Often Protected Parties are no longer able to live in their own homes, following which the Deputy will implement an unoccupied insurance policy. We have noticed that it is often a necessary requirement that the property has to be inspected in accordance with the terms of the policy itself. This could be weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
As a professional Deputy, any time attending the property would be charged for. Over recent months it has been noticed that sometimes this time is allowed by a Costs Officer, however, sometimes it is reduced and more often than not, the time is disallowed entirely.
We would argue that the time should be allowed, given that the policy would be void if the contractual terms were not being fulfilled. It is also worth noting that the property is a major asset and this must be protected in accordance with the Professional Deputy Standards, published by the Office of the Public Guardian:
“1d (6) Ensure appropriate buildings and contents insurance are in place and familiarise yourself with the terms of the policy.”
1f (1) Regularly review the condition of the property and ensure it is adequately maintained.
When claiming attendance and travel time for such a task, we would recommend that the work is carried out by a lower grade fee earner, preferably a Grade D. It is necessary to bear in mind what time in respect of this task would be considered reasonable and proportionate.
It could also be suggested that the travel time be claimed at half the fee earner rate to reflect proportionality, however, please be aware that although you might think the work was necessary, it is still subject to the Costs Officer’s discretion on assessment.
Alternatively, an agent could be instructed to attend the property for insurance purposed.