Many of us will leave our properties unoccupied at some point, whether it's because we're planning to move, are doing building work, or because we own a second home which is awaiting tenants.
However, whether you are living in your property, or away from it, you will still need home insurance to ensure your home and possessions are protected in the event that something goes wrong.
Most standard insurance policies won't cover your property if it is unoccupied for more than 30 days, so you will need to take out short-term home insurance cover.
Premiums for short-term home insurance are likely to be more expensive than for standard home insurance.
Short-term home insurance is specifically designed for properties awaiting sale or refurbishment, or for second homes, or for properties awaiting probate. As with standard home insurance, this cover can provide valuable peace of mind that the cost of any repairs or replacing anything has been stolen, will be covered if your property is damaged due to fire or flood, or if you are the victim of a burglary.
You can take out cover just for the months you need, although some companies will limit the number of short-term policies that you apply for each year.
Read the small print
Before buying short-term home insurance, make sure you read the small print of any policy you are considering, as levels of cover can vary depending on which insurer you go to. For example, some policies may refuse to pay out if your property is burgled or damaged as a result of unforced entry, or if damage has been caused by builders.
Premiums for short-term home insurance are likely to be more expensive than for standard home insurance
Remember that you will need both buildings and contents short-term insurance. The amount of buildings cover you need is based on the rebuild cost of your home, rather than its value, and your contents cover should be enough to replace all your movable possessions in the event that they are destroyed or stolen. Be careful not to underestimate how much cover you need, as this could have serious financial consequences if you need to make a claim. Similarly, make sure you don't over-insure, as you will be paying over the odds for cover you don't need.
If you have moved everything out of your property, then you may be able to do without short-term contents insurance, but only if the property is completely empty.
How to reduce premiums
Premiums for short-term home insurance are likely to be more expensive than for standard home insurance. The reason for this is that as your property is unoccupied, if something goes wrong such as a burst pipe or fire, the damage caused is likely to be more serious than if you were there and able to resolve the problem quickly. Similarly, unoccupied properties can be a tempting target for thieves, making them a higher risk for insurers.
This makes it even more important to compare several different quotes before buying, so you can ensure that you find the most competitive policy possible.
As well as shopping around to find the best deal, there are other ways you can keep the cost of premiums to a minimum. For example, installing additional security measures can help reduce the cost of cover, but check with your insurer first whether any alarms or locks you are considering must conform to any particular standard. Joining a Neighbourhood Watch scheme may also help.
You could also consider raising the excess on your policy. This is the part of any insurance claim which you must pay yourself. However, make sure the excess remains affordable. Otherwise you might struggle to pay for it in the event that you make a claim.