All across the UK there are 700,000 empty properties. If you’re a landlord, this could be because the property is between tenants, you’re looking to sell the property, or it’s being refurbished. Regardless of the reason, if the property is unoccupied the chances are your current cover won’t apply.
Standard home insurance will usually not cover a property if it’s been left unoccupied for over 30 consecutive days. This means if you were to try and make a claim on your normal insurance then your insurer will more than likely not pay out. If your insurance provider does agree to insure an unoccupied property they would probably restrict the type of cover you would receive. If for whatever reason you know beforehand that your property will be unoccupied for a length of time, then it would probably be best to seek specialist insurance.
Most specialist unoccupied property insurance policies cover a wide range of risks including floods, storms, fires, and theft. Your liability would also be covered as a property owner – that said, it’s still always recommended to check for any exclusions. A lot of insurance firms may not cover your property against ‘malicious damage’ such as vandalism. There are often also restrictions on damage caused by an escape of water, and theft.
Unoccupied properties are known to be more of a target for thieves, vandals, and of course squatters. This means unoccupied property insurance can often be more expensive than standard cover as these properties pose more of a risk.
You need to make sure that the unoccupied property you’re insuring is secure – insurers won’t cover a house if it’s boarded up or in disrepair. The property needs to have locks approved by your insurer on the windows and doors and a burglar alarm if possible. It’s also a good idea to look at installing timers for the lights in the property, or asking a neighbour to park in front of the house.
The cost of your cover is affected by a number of different factors, including the value of the property, the location, and of course the level of security. If the property you need to cover is a listed building, or has uncommon features such as a thatched roof, then it may require specialist insurance and could affect the cost of your cover.