Buyers Beware – are you insuring from exchange of contracts?

If a house a purchased with the aid of a mortgage, the buyer’s conveyancer will act for both the buyer and the lender. The conveyancer will use the Council of Mortgage Lenders Handbook (the Handbook) to determine the requirements of each individual lender.

The Handbook’s guidance on buildings insurance was amended on 30 November 2015.

Buyers are responsible for insuring the property from exchange of contracts, and should be advised of this by their conveyancer. Once contracts are exchanged, the buyer is legally committed to buy the property.  If the property is damaged or destroyed between exchange and completion the contract still stands and the buyer will still be contractually bound to complete.  Buyers are therefore advised to insure the property from exchange of contracts.

Insuring a property from exchange will be a requirement of any lender. However it is no longer possible for lenders to impose specific or additional requirements relating to buildings insurance.

Conveyancers are only required to make reasonable enquiries regarding buildings insurance, and therefore more onus is on the buyer to ensure that adequate cover is in place. Buyers should be aware that specific insurance requirements may be contained in their mortgage offer, which they would have agreed to when taking out the mortgage.

Property owners are encouraged to check that they have adequate cover. In the future, lenders may begin to request evidence of cover direct from property owners.