Standard home insurance policies will not usually cover properties that are left unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days. Properties can be left unoccupied for a variety of reasons, including awaiting sale or waiting for the completion of probate, during renovations or for health care reasons (such as a long spell in hospital). If your home is left unoccupied for more than 30 days, or sometimes 60 days, your home insurance policy may no longer be valid and would not pay out if you had to make a claim.
Unoccupied or vacant properties are deemed to be of a higher risk in the eyes of the insurers due to lower levels of security and lack of ongoing maintenance. However, for those very reasons, it is important to get the right level of cover in place. Your existing home insurance provider might look at covering the unoccupied period but they may restrict the cover or increase the excess or premiums to a prohibitive level.
You need specialist unoccupied home insurance cover. By speaking to an expert in this area, they can find you a policy to suit your needs. You won’t necessarily need to insure your home for the usual 12 months required by a standard policy. Most providers will look at covering you for 3, 6 or 9 months with an option to extend if necessary. This allows you much more flexibility. If the unoccupied property is undergoing renovations, you may also want to look at extra cover to protect against liability or damage arising from any building work itself.
While cover is available, you should still make every effort to reduce the risk of your property being damaged in the first place. Removing portable valuables, securing doors and windows with British Standard Kitemark locks, using a burglar alarm and keeping an eye on any necessary exterior repairs are all important while your property remains vacant. In addition, you should consider draining water systems to prevent burst pipes and escape of water claims in cold weather. Regularly inspecting the property is also good practice as an empty home is an easy target for criminal activity, vandalism and even unlawful squatting! For more advice on home security see our earlier blog.
Taking these simple precautions is also likely to help you secure the best cover at the best price for your unoccupied property.
Don’t forget that you may also be eligible for a reduction in your council tax if you have an unoccupied property.
It depends on your local council but check here for more details.
To speak to an expert in non-standard property cover, including unoccupied property insurance, call your local A-Plan branch today!