Named on the deed and on the homeowner policy
Home Insurance , ,

Named on the deed and on the homeowner policy

Sounds pretty straightforward, but it is not. The named insured is the person(s) shown on the declarations page of the policy. The person(s) listed here should be the same as recorded on the deed. Named on the deed and on the homeowner policy it’s a question you need to ask yourself when a property is left to you and your siblings.

Anyone recorded on a deed should be listed on the insurance policy, avoid doing this at your own peril.

It gets tricky when you have more than one person owning a home. Some homes are owned in part by people, often brothers and sisters, who may live elsewhere. They’re called “non-resident owners.” Here is a fictional example of what could go wrong and what should be done.

Robert Doe married his childhood sweetheart, Debbie, in 1930. They bought a modest home in New Bedford and raised three sons and a daughter (Jane). The sons grew up and left home to live and work elsewhere – Joe to Boston, Jim to Denver and John to San Diego. Jane never married and lived at home all her life.

When Robert died in 1980, he left the house to his widow, and upon her death, to the children. Jane continued to live there and take care of her mother. At this point, the ownership changed from Robert and Debbie to Debbie alone. The Homeowner’s policy was amended accordingly.

Debbie died in 1990 at age 85. When the Homeowner’s policy was due to renew, Jane called her agent and had the renewal put in her name since “she had always lived there, paid all the bills every year, and believed it was now her home”.

She never had attorney probate the estate of either parent, because the only asset was the small house of low value, and she did not want to pay a lawyer.

Named on the deed and on the homeowner policy

Two years ago Jane invited a neighbor to visit her. The neighbor fell on Jane’s icy front stairs and suffered severe injuries. Jane was sued and contacted her Homeowner’s company who said the demand was below her limit of coverage and she had nothing to worry about.

Jane soon received calls from her three brothers who were also sued. They asked her to notify the insurance company that they were being sued. The insurance company politely declined to defend them because their names appeared nowhere on the policy.

Next, the brothers sued Jane.

Meanwhile, a fire at home caused a total loss. Jane, in her mid 70’s, decided not to rebuild the house, and instead accepted an Actual Cash Value settlement from the insurance company. She then moved into a retirement home on Cape Cod. Then the brothers sued Jane again to recover their share of the property settlement.

Jane should have had the estate of both parents probated.

Next, she should have added the names of the three brothers to her Homeowner’s policy to cover them for property claims on the house, and for liability claims, since they were non-resident co-owners of the property. The cost to do this is zero. It’s free.

So please take a good look at the ownership of your home, and if anything seems questionable, discuss it with your insurance agent or your attorney, as the case may call for. Contact me if you’d like I’d be happy to discuss.

New Bedford Registry of Deeds.

7 comments on “Named on the deed and on the homeowner policy

  1. My brother occupant omitted to put my name on the homeowner insurance. The house is paid off . After the house caught in fire the insurance is going to send a check only on his name while 2 owner on the deed. How I could have check written on both names?

    1. Sorry for the late reply. You can send a copy of the deed to the insurance carrier and request that the policy be amended to show both names. THEN… you can ask them to re-issue the check.

  2. So, I built my home with my husband and then we got a divorce and he removed his name so now the house is in my name only. I did get married again and wondered if I should add my husband’s name. We have been together 15 years and married 12. I’m fighting my insurance company over a claim but they also went and listed one storm claim as 2 ir 3 so im not able to get insurance anywhere else. That’s not only because I have 3 claims within so many years but also because the claim is still open. So now im paying for hazardous insurance through my mortgage company. I have hired an attorney but wondered if there is away around getting new coverage for my home because hazardous only covers major things like if it would burn down. Can you give ne advice please.

    1. Jennifer ~
      You absolutely can get insurance through either your state’s Fair Plan, or a surplus lines carrier. You definitely do NOT want the inadequate coverage that your bank is forcing! Give me a call if you are in MA or RI.

  3. Hello Pete. I hope you are doing well. My Grandmother recently passed away and left her Real Estate property (home) to me in her Will. I am the Executor of her Estate and currently residing at the property. I have Probated her Will with the County Surrogate Office and I intend to keep the home for myself. However, I have not yet transferred the Deed of the house into my name, nor have I yet transferred (or added my name to) the Homeowners Insurance Policy. Do all insurance companies require me to have the Deed to the house in my name, in order to transfer (or at least add me) the Homeowners Insurance into my name? I have read that obtaining a General Warranty Deed usually includes protections (covenants) such as a Covenant of Seisin and a Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment that ensure that the property owner has the right to claim the property as their own and own the property free of any disturbances or challenges of said ownership (so that no John/Jane Smith could try to claim that I’m not the Owner of the Property). Quit Claim Deeds apparently do not have such Covenants (protections), so a General Warranty Deed sounds best. However, I’m not sure if a General Warranty Deed can be applied to my situation (as an heir of the Real Estate) or if some other type of Deed (applicable to my situation) has such protections. I have also read that Owners Title Insurance is available, which would provide these type of protections. Although if I can obtain a Deed with Covenants included, then Owners Title Insurance seems like it would be redundant/obsolete and a waste of money. Also, I’m not sure if I can confidently rely on an Owners Title Insurance company/policy to defend me. Am I on the right track? Any help would be appreciated! Thanks so much!

  4. Can I remove my former girlfriend’s name off my house insurance .
    Her name is on the deed of the house .
    There is no mortgage .
    I currently pay all the bills .
    I want to remove her name off my fire insurance ..Could this be done .
    She has been gone for over 5 years now.

    1. Andrew~ As long as she is on the deed, she has a financial interest in the house. You would need to get her off the deed, then you can remove her from the insurance.

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