Insurance Issues With An Inherited Home In Florida
With the passing of a parent or grandparent comes a tremendous amount of grief, sadness, and – unfortunately – work. There are the customary tasks most people and their families consider, such as making funeral arrangements, settling financial affairs, and starting the probate process.
Often, there is also a home passed on to heirs. As family members are notified of the home’s status and review what needs to be done next, it is easy to forget about homeowner’s insurance on the property. This matter can be complex and frustrating – especially to those who were unaware the insurance issue needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible. While the home may pass on to the family, the home’s insurance policy does not necessarily transfer with it.
There is a legitimate risk that when a homeowner dies, the existing insurance policy can lapse if premium payments aren’t made and the insurer isn’t notified of the change in the home’s status. While updating the homeowner’s insurance policy may seem like a low priority when dealing with estate administration and other pressing issues, the risks of ignoring the insurance status can be tremendous.
For example, if a storm damages the property, or someone is injured on the premises, the home’s new owners can be left with full financial responsibility for the event. If the property insurance policy has lapsed, or there is any confusion whatsoever regarding the insurance policy’s status, an insurer may deny any claim for payment under the policy. This could make an already sad situation worse for the heirs of a departed loved one.
There are some key steps, however, a family can take to avoid lapsed insurance after a death:
- Carefully review the home’s insurance policy and premium payment history, if possible. You want to know, at minimum, what the property insurance policy covers, and what its terms are. The policy will also provide you with important contact information so you can reach the insurance company and make necessary updates.
- Call the insurance agent and advise them of the situation. They may need a death certificate for their records, and will likely need to know the name of the deceased’s personal representative if the policy is to remain open.
- Keep paying the premiums, if the policy is still active. Some insurers may allow you to continue paying on the existing policy until its renewal date. It is crucial not to let payments lapse and risk cancellation of the policy.
- Maintain the property. Even if no heirs are residing at the property, you or your family members must continue to look after the property and keep it habitable. Neglecting a home can increase the risk of fire, flooding due to plumbing issues, or other damage – especially vandalism of unoccupied properties.
For Florida homes, there may also be vegetation that needs to be trimmed outside and a pool that must be maintained at a minimal level. If an insurer sees that a house has been neglected and essentially abandoned, they may cancel a policy even if payments were being made.
- Consider new homeowner’s insurance policies. You may need to do this immediately, if the policy is at risk of cancellation due to the policyholder’s death. Even if you have time to look into policies, the sooner you do this, the better. As Florida homeowner’s insurance rates continue to rise, it helps to start your homework early and find the most reasonable policy for the property.
When to Call a Property Insurance Attorney
Even though you and your family are grieving, the insurance company still has a business to run, and sometimes this means they will cancel a policy, deny a claim, or raise some other issue that creates problems with the home. In these situations, it is wise to turn to the help of an experienced Florida property insurance attorney that can negotiate with insurers when possible, or take them to court when needed.
Our Daytona, Florida Property Damage Attorneys Can Help With Insurance Problems on Inherited Homes
At Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A., we understand the issues you and your family may be going through after inheriting a property – especially the issues that you may face with an insurance company at the same time. It is not uncommon to deal with delayed claims, denied claims, canceled policies, or other issues with insurers after a homeowner’s death. When help is needed, we are there for you. Call our Daytona law offices at 386-252-5170 or contact our Daytona Beach property damage attorneys online to request a consultation today.