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Do I need to add a joint policyholder to home insurance?

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In the often peculiar world of insurance there are times when adding another person’s name to a particular policy reduces your premium, like for example in the tried and tested field of motor insurance.

Far from being an urban legend, in many cases if you put someone else on your car policy it effectively brings down the price you pay. And to make matters even more surreal, it doesn’t matter what age your ‘plus one’ is either; nor whether they have much driving experience in the event.

The reason being that providing the ‘other person’s’ driving licence is endorsement-free they are seen as a lesser risk. The same rule applies should their profession be perceived as a safer bet. For instance if your partner (who you wish to add to your motor insurance policy) is employed in the teaching profession, then the odds are your insurance will come down.

Conversely adding your name (if you’re a young, inexperienced driver) will also minimise motor insurance premiums for you/them.

However this ‘fronting’ method is largely frowned upon in the insurance industry as a whole and can land the perpetuators in a lot of hot water at a later date.

But we’re not talking about car insurance here and now, rather home insurance – and specifically if you need to add a joint policyholder to a home insurance package.

The simple answer to this question is no, you don’t. That said you are contractually obliged to fill in the ‘assumption question’ blanks which fundamentally appear on home insurance application forms for the most part, and which essentially validate the policy.

In the majority of instances the home insurance provider will seek to determine the occupation of ALL residents of the property the proposer is looking to insure. Perversely though – and the polar opposite of motor insurance sense and sensibilities – should you add your partner/someone else’s name to a typical home buildings and contents insurance policy, then the resultant premium quote can actually increase in price.

Not to mention the extra admin fee applied with pretty much immediate effect. Yet as we’ve already established they don’t have to be named as a joint policyholder by law, so it’s rather a strange option when you think about it.

If you are under no obligations to do it, and it knowingly hikes up the premium, who in their right mind would follow it through if they didn’t have to?

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We suppose it all rather depends on communication and the sake of convenience. It’s worth noting that while adding an additional name is not compulsory practice, without it the other person has no automatic right to discuss any aspect of the policy (or any subsequent claim made against said policy) thereafter.

Which might prove somewhat impractical at certain junctures, thinking ahead. At the end of the day any spouse or family member living at the property in a permanent capacity (and as disclosed from the outset of any home and buildings contents policies being underwritten), will be covered as part of the policy. And generally speaking most insurers would be willing to discuss elements of the all-enveloping policy with a spouse, once they’ve been cleared to do so by way of answering security questions which are commonplace with most insurance products these days, as you’re probably well aware.

Returning to the subject of how individual policyholder occupations have great sway over a range of personal insurance plans, and it’s always worth bearing in mind that by adding your partner as a joint home insurance policy holder could, potentially, alter the premium either up or down.

While it could turn out to decrease the cost quoted, it could just as easily jump above and beyond what you were quoted as the sole policyholder if your partner’s job is deemed more risky than yours. So you must always weigh up the pros and cons before rushing into a hasty decision. The best way of finding out whether or not adding another person’s name to the policy would affect the premium adversely is to seek a few online quotations, both with and without your partner/spouse’s name added to afford you a rough idea.

We guess the crunch comes down to if you and your partner jointly own/have a mortgage on your home or not, and goes back to the aforementioned issue regarding channels of communication, as delays will always be avoided if there is a future claim which involves items they may own or jointly own with you within the constructs of a partnership.

So for example if a claim is lodged by a partner – and if the scenario presented suggested they were not jointly named on the policy – then the insurer would be within their rights to ask for proof they reside at the insured address (courtesy of bank statements, utility bills, etc..). By obtaining a joint policy then such time-consuming hassles can be side-stepped beforehand.

The same – yet possibly more worrying and far-reaching – situation could arise if something unexpectedly happened to your partner (and if they were the sole home insurance policyholder), as the insurance provider could refuse to acknowledge the partner if their name doesn’t appear on the policy.

Should this scenario unfold then the provider would request evidence of a death certificate prior to engaging with/adding a partner’s name.

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What’s more, an official letter for the executor of the recently deceased’s estate may well be sought too, which would not only hamper all proceedings but also be another unsettling experience during what would already be a dark time for all concerned.

It’s effectively in everyone best interests that the home insurance policy should reflect the ownership of the property, at least in terms of buildings cover. Because if the insurance provider wanted to play hard ball in the event of a certain fate befalling a sole policyholder (and refuse to pay a share of the claim for anyone who owned the property yet was NOT an insured party under the pre-agreed plan), they could.

Just looking into the home contents aspect and a partner’s restricted right of recall should they/you jointly fall victim to damage or theft from your property. If you insure the building and contents in your sole name, should you want to claim for your partner/spouse’s contents the insurance providers will often want confirmation that they satisfy their definition of being part of your family. This may well be a copy of your marriage certificate, if they don’t take your word for it.

So there you have it. Although far from being a must have thing (and completely up to the individuals concerned from the outset), it probably makes more practical sense to add your partner/spouse’s name to a legally-binding home and buildings contents insurance policy to make the whole process smoother and more transparent as the policy rolls out over the years.

It’s fair to say that most households here in the UK insure both the policyholder AND members of their household for the simple reason that insurance in just the singular person’s name will terminate on their demise; therefore a partner/spouse with no (officially documented) insurable interest in the property would not be in a position to claim.

So if you do choose to go down this route, remember that your partner/co-signee will have to disclose key personal information from day one. Along with the obvious things like declaring the other person’s full name, DOB and relationship to the existing/predominant policyholder, they’ll need to reveal their occupation (and type of business in which they’re employed in), as well as details of any bankruptcies, IVAs or CCJs found against their names, confirmation of their claims history (including liability claims) and notification of any pending or unspent criminal convictions. Just so that all parties are put in the picture early doors, and from the proposer/joint proposer’s viewpoint(s) get a clear idea of just how much their subsequent premium quotes are going to be within a ball-park figure of.