Unoccupied house insurance
If you own more than one property, you physically cannot live in them both – fact!
Unoccupied home insurance is designed to make sure that your other properties have the correct level of cover, particularly if your house is empty.
What does ‘unoccupied’ mean for home insurance?
An unoccupied property is a property with nobody actively living in it.
Many home insurance policies will not provide cover for things like theft, vandalism or escape of water when a house is left unoccupied for longer than a period of time.
What is unoccupied house insurance?
Also known as unoccupied home insurance, unoccupied property insurance and empty house insurance, it provides cover for your property if it is to be unoccupied for longer than that allowed by your standard home insurance policy.
As a rough guide, Admiral home insurance allows up to between 30 and 120 days, depending on your level of cover.
Should I get unoccupied house insurance?
There are a number of reasons that you might own a property which is left unoccupied for a lengthy period of time.
These include properties that are:
- Still on the market after you’ve moved home
- Used as summer or holiday homes
- Usually rented out, but currently in-between tenants
- Left unoccupied due to the owner requiring long-term medical assistance
- Being renovated
Unoccupied properties are at an increased risk of things like burglary and vandalism as there is nobody around to deter potential offenders. They are also more likely to sustain serious structural damage as there is nobody around to prevent issues such as burst pipes from escalating.
If anything happens to your unoccupied property, standard home insurance might not cover you.
What does unoccupied house insurance cover?
Ideally, you will want to find an unoccupied property insurance policy which covers you for all of the following events:
- Theft and/or attempted break-ins
- Damage caused by a fire or extreme weather conditions
- Damage caused by burst pipes
- Public liability insurance
- Legal expenses against potential trespassers/squatters
Be sure to read the terms and conditions of your policy with care as all providers will offer different levels of cover. Don’t be left short for the sake of a few minutes’ reading!
What doesn’t unoccupied house insurance cover? What’s excluded?
The exclusions on your policy will vary depending on your provider. A few examples of potential exclusions include:
- Unforced entry
- Extensive renovations (extensions, major repairs etc.)
- Damage caused by contractors
Again, check the terms of your policy to see what circumstances would void your unoccupied house insurance.
How long should I get cover for?
This depends on how long your property will be unoccupied for, but most providers will generally offer cover for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months.
For example, if you are planning to be away on holiday for slightly longer than the allowed period stated on your home insurance policy, you might only need short-term unoccupied house insurance – you can find out some other ways to keep your home safe while on holiday here!
But if the property is going to be unoccupied for a longer period of time, such as holiday homes which are only used in the summer, you may decide to take out a longer policy.
The amount of excess you agree to pay on any claims and your no-claims discount could also affect the cost of your premium.
Most insurers will allow you to extend your policy if required, so don’t waste money by selecting an initial policy for longer than you need it.
How much does unoccupied house insurance cost?
As is the case with any other type of insurance policy, the cost of your premium will be tailored personally to you and your home.
The longer you require cover for, the more expensive your premium will be, but your insurer will also consider factors such as:
The value of your property
More expensive properties – or properties with more expensive belongings – will inevitably cost more to insure.
The location of your property
Properties are more likely to be broken into when there is nobody home, so if your house is in an area with a high crime rate, it will cost more to insure.
Your property’s security
Properties with additional security features to prevent or deter burglars, such as security cameras or alarm systems, might be cheaper to insure.
Making a claim on your unoccupied house insurance
Some insurers will require you to report certain incidents – such as burglary or suspected squatters – to the police before you contact them – these details will be stated in your policy.
When making a claim, you will likely have to pay an excess fee which will have been determined when you first took out the policy.
Weigh up whether the cost of any damage caused is greater than the excess you will have to pay and consider whether it will be worth giving up your no-claims discount, which with some insurers will give you cheaper insurance.
Where to get unoccupied house insurance
If you think you might require unoccupied house insurance, you should contact the provider of your regular policy to see if they will cover you while you are away from home.
But before accepting their offer, have a shop around and have a price in mind to make sure that you aren’t getting ripped off!
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