THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2015
When the named insured for Ohio car and homeowners insurance policies dies, there is often a lot of confusion as to what happens next. Following are the steps we take at our office when we receive notification that an insured has died.
The initial notification about the deceased
When we get the phone call, it's usually the spouse or the executor of the estate (if both the insured and spouse are now gone). If it's the surviving spouse, it's a bit easier to handle. If the resident spouse is not specifically listed as an insured in the Named Insured location, we add that person. The Named Insured is offered the benefit of the policy, as well as granted the authority to make changes, etc. Once the First Named Insured is gone, then the policy is in limbo. Specifically naming the spouse squares things away.
If both the insured and spouse are gone, then the executor is usually the one who makes the phone call. The executor has the authority to make decisions concerning the deceased's estate, which would include any personal property and policies covering that property.
We ask for the appropriate paperwork naming the person as executor, since due to privacy and confidentiality issues, we can't disclose information to just anyone. Then we can move forward.
We also ask what is going to happen with the property we're insuring (house, car, boat, etc.). For homes, we need to know answers to these questions: is it for sale, is it vacant, is it going to be rented? These are not all the questions for sure, but a good start. A homeowners policy is designed to protect the homeowner who lives in the house and his or her property. When the homeowner is gone, that is no longer the correct policy to use.
For a vehicle, we need to know what is going to happen with the car. Is someone driving it now, is it going to be sold or given away, etc. If it's being driven by someone else, we need to know and often must add that person as a driver on the policy. Adding the new driver is also a smart move because it protects the estate should there be an accident- no undisclosed drivers for an insurance company to possibly deny a claim. We don't want to give any company an out.
Next we contact the insurance company
Once we know the details as to what is going to happen to the property, the next call is to the underwriter. The insurance company gets to make the final decision as to what will happen to the policies and when, but agents help by providing the details.
Any of the following situations can occur:
- The insurance company can cancel the policy (Ohio state law requires 30 days + mailing time).
- The insurance company can agree to continue with the policy until the next renewal. This means they will non-renew as of the renewal date. Additional surcharges may apply, such as a vacancy surcharge if the house is vacant.
- The insurance company may allow the policy to be re-written. Again, depends on the situation.
Depending on the situation, the insurance agent can make or break the deal- for example, a long time customer may be looked at more favorably or in the event of an empty property, be allowed to insure a vacant property until renewal if a family member or friend agrees to make regular checks of the house. When we get the full story, then we have more with which to make our case. And we do.
We're here during the difficult times. Contact us or request your quote today! We'd love to help.
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