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Unoccupied homes are as their name suggests, whether dilapidated homes for restoration or second homes, leaving a property unoccupied will bring with it some risks, but what can you do to protect it?

Why Leave It Empty?

So why leave it empty in the first place? There are a number of reasons why you may be required to leave your property unattended or unoccupied for certain lengths of time:

  • Awaiting sale or occupation – this can involve awaiting new tenants moving in
  • Awaiting probate – usually the first part of the process of dividing assets of the deceased.
  • Ongoing refurbishment or renovation – this can involve bringing properties back to a state where they can be occupied.
  • Absence of the occupier due to travel, being hospitalised, being taken into care or travel and occupation of a second home

Whatever the reason for having to leave the property unoccupied, it can be worth having some specialist insurance – known as unoccupied property insurance – in place to cover the property against costs incurred as a result of damage caused by weather conditions or by human factors such as squatters or vandals.

How long can I get cover for?

Unoccupied house insurance policies are designed to be short-term policies, and can range from 30-45 days depending on your broker, although longer-term cover for periods of three to twelve months can be arranged depending on your circumstances.

What will my insurer need to know?

Before approving an unoccupied home insurance quote, your insurance broker will want to know several things:

  • How much is the property worth?

    As with most home insurance policies, the more expensive the property, the more expensive it’s going to be to insure it, even in an unoccupied state. The older the building is, including listed buildings, will also affect the price as they may be more at risk from historic structural damage.

  • What condition is the property currently in?

    If the property is in a bad state of repair – including broken windows and boarded up entrances – then brokers are likely to view this in a bad light. Some insurers may offer a cheaper deal on unoccupied home insurance if you take the necessary steps to protect the property while you’re not there, especially during periods of renovation.

  • What security measures are in place?

    Having some form of security system in place during times of non-occupation can help to reduce your premium price as it shows you’re taking steps to protect the property even if you’re not there.

    This can range from changing the locks and fitting industry-approved locks in their place to installing security systems such as burglar alarms and CCTV in order to deter vandals and squatters from your unoccupied property.

What can I do if I’m not there all the time?

Check your utilities when it comes to an unoccupied property, as these can cost you unnecessarily should you have no control over them.

Having time-controlled heating in place can help keep the property comfortably warm even when you’re not there, and this’ll also help prevent your pipes from freezing in cold weather, reducing the risk of damage caused by burst pipes.

What can I NOT get covered for?

Brokers will usually have exclusions on their unoccupied home insurance, and this can vary from insurer to insurer, so it’s worth reading your terms and conditions in detail before taking out a policy.

Some exclusions include:

  • Damage caused by major works to the property – repairs and strengthening to the structure of the building, as well as any extensions you might be building onto the property.
  • Damage or loss caused by unforced entry to the property – usually as a result of leaving a door or window unlocked or ajar
  • Damage caused by any external contractors you may have hired, although anyone you hire should have their own insurance to begin with.

Leaving a house unoccupied for any length of time comes with a level of risk, but by taking steps to ensure the property is protected in your absence you can help to reduce your insurance premiums.

If you’ve an unoccupied home for any reason and are looking for a better deal on your unoccupied home insurance policy, fill in a few details here at Quotiva and let us compare for you. We use a network of top UK-based brokers to find you a better deal.


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