When a loved one passes away, their homeowners’ and auto insurance policies probably aren’t at the top of your list of concerns. Insurance companies understand that, which is why they typically give families 30 days to notify them of a policy holder’s death.
Nonetheless, there are some things you need to keep in mind to prevent violating the terms of the coverage. Further, you should make sure that these policies aren’t in danger of being canceled. That could happen if your loved one neglected their premiums towards the end.
Homeowners’ insurance coverage
If your loved one left behind a spouse who co-owned the home, they typically just need to provide a copy of the death certificate for the policy to continue in their name. However, if they were widowed or otherwise unmarried, the insurer needs to know if the home is vacant.
A vacant home is more likely to be a target for theft or vandalism than a lived-in home. There’s also a greater likelihood of serious damage if it’s not being regularly maintained or at least watched. That means the premiums will be higher.
Even if you don’t know what’s ultimately going to happen with the home, it’s crucial to notify the insurer of the death as soon as possible. If you don’t, or you try to hide the fact that it’s vacant, you could invalidate the policy.
If your loved one owned a car, it’s important to understand who is and isn’t covered by their insurance when driving it. For example, the executor of the estate may be covered if they take the car to a local repair shop for maintenance.
However, it’s not wise to let a relative who flies in from the east coast for the funeral drive it around town in lieu of renting a car. They will likely not be covered if they’re involved in a crash. That’s true even if it’s an adult child who always drove the car when they were back home visiting.
It will take some time to settle the estate and retitle any assets that have been left to family members or others. Insurance companies understand that. Your loved one’s insurance agent can be a valuable source of information. It’s wise to contact them as soon as possible and keep a record of your contacts with them. It’s also wise to have legal guidance.