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About Unoccupied Home Insurance

Introduction

According to statistics from The Empty Homes Agency, there are an estimated 870,000 empty homes in the UK and they are unoccupied for many reasons. The property may be awaiting sale or probate. In some cases the owners may be in hospital for a period of time or have moved out while the home is being refurbished. All these are reasons for leaving a home unoccupied.

Unoccupied for more than 30 days

Most standard home insurance policies do not give you cover for properties which become unoccupied and, even if they do, the maximum period would normally be only 30 days. Leaving a home unoccupied for any long period of time can also make it a target for vandalism and theft.

Current Home Insurance Policies

The property may already have an insurance policy in place, but the existing policy is unlikely to cover extended unoccupancy. Most insurers will not cover a property if it is left unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days - so even a very long holiday might be a risk!

The existing home insurance policy might cover the property while empty, but it is likely to be only on a restricted cover basis. It is therefore essential for you to seek specialist buildings and contents insurance if a property is left unoccupied for any length of time. Our unoccupied home insurance policies can insure you against a range of risks including storm, flood, fire and theft. Property owner’s liability is also covered.

It's important to consider that, with some policies, there may be restrictions on theft of contents and any damage caused by an escape of water or malicious damage so it is always essential to check the policy exclusions. The old adage, you get what you pay for, is sometimes only apparent after the event...

Policy period

It is not always necessary to cover the property for a full year. UPI has policies that can be arranged for three, six, nine or 12 months, with the option to extend if necessary. This allows flexibility if a sale takes longer than expected.

Theft & malicious damage

Unoccupied property insurance can be more expensive than normal cover because unoccupied homes pose more of a risk. They are, for example, more likely to be targeted by thieves, vandals and squatters. Problems arising from fire or water can also prove costly if the home is empty. Normally, vacant home insurance policies would have a requirement for regular visits to be made.

Premium costs

The actual cost of cover will depend on a number of factors including the value of the property, the location, the term of the insurance, security at the property and the reason why the home is unoccupied. If there are contractors working on the site, for example, it could affect the premium - insurers might also exclude any damage caused by the builders.

Secure the empty property

An empty home must usually be in a good state of repair: you probably won't get cover if the house is boarded up or dilapidated. It must also be secure, with approved locks on the doors and windows and preferably a burglar alarm. The insurer will also typically insist that you 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. It's also a good idea to make the place look lived in, perhaps by installing timer switches for the lights and, for example, asking a neighbour to park their car in the drive.