Homeowner’s insurance is one of the most effective ways to protect your family against the tragic losses that can occur if your house is involved in a natural disaster or other accident. In fact, 1 in 20 insured homeowners end up filing a claim every year. However, your policy does need to be updated if the named insured policyholder passes away. What do you need to know to update your homeowner’s insurance policy after your loved one is no longer here?
Contact Your Insurance Company
In the aftermath of any death in the family, many different companies need to be notified so that they can update their files accordingly. One such company is your homeowner’s insurance company. The average company requires notice within 30 days of a death, and you should be prepared to provide the insurer proof of the death. If you have the death certificate, that is always preferable. If you are unable to receive it in a timely fashion, you can provide a copy of the will, a court order, or other documentation.
Explore Your Coverage Options
Your coverage options may vary depending on whether you are a resident of the house currently, named on the policy but not the policyholder, or looking to merely protect the house until you can sell it. In some cases, you can continue paying the premium on the policy. In others, you might be required to take out a new policy. Working directly with the insurance company is the best way to ensure that you do not have an insurance lapse that may leave you unprotected.
If You’re One of the Named Insured
In the insurance world, the term ‘named insured’ refers to the person who took out the policy and received all of the protections included in the policy. The named insured can be more than one person. For example, many married couples purchasing homeowner’s insurance will have both members of the couple listed under the named insured section. Once you call the insurance company and provide proof of death, they can update their records to show you as a named insured while removing the other policyholder.
If You’re One of the Additional Insured
The additional insured section is where the policyholder can add other people. This normally happens after the policy has already begun. While the additional insured gets coverage from the policy, they are not the ones held liable for the premium amount and generally cannot make any changes to the policy. Depending on the specific terms of your policy, you may be able to transfer the current policy to your name or be required to get a new policy.
If the Named Insured and Additional Insured Are No Longer Here
If you are taking possession of a home that has a homeowner’s insurance policy that does not currently cover any living person, you will need to contact the insurance company. They will be able to update the existing policy to reflect the death of the named insured and additional insured and walk you through your options to purchase a new policy. It is critical to maintain coverage on the house, even if you are planning on selling it, as damage to the home will be your responsibility if coverage lapses for any period. Homeowner’s insurance protects the property, whether or not you are planning on living in it.
Update the Coverage
If you are taking possession of the property after your loved one’s estate has been divided, it’s critical to make sure that the coverage reflects the current house value and contents. If a lot of high-value items were distributed after death, you may not need as much coverage. Additionally, if the house was not occupied by your loved one for the few months preceding their death, the value might increase after you move yourself and your belongings into it. An insurance agent can help confirm that you have the right coverage for the space as it is now.