Insuring an empty house after death
Created 19 Nov 2021 - William Bunker
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.
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.
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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
Can you 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 insurance for an unoccupied property, also called empty house insurance.
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.