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My parents have moved to a care home. How does this affect their home insurance?

Home Insurance

By Joanne Lemna | June 29, 2016

You were raised in the family home. You learned to walk there learned to ride a bike in the driveway and eventually parked your first car in the family garage. These days however your time is taken up more with sorting out how to protect everything your parents worked so hard to build. That’s because your parents finally moved out of the family house and into a care home—a facility that lets them keep their independence while offering day-to-day assistance.

Yet despite all the advantages this type of move can be stressful for both parent and child and quite often involves some difficult conversations. Should you sell their home now that they’re no longer living in it? Or rent it out? Or leave it empty just in case? For most leaving the family home empty while your parents live in a care home often means finding ways to protect their single-largest asset.

Thankfully a quick call to your insurance broker can provide you with many of the necessary details. For instance if they’ve been made aware many insurance providers will honour a home insurance policy claim even if the home is vacant as long a reliable friend or relative checks up on the home once every 48 hours (sometimes this can be extended to every 72 hours but check with your insurance provider first). If you opt for this route just be sure to keep a logbook —a written record of each visit and house check-in. Also get used to checking the pipes gas and hydro service. For instance turning on taps throughout the house to make sure there are no leaks or using a multimeter to check each electrical socket. Just remember you’re responsible for verifying whether or not there’s an issue with the home. Keeping a log of your checks then becomes an easy way for your insurance company to expedite a claim should damage or loss occur.

But for many adult children, the constant need to check in on the house can be hard to manage. Perhaps you have your own family obligations or work responsibilities or you live too far away to provide this service. This is when you need to discuss your options with your parent’s home insurance broker. But given that most insurance policies will lapse or reduce cover after 30 or 60 days of vacancy it’s important to speak to your insurance broker.

For instance, one option may be to pay for unoccupied property insurance.  This insurance won’t cover certain types of damage such as burst pipes but may cover other catastrophic losses such as fire. Quite often unoccupied property insurance coverage won’t cover the cost of replacing all the belongings inside but it will cover the cost of rebuilding the home.

Whatever your reason as soon as your parents agree to move into a care home call your independent insurance broker. A quick call can help you understand your options responsibilities and coverage and whether or not you need to make some necessary changes.

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