Unoccupied House Insurance
Unoccupied house insurance covers when the house is empty for more than 30 days in a row. Unoccupied house insurance is different from a standard house insurance policy. The company providing standard house insurance may stop its policy in the event of a house or property is no longer occupied. It would help if you had unoccupied house insurance in the following circumstance. An owner moving to a care home; is back in with family members or there is a gap in tenancy. It would help if you also had unoccupied house insurance after the owner's death. This is when that property is in probate. The insurance can also be beneficial where an owner is working abroad. Unoccupied insurance can provide a significant benefit where the property is going through a renovation or conveyancing process. In these circumstances, the mortgage provider requires an owner to make final arrangements. Therein, owners have to make sure they have unoccupied house insurance in place.
What does unoccupied house insurance cover?
Proper unoccupied house insurance should cover both the building and its contents. The policy should cover protections against the following:
- Typical, malicious damage;
- Risks of fire;
- Disasters caused by aircraft;
- Escape of water or oil;
- Source of the leak;
- Fallen trees;
- Temporarily fix burst pipes;
- Roof damage;
- Renovations for building work;
- Property owner’s liability;
- Tree felling or lopping;
- Loss of keys;
- Breakage of glass;
- Damage to locks or attempted theft.
The policy should cover clauses on what will happen with the legal expenses. These legal expenses can be huge in the event of a breach of contract during the sales transaction. You may also face the cost of pursuing nuisance and trespass claims. So you should make sure your policy offers protection for that.
The role of a solicitor in unoccupied house insurance and probate?
To arrange unoccupied house insurance, there are various conflicting perspectives. In this regard, the role of solicitor and executor’s responsibilities are separate. Understandably, it is a challenging time for the executor to take care of such matters. Despite the circumstances, they have solemn duties. Making sure appropriate insurance is in place is one of them. Solicitors can help in making sure the property has protection in place. They can assist in reviewing the documents if they cover the correct value of the property. The documents must provide all the relevant protections, and there is no ambiguity in the clauses. This is not easy to complete unless solicitor has all the necessary information. In reviewing the policy, the executor must provide the solicitor with the correct information. Failure to do so can lead to severe mistakes. It is clear if there are risks to the contents or structure of the property, solicitors are not liable. Thus, it is executor’s responsibility to identify the areas for the protection of a house.
For unoccupied house insurance, an insurance company must be able to demonstrate:
- Expertise and experience in the insurance market for empty houses;
- Experience of working with the solicitors, landlords and conveyancers;
- Experience of dealing with insurance matters for public bodies and private clients;
- They have dealt with commercial properties or landowners in concluding appropriate insurance;
- They understand worries, concerns and responsibilities of the executor;
- They are aware of insurance complications and the probate process;
- They are empathetic towards different clients’ situations;
- They understand clients facing challenges when an owner does not have capacity;
- They can clarify if the property has immediate insurance in place;
- If inspection required, the time or period covered by the insurance;
- The flexible approach during the probate process;
Service available for the provision of access to a 24/7 home emergency helpline.
The above-highlighted elements are subject to further advice and guidance. We strongly recommend the property owners to consult with the legal team before embarking on finalising on appropriate unoccupied house insurance. Individual circumstances are always different, and therefore the requirement to take relevant actions may vary. It is still important to seek clarification from an expert before deciding on the right way forward. Our solicitors have decades of experience in providing right advice and guidance to the property owners on all sorts of property-related matters. For more information, a quote or for an informal conversation with one of our legal advisers, please use the contact us form at the bottom of this website.