Most homes and building insurance firms will reject claims if the property has been empty for 30 days or more.
To fill the gap, specialist firms offer unoccupied property insurance quotes.
Homeowners need unoccupied cover for several reasons:
- Buy to let homes standing empty between lets
- Homes under refurbishment
- Homes in probate
- Homes for sale after the owner has moved on
- Holiday homes only lived in for a limited time each year
- Homes belonging to elderly owners who have gone in to hospital or care
Besides covering normal insurance risks, most unoccupied property insurance covers against break-ins, theft and vandalism.
The cover comes with some do’s and don’ts –
- Tell the insurer if the home is under refurbishment – other insurance options might apply as most policies will not cover homes that are building sites or boarded up.
- The home should have five lever mortise locks on doors and window locks
- Damage by contractors is excluded as builders and other trades should have their own cover
- Most insurers expect water and heating systems to be drained down – especially over winter
Contents cover for unoccupied properties is often an optional add on – but instead of working the value of individual items, many policies offer a total contents cover from £1,000 upwards. Removing valuables is a good way of keeping the overall cost down while keeping them safe.
Security of homes under refurbishment could also be an issue to discuss with a broker – some insurers will not meet claims if the property is not properly secured.
That means homes with scaffolding or having windows or doors replaced may need special cover.
A good way to buy unoccupied property insurance is through a broker who can discuss the costs and features of a range of policies, while pointing out any pitfalls.