If you have been left a house in someone’s will, your thoughts are likely to turn to the need for the appropriate form of insurance to protect it against the risks of loss or damage.
Once ownership of the property actually passes to you, you have a clear insurable interest and may arrange whatever insurance is suitable – standard home insurance, landlord’s insurance if you intend to let the property or unoccupied property insurance if the house is to be left empty for any length of time. Because you own the property, the insurance is in your name.
Inheriting a property, however, is rarely completed so quickly or so smoothly.
There is an interim period between the death of the previous owner and your taking ownership of the property you have inherited.
This interim period is known as probate – or a “grant of representation" – and is the name given to the formal process during which all the assets of the deceased are gathered together, outstanding debts paid, the remaining property distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate.
Until that process of probate is finalised – and this often takes some time – ownership of the house you have inherited does not actually pass to you, but remains part of the deceased person’s estate.
Nevertheless, both you – as the eventual owner of the house – and the executors of the deceased’s will both have an interest or duty in ensuring that the property remains adequately insured against loss or damage with house insurance during probate cover.
Unoccupied property insurance
The knowledge base we have assembled here at UKinsuranceNET includes a number of articles about the importance of unoccupied property insurance when the house you inherited remains in the period of limbo known as probate.
One example may help to illustrate our expertise and experience in arranging the specialist type of insurance needed for such properties.
Whatever your eventual intentions for the property you have inherited, until probate is concluded, the house may be lying empty and unoccupied.
Vacant property such as this is exposed to a number of risks which increases its vulnerability to loss or damage over and above those faced by a property in more or less continuous occupation. In the case of unoccupied property, for example:
- an otherwise routine maintenance problem – such as a dripping tap – might develop into a major incident, causing untold damage, if left unattended because no one is at home; and
- an empty property acts as a magnet for all manner of unwelcome attention – from burglars to squatters and vandals to arsonists.
For that reason, specialist probate property insurance is essential for safeguarding any house you may have inherited whilst it stands empty.
Even whilst the property remains empty and ownership is still in probate, there may be claims from visitors, neighbours or other members of the public – including those who have gained entry illegally – who are injured or have their own property damaged.
Unoccupied property insurance therefore usually includes provision for indemnity against such public liability claims – typically for a sum not less than £1 million.