Skip to content
Home » Probate: unoccupied property – do I need house insurance?

Probate: unoccupied property – do I need house insurance?

The most important duty executors are required to fulfill is to ensure that the estate of the deceased is protected properly during administration of the estate until it can be divided among beneficiaries. What is the procedure if the estate of the deceased includes the property? What is the most important aspect of home insurance? be? In short, very important. Relying on cover that is already in place or not insuring assets in a proper manner can have grave consequences.

It is crucial that the assets of the estate are protected. Executors who fail to ensure this is done can be held personally accountable for any loss suffered by the estate in the event that it is determined that they did not ensure the proper care was taken in ensuring the property was properly insured.

Practical steps

If you’ve been appointed executor, and the estate contains the property (which is currently vacant) you must:
Contact the insurers currently in place for information about the changes in conditions and determine if the current policy is sufficient to provide protection.

If an estate contains an unoccupied house, and it was later abandoned it alters the status of insurance and it is advisable to avoid taking a reliance on an existing policy. Although the deceased may have been insured adequately of the home, when it is an unoccupied house, insurers will need to ensure that the policy is either revised or a new one bought.

Take note of the coverage of any newly or amended policy

Although an insurer may offer coverage, it’s possible that the price will be greater. Additionally, it is likely that the coverage will be limited. Insurance companies have a tendency to limit the damage to property that is not occupied to damage caused by lightning, fire or aircraft, as well as explosions. What is this to you? If your property was such as a burglary or vandalised, your insurance would not be able to cover. If this happens, you as executor, you could be held responsible for the costs of repairs, or any variation in the value of the property.

If the insurer offers complete coverage, they could make you subject to a string of conditions as executor. Most insurers offer comprehensive insurance for homes that aren’t occupied are required to conduct regular (e.g. fortnightly) inspections. In the event of a failure to comply, it could cause the claim to be rejected. When the home is currently on the market, the estate agent could assist you (for cost, possibly) however, as the executor you are responsible to make sure that the terms in the policy being complied to.

Any new or amended policy must be signed by the names of executors. The executors’ interest being “noted” does not automatically give them the right to submit claims or get the benefits of any claim-related proceeds payable under the policy. It could mean they are informed if the policy has been cancelled or expired.

Make sure you choose the best insurer

It is essential to carefully evaluate the probate house insurance provider you’re using and whether they are experienced in the field with probate properties. Some specialize in probate insurance and could be more knowledgeable about the obligations that come with being an executor.

Be aware of (increased) premiums for insurance

In the event that your estate’s assets are cash-limited there could be issues with the payment of the premium. An insurance company that is specialist may permit an amount of time during which the unoccupancy clauses will not be in effect or permit delayed payment of the premium until funds are received from the estate.

Do some sensible steps

Some practical steps to take include: Making sure that the house is secured and safe; shutting off unneeded utilities; taking away valuable items for secure storage until they can be given to beneficiaries and keeping a log of the items; frequently making a visit to check on the property, and collecting the post (or request a trusted neighbor to watch the property) Also, consider making sure that the lights (on on a timer) and heating turned on during the winter seasons.
Get legal advice on the subject of the administration of your estate If you haven’t already taken this step.

Additional details

To find out more about the topics covered on this blog you can contact us immediately.