drawn out. A special cover termed probate house insurance is available to provide cover during the probate period. 

Who Offers Probate Insurance?

Most insurance brokers are able to provide probate insurance, some of UK insurance companies that are associated as providers of probate polices and costs include, those listed below, but do compare other providers:  

  • Admiral probate insurance
  • LV probate insurance
  • Saga probate insurance
  • AXA probate insurance

Can I Insure a Deceased Person's House?

If you inherit a house, the one time owners' policy does NOT automatically transfer to you, and you will need to take out your own policy. If you are not intending to live in the property, or it will be vacant for 30 days plus, you will need to take out probate house insurance for an unoccupied property, also called empty house insurance.

Can I Insure a House that is Not in my Name

The purpose of homeowners insurance is to protect a property that is in your name. If you have inherited a property that is not yet in your name, you can take out probate insurance. Speak with the current house insurance provider for further advice.

Is Unoccupied Home Insurance More Expensive?

Unoccupied house insurance is expensive, and for obvious reasons. An unoccupied property presents  additional risk to the insurer, these risks are covered in our article on short term house insurance in the UK. 

4 Steps to Insuring an Empty House after Death

Suppose you are involved in a house or a home that has been left empty after the occupant's death; there are steps you could take to insure the empty house. We talk more about each of these steps below.

1. Review current home insurance policies on the property

If the house in question has home insurance policies in place, you might be tempted to think the policies will still carry on if the house is transferred to a new owner or inheritor. On the contrary, that is not what happens depending on the insurance company you are dealing with. You will need to check with the insurance department on what policies work for the house's current status. If the house was under a normal house insurance policy, this becomes null and void.

2. Seek an unoccupied home insurance policy

You are likely to transfer any home insurance policies to ones that cover an empty house, usually referred to as unoccupied house insurance. For any changes to policy involving a deceased person, there has to be evidence of death through the provision of a death certificate. You will also need to confirm the person entitled to make the changes with proper documentation. Also, check on the possibility of the insurance policies being issued by different companies.

3. Reach out to your Home Insurance Company

After you have done due diligence on the property's current policies and have ascertained that it's unoccupied, what next? You will need to reach out to a home insurance company and advise them on the next step. The current insurer may choose to continue with their service or opt-out of the cover. If the latter happens, you will need to shop for a new policy. Before signing or agreeing to a new policy, read the terms and conditions to understand the details. Beware that you will be required to meet certain conditions that come with the policy, such as frequent house visits and high-standard locks.

4. Secure the Home

Having unoccupied insurance cover does not get you done with insuring the empty house yet. Unoccupied houses are always a target by burglars, which means you will need to secure the property. There is a need to make temporary arrangements on the property until a long-term plan is in place. We list below some action steps to ensure the empty house is secure.

  • Ensure the property is safe with all windows locked. The locks should be standard on all doors and windows.
  • You should collect posts often to ensure they don't mount appearing out of the mailbox. Preferably, identify a trusted neighbour or friend who can collect posts that pop out.
  • Put the light on a timer, especially during winter that is characterized by shorter daylight hours.
  • Leave your contact details with a neighbour you trust should there be any malicious or suspicious activity around the property. They can conduct regular checks around the house.
  • Cancel any available deliveries to the property, such as milk deliveries and daily newspapers.
  • Keep the driveway and garden tidy to create the impression that the house is occupied. You could hire a gardener to do this once in a while.

Probate House Insurance FAQ's

Can you insure a house in probate?

Yes, a specialist insurance is available to provide cover during probate.

What happens to house insurance when someone dies?

In most cases house insurance will terminate on the death of the policyholder, this is also true of most other insurance polices including car and home contents. Some providers may give a grace period of 30 days, others may let the policy continue until the expiration date, but you need to check direct with the insurance provider.

The best advice is to make immediate contact with the insurance provider to arrange temporary cover if required.

Can an executor insure a house?

Yes, Probate insurance is designed to provide cover for a property during the probate period. As an executor of the will, you are responsible for insuring that the property is insured. 

Can a beneficiary insure a property?

If the property is not yet in your name, you will need specialist probate insurance. This can be arranged by the Solicitor or the executor of the will, contact them for conformation. 

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