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What Is Indemnity Insurance?

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

30th Mar 2020 (Last updated on 6th Jul 2020) 5 minute read

Indemnity insurance is a protective insurance policy taken out during property transactions. It will cover you against any legal property issues that would be difficult to resolve. Although the chances are small that you encounter a legal defect, the price would be costly if you did.

Bought during the conveyancing process, indemnity insurance will protect you against any legal defects with the property that could not be easily resolved, if at all. Indemnity Insurance will cover you in the case of a range of legal issues relating to the property, such as title or deed issues. 

Compare My Move work with property experts to help keep you informed throughout the buying process. In this guide, we explain what indemnity insurance is, what the policy covers, how much is indemnity insurance and who has to pay. 

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Does Indemnity Insurance Cover?
  2. Reasons For Indemnity Insurance
  3. Why Do I Need Indemnity Insurance?
  4. How Much is Indemnity Insurance?
  5. Who Should Pay For The Policy?
  6. Can The Seller Give Me Their Existing Indemnity Insurance?
  7. Do I Need Indemnity Insurance?
  8. Save On Your House Move With Compare My Move

What Does Indemnity Insurance Cover?

Indemnity insurance will cover the buyer and the mortgage lender if the legal defect affected the loss of the property’s value. Whilst many issues covered under indemnity insurance have a very small chance of occurring, it would mean an expensive bill later down the line. We’ve listed some common issues covered under indemnity insurance:

1. Planning permission:

Ensuring all planning and building regulations are obtained will be included in your solicitor fees for buying a house. In the unlikely case that the previous owner of the property had building work done without planning permission - or the work was done some time ago with no record of consent being kept, 
your indemnity insurance will protect you from any legal action. You would be covered against any local authority enforcement if you’re missing building regulation certificates too. 

For peace of mind, it’s recommended to get a property survey to highlight any dangerous building or structural work before you commit to buying the house. By comparing surveying quotes, you’ll save money when it comes to the whole buying a house process.

2. Restrictive covenants:

Restrictive covenants are restrictions to a property made by the previous owner or developers and are written into the deeds. The most common restrictive covenant is preventing the owner from making alterations to the property by adding an outbuilding or extension. Other restrictive covenants include prohibiting owners from keeping livestock on the land, letting out the property, or selling it on for use as a second or holiday home. 

When you exchange contracts and become the legal owner of the property, you’re agreeing to these restrictive covenants. The issue is that many people aren’t aware of these as they are sometimes not even listed in your title deeds, or if they are they are in small print. Your indemnity insurance policy will cover any issues that occur with restrictive covenants and the previous owner.

Reasons For Indemnity Insurance

An indemnity insurance policy will cover a range of issues, some less common than others. We’ve listed the other reasons you may need to take out indemnity insurance:

1. Chancel repairs:

If the property you’re buying is near a church, you might have to contribute to cover any repair costs the church may need. This is a little-known but potentially expensive eccentricity, dating back many centuries. In this case, your indemnity insurance policy will cover the cost for these repairs. Your conveyancer will inform you if you’re liable to pay chancel repairs once they have carried out their conveyancing searches.

2. Absence of easement:

If you need to access the property via land that hasn’t been granted a right of easement, you will need to take out indemnity insurance. Right of easement will give you the right to use the land on your property. Your indemnity insurance will mean that you’ll be covered in the case of paying to establish the easement to the property.

3. Insolvency act:

If you’re buying a house using a gifted deposit, you will need to have indemnity insurance to continue with the transaction. It will cover you in the unlikely event of the gifted deposit owner going bankrupt.

Why Do I Need Indemnity Insurance?

It’s not compulsory to take out indemnity insurance when you buy a house, but it will give you peace of mind that you’re protected if the worst were to happen. The house buying and selling process can be stressful enough without the thought of legal issues and heavy fines appearing later down the line. 

The time between exchange of contracts and completion day can be daunting, with the chance of being gazumped by another buyer still possible. Many buyers and sellers take out indemnity insurance to help speed up that time without having to delay the process by searching for missing documents or solving issues with planning permission.

How Much is Indemnity Insurance?

Indemnity insurance can vary from £20 to £300, depending on the value of the property and the type of issue the policy needs to cover. If you need the policy to cover a bigger issue such as planning permission or building work, then expect the insurance to cost more. Talk to your solicitor or conveyancer about indemnity insurance as they will be the one to provide you with a quote for your policy.

Who Should Pay For The Policy?

Who pays for indemnity insurance will depend on your circumstances and is usually up for negotiation. During a sale, it is typically the case that the vendor ‘squeezes’ the buyer to pay the insurance, simply to progress the transaction.

And as the insurance policy will benefit the buyer because they will be the new owner of the property, some argue that the buyer should pay for indemnity insurance. 

If the seller is at fault regarding the issue with the property, they will feel the need to pay for the insurance.

Can The Seller Give Me Their Existing Indemnity Insurance?

If the seller already has taken out an indemnity insurance policy on the property, then it is valid for you to use. You will still be protected under the insurance as it comes with the property once you’ve exchanged contracts. Whilst there is no charge to transfer the policy to you, if the property value increases, you might have to pay more towards the insurance policy to ensure it covers everything needed.

Do I Need Indemnity Insurance?

It’s not a legal requirement to take out an indemnity insurance policy, but it will reassure you that you’re covered in the worst-case scenario. Your conveyancer or solicitor will suggest whether you need to get indemnity insurance depending on your situation. Whilst your conveyancer will know best, it is entirely up to you whether you take out the policy or not.

Save On Your House Move With Compare My Move

When you’re ready to begin the moving house process, make sure you compare removal companies, property surveyors and licensed conveyancers with Compare My Move. We’ve got a network of verified and trusted partners who help every step of the moving house journey. We even help you to save up to 70% on the cost of your move, too.

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Graham Norwood

Reviewed by Graham Norwood

Property Journalist and Editor,

With over 15 years of experience in residential property journalism, Graham is currently the editor for both Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today.