If your property is empty and unoccupied, then it may be wise to get your property insured under a specific insurance policy. This applies whether you are simply on holiday or if you are not living in the property, perhaps in the process of selling the property, be it a residential or commercial one.
It is fair to say that it is inevitable that your home will be unoccupied for some period of time during the course of the year no matter the nature of the property.
Importantly then, what is property insurance, who is it for, do you need it and what does it do?
What is Empty Property Insurance?
Empty property insurance, also known as ‘empty house insurance’ or ‘unoccupied home insurance’ is the insurance policy taken out if your home is going to be empty for a period of time that is longer than your standard home and contents policies policy will allow for.
Typically, standard cover on these policies will only provide cover for an empty property for 30 to 60 days. If anything were to occur outside of this time frame, you are unlikely to be covered by those standard home insurance policies.
Therefore, empty property insurance is for when you will be out of your property for extended periods of time. It is important to consider this type of insurance if circumstances dictate, as when you leave your property empty for a prolonged period of time, the risk of things like theft and vandalism occurring greatly increase.
As well as theft and vandalism, an unoccupied property is more susceptible to structural damage such as burst pipes or mould, as there will be no one there on a regular basis to detect this early. This is one of the main reasons why having the insurance in place is so vital as it could save you a lot of money in the long run if something were to occur.
What does Unoccupied Home Insurance Cover?
If you are going to take out unoccupied home insurance for when your home is empty, you may be able to find a policy which covers things like:
- Flooding, storms or fire damage: if any harm comes to your property due to a flood, a storm or a fire when you are away
- Escape of water or oil: if a pipe bursts, or there is a leakage of oil or water somewhere in the property and it actively causes damage while you are not in the property
- Attempted theft or successful theft: if someone successfully breaks in or attempts to break into your home and steals your belongings
- Vandalism: if some form of criminal damage happens to your property whilst you are not there
- Legal expenses: if you need to pay legal for the removal of trespassers or squatters, or for something like personal identity theft
- Public liability insurance: if damage is caused by a property that you are responsible for. This could be, for example, if a roof tile from your property fell and broke a car window
It is important to remember that insurance policies can vary between the providers which are available on the market. Therefore, they will not all provide the same cover. To help you choose the right deal for you which has the correct level of coverage, you need to read each provider’s policy documents carefully.
What is Not Covered by Empty Property Insurance?
Empty property insurance can be very helpful and save you money if anything were to go wrong. However, you may find that your insurer may reject claims due to:
- Unforced entry: if you leave the windows and doors unlocked or open and someone enters, this will be a sure way to void a home insurance policy of any kind, including that of empty property insurance. This is because thieves or squatters could simply access your home without forced entry
- Major works: some insurers may also refuse to cover incidents which happen when major works are being undertaken. This includes things like extension or repairs to the property’s physical structure
- Contractors: if it is the case that you have hired contractors to work on your home while it is unoccupied, you may find that some policy providers will not cover you for any damage which they cause to your property. Contractors should actually have their own insurance which they can claim on to cover any damage they do cause
Claiming on Unoccupied Home Insurance
You should really check if your insurer does have any specific terms about how you should go about making a claim, and when you compare insurance policies, for example online (more information) this should be a factor you strongly consider. For example, do you need to contact them instantly or do you need to first file a police report?
There are also other things to consider before you claim on these policies:
No claims bonus: insurers will often offer discounts on the price of your policy if you have not claimed for a long period of time, or ever. So, if you do make a claim you will lose this bonus and may see your premiums go up as standard.
Policy excess: if you are going to make a claim, you will need to pay a certain amount towards the claim before your insurer will actually pay out.