Unoccupied property home insurance

Insuring your home when it’s unoccupied

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Whether you’re on holiday or planning to sell, here’s how to cover your home when it’s unoccupied

Empty room

Compare cheap home insurance quotes for specialist properties

What is unoccupied home insurance?

Unoccupied home insurance covers you when your home is empty for longer than your standard policy will allow. You only normally get cover if your home is empty for up to 60 days – and if anything happens outside this period you won’t be covered.

When your home is empty for an extended period, the chances of theft go up. An unoccupied home also carries a higher risk of structural damage – for example, if a pipe bursts and there’s no-one there to handle repairs, the effects could be even more damaging.                               

What does unoccupied home insurance cover?

If you’re taking out unoccupied home insurance, you should find a policy that covers:

  • Storm, flood or fire damage: If any natural disaster happens while you’re away
  • Escape of water or oil: If a pipe bursts or there’s a leakage somewhere in the house
  • Theft and/or attempted theft: If someone successfully breaks in or attempts to break into your home and steals your belongings
  • Vandalism: If criminal damage occurs in your absence
  • Legal expenses: If you need to pay legal fees for the removal of squatters, for trespassers or for personal identity theft
  • Public liability insurance: If damage is caused by a property that you are responsible for; for example, if a roof tile falls and breaks a car window

Remember insurance policies can vary between providers, so they won’t all provide the same levels of cover. Read the policy documents carefully before buying.

What isn’t covered by unoccupied home insurance?

Your home insurance provider might not pay out for a claim for the following reasons:

  • Unforced entry: Leaving your doors and windows unlocked or open is a sure-fire way to void a home insurance policy, because thieves and squatters can get in without forcing entry
  • Major works: Some insurers might even refuse to cover incidents that happen during major works like an extension or repairs to the home’s structure
  • Contractors: If you’ve hired contractors to work on your home while it’s unoccupied, you might not be covered for any damage they cause. Contractors should have their own insurance to cover the damage

Who is unoccupied home insurance for?

There are a number of reasons a home may be temporarily unoccupied. For example, you might find a building is empty if:

  • It’s for sale and you’ve already moved into a new home
  • It’s not your main place of residence, but a holiday home or a home you’ve inherited
  • You’ve just bought it but don’t plan on moving in for a while
  • You’re travelling for a long period
  • You’re a landlord and you’re between tenants
  • You’ve been taken into long-term medical care
  • The building is being renovated and isn’t safe to live in
  • You’re waiting for a probate

Average cost of buildings and contents insurance for on-sale properties is £143

Data collected by MoneySuperMarket from January to June 2019, accurate as of August 2019

How much does unoccupied home insurance cost?

The cost of insurance for unoccupied homes can vary between providers and policies, but the average price of cover for homes that are empty for 31to 60 days is £133. The exact cost for insuring your unoccupied home could be higher of lower because it takes into account things like:

  • Property value: Expensive properties and belongings cost more to repair and replace, so you’ll have to pay more to cover them
  • Property location: Likewise if your property is in an area with high crime rates or a high risk of flooding, the price of cover will go up
  • Property security: Improving the security features of your home when it’s empty will help prevent burglaries
  • Property maintenance: Likewise ensuring your water pipes are insulated during winter months will prevent escaped water from damaging your home – the consequences of which can be severe if left untended
  • Level of coverage: The more extra policies you add and the higher the level of cover you take out, the more you’ll pay in premiums

How long is your home going to be unoccupied?

While standard home insurance generally comes in year-long terms, unoccupied homes don’t always stay empty for 12 months. This is why insurers usually offer unoccupied home insurance in policies lasting for three, six, nine or 12 months.

If you think you’ll be away for longer, or if your absence is sudden, you’ll normally be able to extend your policy as well. For example, if you’re stuck abroad on holiday and flights are grounded, or if your house sale is taking longer than originally planned.

Home insurance costs on average £133 when your property is unoccupied for 15 to 30 days

Data collected by MoneySuperMarket from January to June 2019, accurate as of August 2019

Claiming on unoccupied home insurance

You should check if your insurer has any specific terms about how to make a claim – for example, if you need to contact them instantly or if you need to file a police report.

There are also some things you should consider before claiming:

  • No-claims bonus: Insurers often offer discounts on premiums if you haven’t claimed for a long time – but if you do make a claim you’ll lose this bonus, meaning your premiums will likely go up
  • Excess: Excess is the initial amount you pay towards a claim before your insurer picks up the remaining cost. It can be steep in some cases, so it’s worth considering whether it’s cheaper to preserve your no-claims bonus and pay for the damage yourself

Comparing unoccupied home insurance

If you’re going away and you know your home will be empty, comparing unoccupied home insurance can help you find the right policy for you – so you’re insured for the right amount of time, for all the things you need cover for.

You can browse different quotes from a variety of insurers with MoneySuperMarket and compare them by their price, the quality of cover, the excess they need, and the feedback each policy has received from customers.

All you’ll need to do is enter a few details about your home and its occupants, your area, and the details about your trip away – you’ll then be able to search through different deals so you can find the policy that best matches your needs.

You should also keep in mind that the cheapest deal isn’t always the best – you’ll be better off looking for unoccupied home insurance that ticks every box you require, including the time you’re away and the things you want cover for. This means it’s important to check the policy documents carefully before confirming your choice, so you know the specifics about what’s included.

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