Car parked in driveway © iStock

Dear Insurance Adviser,

Recently, my dad passed away. Home and auto insurance policies are still in his name. Would his home and car still be covered, even though the house is unoccupied and the car isn’t being used? The home is still furnished; the vehicle was damaged prior to my dad’s death but was never claimed by him because of his sickness and inability to file a claim. Thanks.

— Mike

Dear Mike,

Yes, the home and auto insurance policies in your dad’s name will still cover claims involving his house and car.

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However, I recommend that you take these actions to avoid possible problems later:

  • Notify your dad’s insurance agent of his death and see what requirements his auto and home insurance companies have for continuing the policies.
  • Although his car is not currently being driven, maintain liability coverage on the vehicle in case it needs servicing or is being test-driven by a prospective buyer. If anyone will be using the car on a long-term basis, notify your father’s insurance company. Many automobile policies cover only the insured’s legal representative (executor), and then just for driving to and from getting the car serviced.
  • If you know the details of how your dad’s car got damaged and the approximate date when that happened, get a repair estimate. If the estimate exceeds your dad’s deductible, go ahead and file a claim. Although you’d be in violation of one of the policy conditions, requiring prompt reporting of accidents, I’m sure the adjuster will take your father’s failing health into account.
  • As for the house, there generally are no exclusions or limitations on homeowners insurance coverage for unoccupied homes. But coverage reductions can be significant if a home is vacant of all furniture. So, be sure to keep enough furniture in the house that would allow someone to live there.
  • To reduce the risk of burglary, vandalism and fire at the home, install a central station monitored alarm.

Good luck!

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