Now is a good time for probate practitioners to think ahead and consider the risks of probate properties which are likely to sit unoccupied through the winter.
The changing season, combined with ongoing delays in obtaining probate (government figures have revealed that delays are now at their worst since 2019) and a slower housing market, suggest that a comparatively high proportion of probate properties will remain empty for longer.
For obvious reasons, unoccupied residential properties are considered high risk by insurers. Potential risks include criminal damage such as arson; burglary; flooding, burst pipes and water damage; electrical faults; fire risks; and structural disrepair.
Given that the deceased’s home is often the most valuable asset in the estate, it is vital for the PRs to take robust steps to protect it ahead of a sale or transfer. If they fail to do so, they could be made personally liable to the estate if a loss is suffered.
Effective unoccupied property insurance
While any existing buildings insurance on the property may be adequate and effective, at least for the short term, most insurers will withdraw cover after a short period of time (or impose additional conditions, such as regular inspection of the property and isolating water and electricity supplies and sealing letter boxes).
Some insurers are more flexible than others, and the individual policy terms and conditions should be checked to avoid any risk of a claim being refused because of a failure to comply with the terms.
The best form of insurance cover for empty probate properties is a policy designed specifically for unoccupied properties. Practice Enterprise’s own unoccupied property insurance product, designed with Watchman Insurance, is designed precisely for this purpose. It is highly cost-effective and simple to arrange.
This policy covers the risk of residential properties left unoccupied because the previous owner has died, or may be moving into a care or residential setting. Unlike many policies for unoccupied properties, Watchman’s policy include cover for risks including malicious damage and for subsidence.
Why is our Watchman unoccupied property insurance policy particularly worth considering? Several features make it stand out from the competition, for instance, many other insurers require payment of the premium upfront. For some estates, that could be impractical.
No upfront premium is required for the Watchman policy - simply a small initial deposit. The full policy premium is not paid until the property is sold or transferred (or up to 12 months later).
The policy is also simple and straightforward to set up; it can usually be secured the same day with the initial deposit. There is also transparency as far as fees are concerned: executors will find no hidden charges or cancellation fees. And cover is calculated at a fixed daily rate.
You can get more information and a quote by contacting Practice Enterprise here