If your home is going to be unoccupied for a month or more, you need to make sure you have the right sort of insurance in place.
Your standard household insurance policy is not going to suffice; you really have to buy specialist unoccupied home insurance.
Houses remain Empty for Various Reasons
Houses remain empty for various reasons. You may have relocated to a new home and are waiting for your previous property to sell or to be rented out to tenants. Alternatively, you could be in rented accommodation whilst your home is being refurbished or an extension being added.
A further scenario is when an individual inherits a property, and needs to wait for probate to clear prior to taking full and active possession.
Standard home insurance normally stipulates that the property cannot remain unoccupied for more than 30 days at a time.
Insurance companies are worried that, should a property be left vacant for longer periods, it can attract vandals or burglars. Also, if damage caused by a leaking pipe or another problem which has not been pinpointed, will result in higher clear-up costs.
What is covered by unoccupied home insurance?
The basis of an unoccupied house insurance policy is cover against the risks presented by fire, lightning, explosion, earthquake and aircraft, while a property is empty.
Should you need additional cover, you can add extras like contents insurance and insurance against malicious damage, theft as well as subsidence.
Furthermore, the policy covers your liability risks as the property owner. For example, if a drainpipe falls and damages a parked car, or there is an explosion and individuals outside the property are injured or killed, you would be in a position of having financial protection against any claims lodged against you.
What affects the Cost of an Unoccupied Property Insurance Policy?
Any additional features to your basic cover affect the cost of your policy. Further factors which can affect your basic cover are:
- The length of time the property has been left unoccupied
- The reason why it has been left unoccupied
- Whether or not building work is being undertaken
- Whether or not the policyholder is going to let, sell or reoccupy the property.
Unoccupied home insurance does not have to be an annual policy. If you can inform the insurer how long the property is going to be unoccupied, it will arrange cover accordingly: for three or six months.
Should matters not go to plan, and the property sale does not go through as quickly as anticipated, you might have to renew the contract.
What can I do to Lower the cost?
Security poses a huge issue with unoccupied properties. The insurer for your unoccupied property is likely to stipulate specific types of door and window locks. By having these fitted and perhaps a burglar alarm too, you may be able to get a discount.
Moreover, you may be able lower the premium by choosing a higher excess than the one specified in the policy; this could be £100 or £200. The excess is the amount you pay towards a claim, so, do not set it at a level that you cannot afford. If your excess has been set at £400 and you lodge a claim for £300, you are not going to receive anything from the insurance company.