When your home is left empty for a certain period of time, the chances of theft go up. An empty home also carries a higher risk of structural damage – for example, if a pipe bursts and there is no one to undertake repairs, the effects on your property could be devastating.
What is unoccupied home insurance?
Unoccupied home insurance covers your home if it is left empty for longer than a standard home insurance policy allows.
Most standard home insurance policies will cover your house being left empty for between 30 and 60 days. If anything happens to your home outside this period, you will not be covered. The exact amount of time you can leave your property unoccupied and still be covered varies from one provider to the next. Always check your policy’s wording to confirm.
Unlike standard home insurance policies, unoccupied home insurance is a specialist type of insurance that will cover an empty property for anywhere between three, six, nine, or 12 months.
If you require cover for longer than 12 months, it’s a good idea to get quotes for a new policy towards the end of your original term.
When do you need it?
There are a few circumstances where you may need to take out unoccupied home insurance. These include: -
- You are awaiting probate
- You are waiting for a property to be sold
- Undertaking renovations or building work that require you to temporarily vacate the property
- The property is a second home or holiday home you don’t normally live in
- You are a landlord and you are waiting for your property to be occupied
- The occupier is absent due to having gone traveling, been hospitalised, or taken into care.
You will need to let your insurer know when your house will be empty and for how long.
Your existing policy may cover your home for the period it is going to be unoccupied. But if it doesn't, you will need to arrange for unoccupied home insurance so as not to invalidate your cover.
Some policies may require you to have someone come and check on the home at regular intervals – for example, every fortnight (14 days).
What does unoccupied home insurance cover?
Your level of cover will depend on the policy you take out. But generally speaking, it’s a good idea to think about protection against the following: -
- Flood or storm damage
- Property owner liability. For example, if a tree on your property fell and damaged your neighbour’s home.
What doesn't unoccupied home insurance cover?
As with all home insurance policies, unoccupied home insurance will have exclusions for what it will and will not cover. Always make sure to read your policy terms and conditions carefully. Some common exclusions with unoccupied home insurance include: -
Unforced entry: If your property suffers loss or damage as a result of leaving doors or windows unlocked, you will not be covered.
Major works: Some insurers may exclude cover for any damage caused by extensions or structural repairs.
Contractors: You might not be able to claim for damage caused by contractors you’ve hired to work on your home during the time it is unoccupied. However contractors should have their own insurance to cover for any damage.
How much is unoccupied home insurance?
When calculating the price of unoccupied home insurance, your insurer will consider a range of factors, including: -
- Why the home is unoccupied
- How long the property will be unoccupied for
- The value of the property
- Any existing home security measures in place
- Your address
How can I save money on unoccupied home insurance?
When looking at unoccupied home insurance, there are a few steps you can take to not only help keep your property safe, but help you save money on your insurance premiums.
- Pay particular attention to pipes and heating: Consider using a controlled heating system to stop your pipes from bursting in cold months. Alternatively, switch off all utilities and drain the water system before leaving your property unoccupied.
- Look after your property: Keep your property in good condition, including staying on top of maintenance work. This will reduce the likelihood of needing to make a claim.
- Hide away personal belongings and beef up your security: Move any personal belongings or valuable items from the open to a secure place – such as a safe or remove them from the property entirely. It’s also a good idea to fit and use approved locks on doors and windows, as well as install a home alarm system (link).
Do I need to tell my insurer if my home is going to be unoccupied?
Yes. It is important to let your insurance provider know if your home is going to be empty for a period longer than set out in your policy. If you don’t, you risk invalidating your home insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
I am a landlord and my property is currently empty. Do I need unoccupied home insurance?
If you are between tenants or looking to carry out renovations on your property before renting it out, having landlord insurance could be a more flexible option than standard home insurance for how long your property can remain empty for.
But first, check your policy to see how long your property can be left empty.
What is the difference between a 'vacant' property and one that is 'unoccupied?'
An unoccupied property means no one is living in the home, but there are personal belongings in and around the home.
A vacant property on the other hand, means that not only is no one living in the home, but there are also no personal belongings either inside or on the property.
Can I insure an unoccupied property if it is for sale?
Yes. If your property is for sale and you think the property will be empty for longer than stated on your policy, it is a good idea to consider unoccupied home insurance.
In most cases, you should be able to add unoccupied home insurance to your existing policy but check with your insurance provider.
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