Can You Insure a House You Don’t Own? Understanding Your Options

In most cases, you can only insure a house if you own it. However, even if you aren't the homeowner, there are ways to ensure the property is protected.

Several situations might require you to insure a home you don’t own or live in. To have your name on a home insurance policy, you must have an insurable interest in the property.

What is Insurable Interest?

In insurance terms, having an insurable interest means you would suffer financially if the property or its contents were damaged, lost, or destroyed. This is a key requirement for obtaining home insurance.

Key Points to Remember

  • Insurable Interest: You can insure a property you don’t own if you have an insurable interest in it, meaning you’d be financially impacted if the property or its contents were damaged or lost.
  • Renters: If you’re renting, you should insure your contents. Buildings insurance is the landlord's responsibility.
  • Buying a Property: Home insurance is not needed until the date you exchange contracts.

When Can You Insure Someone Else’s House?

Most home insurance policies are purchased by homeowners. However, there are instances when you might need to insure someone else’s home:

  • During the Buying Process: Even before the sale is complete, mortgage lenders require buildings insurance by the time you exchange contracts.
  • After a Death: If a policyholder dies, their home insurance becomes invalid. Executors of the will can extend the policy or obtain probate home insurance until probate is complete.
  • On Behalf of Others: You can buy home insurance for someone else, but the homeowner’s details must be on the policy, and they will receive any payouts.
  • As a Landlord: Landlords must insure the building's structure, while tenants are responsible for insuring their belongings.

Types of Home Insurance for Properties You Don’t Own

There are two main types of home insurance:

  • Buildings Insurance: Covers the structure of the building, including repair and rebuilding costs. This is typically available only to homeowners or those about to own the property.
  • Contents Insurance: Protects the possessions inside the home from damage, loss, or theft. You can take out contents insurance whether you own the property or not.

These policies can be purchased separately or combined if you qualify for both.

Home Insurance for Rented Properties

If you live in rented accommodation, your landlord is responsible for buildings insurance, which covers structural damage from events like flooding and fire. However, this does not cover your personal belongings.

  • Tenants Insurance: A type of contents insurance that protects your belongings in rented properties. It covers unexpected damage or theft and can also cover accidental damage to your landlord’s items.

Changing an Existing Home Insurance Policy

Generally, you cannot change an existing home insurance policy unless you have the policyholder’s permission. It might be possible to add your name to a policy if you’re married to the policyholder or hold a joint mortgage with them, but the insurer must be contacted directly for this change. There may be an admin fee, and it could affect the premium cost.

Home Insurance When Exchanging Contracts

When buying a house, you become legally responsible for it upon exchanging contracts, even though you won't get the keys until the sale completes. The seller is responsible for buildings insurance until contracts are exchanged. Afterward, it's your responsibility.

  • Mortgage Requirement: Most mortgage lenders require buildings insurance before the sale is finalised. Even if not required, it’s advisable to get it, as the seller is not obligated to keep the property insured once contracts are exchanged.
  • Leasehold Properties: If the property is leasehold, check with the freeholder about their buildings cover and if it's included in the service charge. Ensure you have enough time to arrange your own cover if needed.

By understanding these scenarios, you can ensure a property is protected even if you aren’t the homeowner.

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