Probate house insurance is a specialist type of home insurance for unoccupied buildings.
In this post we’ll explain what probate house insurance is, what it covers, and the specific difference between an “occupied” and an “unoccupied” property.
What is Probate House Insurance?
Probate is the legal right to manage someone’s estate (their property, money and possessions) after they pass away. During the probate process, the deceased’s property will usually remain empty for an extended period. Probate house insurance is specialist cover for unoccupied properties, usually to cover periods of 30 days or more.
You can find out more from the government guidance on applying for probate.
What To Do After a Parent Passes Away
When a close friend or relative such as a parent passes away, you might have to deal with their home. You might wonder what to do about insuring their home and their contents.
This is where probate insurance comes in. As soon as you can, advise your insurer, or your insurance broker, about the situation.
If you’re the executor of the deceased’s will, you have a legal right to place continued cover. But if not, you must ask the executor – often a solicitor – to arrange cover.
Do You Need Specialist Home Insurance for Unoccupied Homes?
Often the answer will be yes, because most standard home insurance policies only apply to “occupied” homes. And by “occupied”, they usually mean that there are people currently inhabiting the home – whether that’s the homeowner or tenants.
Many standard home insurance policies are voided if the home is unoccupied for a certain period. And a home is considered “unoccupied” if there are currently no people living there. Some home insurance policies will be voided if the home’s unoccupied for more than 60 days. But others will be voided if the home’s unoccupied for as little as 30 days.
Other home insurance policies may allow for extended periods of the home being unoccupied. However, after a set period of time, they may only cover for fire, lightning, earthquake, explosion, and aircraft damage (FLEEA). So even in this case, a standard home insurance policy isn’t going to give you full cover.
Do I Need Probate Home Insurance?
During probate, as you work to manage the deceased’s estate, their home may be unoccupied for many weeks, or even months. So a standard home insurance policy won’t apply, as it will be voided after 30-60 days of the property being unoccupied, or it will no longer provide full cover after a certain period.
This is why you need specialist home insurance throughout the lengthy probate proceedings. It will cover the gaps in cover that might arise with a standard home insurance policy.
Do I Still Need Probate House Insurance If the Property is Occupied?
If the house is in the deceased’s name, then you likely will need probate house insurance to take this into account even if you’ll continue to occupy the property. However, having the property occupied may help reduce the cost.
What Does Probate House Insurance Cover?
Probate house insurance will cover properties for damage while they remain unoccupied. Most probate house insurance policies will require executors to periodically inspect the property for damage and break-ins. Some insurers will specify one inspection a week, or one every other week. Others might only require one inspection every 30 days.
Thieves are more likely to target unoccupied homes, as they know they’ll be able to break in undisturbed. Unoccupied homes are also vulnerable to damage, such as from vandals, or from unaddressed water leaks.
Also, as probate is a short-term situation, many insurers offer probate home insurance on a pro rata basis. This means that executors only have to pay for the cover they need.
Finally, some insurers will allow executors to transfer their probate home insurance policy to a standard home insurance policy – a useful situation if the deceased home owner leaves their property to a relative in their will.
Keeping Your Valuables Safe
As well as covering the building itself, some probate house insurance policies can also provide cover for the possessions stored within an unoccupied home. This level of cover is essential if the deceased has high value items as part of their estate.
Other specialist forms of home insurance can provide cover for valuables, whether your home’s occupied or unoccupied. For example, you can specify high risk items in your content insurance. You might also wish to mention a safety deposit box or a home safe when arranging your home insurance.
We can also provide risk management advice to ensure that your valuable possessions stay out of harm’s way. Get in touch with us on 0208 8290 9086 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.