Unoccupied home insurance

All you need to know about unoccupied home insurance

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If your home is going to be left unoccupied for any length of time, it's important you have the right level of home insurance in place.

Empty room

Do I need unoccupied home insurance?

If you are a homeowner, you probably already have buildings and contents insurance in place, but your existing policy is unlikely to provide cover if your home should be left unoccupied for longer periods.

However the length of time that an empty property will be covered varies from insurer to insurer, with the maximum most will allow being 60 days. Others only permit 30 days – which is inadequate if you are away from your house for months at a time

If you were to make a claim on your standard policy but your home had been left empty or unoccupied for longer than the stated limit, the insurer is unlikely to pay out.

MoneySuperMarket data shows that the majority of people search for unoccupied home insurance when they will be out of the house for 15-30 days – so the good news is that most normal policies would cover that. 

In the UK, there are approximately 250,000 unoccupied homes

Gov.uk data. Correct as of October 2016.

 

There are about 250,000 empty (unoccupied for more than six months) properties in the UK, and they are unoccupied for a variety of reasons.

Often, the property is awaiting sale or probate. Or perhaps the owners have temporarily moved out while the house is extended or refurbished. Plus, some people are forced to leave their homes empty while they go into hospital, or even into long term care.

Whatever your reason for leaving your home empty, it is very important to insure the property just in case something goes wrong.

Could you afford to pay for damage caused by a flood or fire? What if the property was vandalised or targeted by thieves or squatters? Unoccupied home insurance policies give you peace of mind that your house is safe in your absence. 

The average costs of 30-60 days unoccupied home insurance is £131.

MoneySuperMarket data. Correct as of August 2017.

How to buy unoccupied home insurance

Your existing insurance provider may agree to protect your empty property, but only up until 30 or 60 days, after that it would almost certainly restrict the cover or stop it altogether.

It is therefore wise to seek help from a specialist buildings and contents insurance provider, if you are planning to leave your property unoccupied for any unspecified length of time. This is where unoccupied home insurance becomes necessary.

The cost of cover depends on a number of factors:

  • The value of the property.
  • The location of the house.
  • The term of the insurance policy.
  • Security at the property.
  • The reason the home is unoccupied.

It is 13% more expensive to buy home insurance if your home is for sale

MoneySuperMarket data. Correct as of August 2017. 

What does unoccupied home insurance cover?

Most unoccupied property insurance policies insure a range of risks including storm, flood, fire and theft. You would be liable should a slate blow off the roof and damage a neighbouring property or vehicle.

Unoccupied homes are more likely to be targeted by thieves, squatters and vandals, which can cause major damage to the property.

Additionally, problems arising from fire or water can prove very costly, as there is nobody there to limit the damage or call the emergency services.

Some insurers are reluctant to insure an empty home against malicious damage, plus there may be restrictions on theft of contents or water damage caused by escaped water – but it is always worth checking the policy small print.

Finally, contractors working on the site, for example, could affect the premium. The insurer might also exclude any damage caused by the builders.

“Whatever your reason for leaving your home empty, it is very important to insure the property just in case something goes wrong.”

Different types of unoccupied property cover

As unoccupied homes often don’t stay that way permanently, insurers don’t make you buy a policy for the normal 12 month time period that home insurance usually covers. Most will allow you to arrange three, six, nine or 12 month policies.

You will also usually have the option to extend the policy if necessary – if your property is on sale and it takes longer than the original length of time you expected, then simply extend as required.

If your home is listed, has a thatched roof or any other uncommon features, you may need specialist insurance while it is empty. Visit our non-standard insurance page for more information. 

How to keep your home safe infographic

How to keep your home safe

  • Secure the empty property.
  • An empty home must be in a good state of repair.
  • You won't get cover if the house is boarded up or dilapidated.
  • The property must be secure, with approved locks on the doors and windows.
  • Install a burglar alarm.
  • Remove all valuables.
  • Drain the water system.
  • Set the heating to the frost setting during the winter months to avoid burst pipes.
  • Switch off the utilities and regularly inspect the property.
  • Make the place look lived in – perhaps install timer switches for lights.
  • Ask a neighbour to park their car in the drive

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