Can you insure a house you don't own?

Not the homeowner? You can still help to protect it. Find out when it’s possible to take out home insurance for a house you don’t own.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 3 May 2023  | 3 mins read
Reviewed by Jasmine Hembury

Can you insure a house you don’t own?

In most situations, you’ll only be able to insure a house if you own it. But even if you’re not the homeowner, it doesn’t mean you can’t make sure it’s protected.

There are several circumstances where you might want to make sure a home is insured, even if you don’t legally own it, or live in it.

However, for your name to be on a home insurance policy, you need to have what’s known as an insurable interest in the property.

In insurance law, this means you can only buy home insurance if you’d personally suffer financially if the property or its contents were to be damaged, lost or destroyed.

Key points

  • You can insure a property you don't own but you'll need to have an "insurable interest" in the property (e.g. you’d be impacted financially if the property or its contents were to be damaged, lost or destroyed.)
  • If you're renting you may want to insure your contents. You wont need buildings insurance as that's your landlords' responsibility.
  • If you're buying a property, you won't need home insurance before the date you exchange contracts.

When can you insure someone else’s house?

Most home insurance policies are bought by people who own the home. But there are a few situations when you can buy insurance for someone else’s home:

  • When you’re in the process of buying - Even before the sale is complete, your mortgage lender will require you to have taken out buildings insurance by the time you exchange contracts.
  • When someone dies - Insurers need to be notified if a policyholder dies, otherwise their home insurance becomes invalid. If you’re an executor of their will, you may be able to get the policy extended. Otherwise, you’ll need to take out specialist probate home insurance for their property until probate is complete.
  • Buying cover on behalf of someone else - It’s sometimes possible to buy home insurance for someone else. But even if you’re the one paying the premium, the legal homeowner’s name and details need to be on the policy and they’d be the recipients of any payout.
  • When you’re a landlord - As a landlord it’s your responsibility to make sure the structure of your property is protected with buildings insurance - even if you won’t be living there. It’s your tenants' responsibility to get insurance for their belongings kept in your property.

What home insurance can I buy for a property I don’t own?

There are two main types of home insurance. But which type you’ll be able to buy if you’re not the homeowner will depend on your circumstances.

Buildings insurance protects the structure of the building. It’s designed to cover the cost of repairing and rebuilding if the property gets damaged or destroyed. But it’s usually only possible to buy this cover if you’re the homeowner or are about to legally own the property.

Contents insurance covers the possessions inside the home in case they got lost, damaged, destroyed or stolen. You can take out this cover whether you own the property you’re living in or not.

You can either buy these as standalone policies or alternatively, you can buy them together in one combined policy if you’re eligible for both.

Can I get home insurance on a property I rent?

If you’re living in rented accommodation, your landlord is responsible for the property’s buildings insurance.

This protects against any structural damage to the property from events like flooding and fire. It just won’t cover any of your things from being damaged or destroyed in the process.

But don’t worry - as a lodger or tenant, you can take out your own cover to protect your belongings.

Tenants insurance is a type of contents insurance that covers your belongings while they're in your rented house or flat. It’s designed to protect them in case they get unexpectedly damaged or stolen. It can also cover any accidental mishaps to your landlord’s items too.

Can I change an existing home insurance policy that’s not in my name?

Generally, the answer is no. Not unless you have permission from the policyholder.

It might be possible for your name to be added to a home insurance policy. Particularly if you’re married to the main policyholder or you hold a joint mortgage with them. But they’ll need to contact the insurer directly to do this.

There may be an admin fee to make any changes to the policy and it could affect the cost of premiums.

What home insurance do I need to exchange contracts?

When you’re buying a house, you become legally responsible for it as soon as you exchange contracts. Although you won’t be handed the keys until the sale is complete.

Until you exchange, the seller is responsible for buildings insurance. But once that happens, the onus is on you.

It’s usually a condition of your mortgage lender that you arrange buildings insurance before the sale. Although even if you’re not required to, it’s still advisable to get it - the seller’s under no legal obligation to keep the property insured once contracts have been exchanged.

The only exception is if the property is leasehold. If this is the case, check with the freeholder what buildings cover they have. And see if it’s included in the service charge. Do this well in advance to give enough time to arrange your own cover if you need to.

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