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Insuring an empty property after someone has died (2024 Update)

Empty property after someone has died
12 February 2024

By UKinsuranceNET In Unoccupied Property Advice

When someone dies, the house in which they have been living is likely to become unoccupied. The property may remain empty throughout the period of probate – during which the eventual disposal of the home is determined in accordance with the deceased person’s will.

Because the executor or executors of the deceased have a duty to safeguard and protect the assets of the estate – including property – adequate insurance needs to be arranged during this period.

This is where Unoccupied House Insurance becomes a necessity.

How do you insure a property in probate?

It might be possible to transfer any existing Home Insurance into the name of the deceased’s surviving spouse. As often as not, however, insurers are likely to insist upon an entirely new insurance policy.

Even when a simple transfer has been made, however, there is a further consideration to be taken into account if the property is going to be left vacant and unoccupied during the probate period.

Insurance for the unoccupied house with the owner deceased needs to replace any existing Home Insurance. Once the property has been empty for more than a number of consecutive days, restrictions and exclusions apply to the level of cover offered by standard Home Insurance.

How long can a house be left unoccupied?

Some insurers may impose those restrictions after 60 days (for example, home insurer Direct Line requires Unoccupied Home Insurance after the property has been empty for 60 or more days). Other insurers will restrict the cover after 30 to 45 consecutive days.

The reason for such a response from insurers is the simple fact that an unoccupied property is exposed to greater risks than one in which someone is at home on a more or less continuous basis:

  • A minor fault may develop into a serious and damaging incident if there is no one there to spot what has happened in time; and
  • An empty property attracts all manner of unwanted attention, from the likes of burglars, arsonists, squatters, vandals and other intruders.

With normal cover restricted – or in some cases, allowed to lapse altogether – Unoccupied Property Insurance restores the protection that the building and its contents still need.

You can read more about unoccupied property insurance here.

What Unoccupied Home Insurance covers

Insurance for property that is left unoccupied after the former owner dies continues to ensure that the principal elements of protection are maintained. That is to say, Unoccupied Home Insurance provides:

  • Buildings Insurance to protect the structure and fabric of the building itself;
  • Contents Insurance protecting against the risks of theft, loss or damage to the contents; and
  • Public Liability Insurance as indemnity against claims from visitors, neighbours or members of the public who suffer an injury or have their own property damaged through contact with the deceased’s empty property – even those trespassers who may have entered the house illegally.

Does unoccupied Home Insurance provide flexible cover?

Just as the process of probate may take an indefinite and indeterminate period of time, so too does unoccupied property insurance need to reflect that fact.

Fortunately, unoccupied property insurance for the deceased’s former home is typically flexible enough to cope with the vagaries of time before the completion of probate. If needs be, short-term or temporary cover may be arranged and extended on a month-by-month basis – rather than having to pay for a full 12 months of cover as most other insurance policies are likely to insist.

Frequently asked questions about Unoccupied House Insurance during probate

If you are an executor of an estate, you will no doubt have many questions. Not least about your responsibilities and, in particular, about organising unoccupied home insurance following the death of a loved one. So we have set out to answer some of your most frequently asked questions about unoccupied house insurance to help boost your knowledge in this area.

What happens to an insurance policy when the owner dies?

Typically, the insurance policy can be transferred to the name of the executor(s) until probate has been granted. Of course, depending on how long the property is likely to remain empty, an unoccupied house insurance policy may need to be taken out to provide adequate cover in the intervening period.

Once the estate has been finalised, the new owner can take out home insurance in their own name.

Who pays for empty house insurance during probate?

During probate, payment for empty house insurance can sometimes be taken from the deceased’s estate – a process that is usually arranged by the executor or their solicitor – or, failing that, a family member will need to foot the bill.

Can I insure a house as executor of a will?

Yes. It is common practice for executors of a will to arrange unoccupied home insurance while a loved one’s estate is being finalised. As long as you can prove that you, as the executor, have an ‘insurable interest’ in the property, an unoccupied house insurance policy will typically be issued in your name.

Often, other beneficiaries can also be named as additional policyholders.

Are executors legally liable for the deceased’s property?

The main responsibilities of an executor are to administer the deceased’s estate in accordance with their wishes. That means that you are legally liable for protecting their assets, including any property they have left behind.

For that reason, it is vitally important that you take out adequate unoccupied house insurance in a timely fashion to ensure you are meeting all your obligations as the executor of an estate.

For more information, check out our Unoccupied Insurance page for some frequently asked questions and answers.

Why choose UKinsuranceNET for Unoccupied House Insurance?

At UKinsuranceNET, we are specialist brokers of empty home insurance. We understand that there is no ‘one-size fits-all’ solution – particularly when it comes to the often lengthy and complicated processes of administering someone’s estate.

This is why we offer a wide range of empty house insurance policies to suit your particular circumstances, the nature of the property, and the length of time you expect it to remain empty.

With personalised customer service, backed by a total of 20 years of experience in this specialist area of property insurance, you can be confident of finding the empty home insurance you need from one of the UK’s leading UK insurers.

For further reassurance, why not read our verified independent customer reviews? With a 4.7 star rating from nearly 4,000 independently verified reviews, plenty of satisfied customers have trusted their probate insurance with us.

Click here for a quote or call us on 01325 346328 for advice.

NB: This blog was first published in November 2020 and has since been updated to provide the most accurate and up-to-date information available.

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