The importance of unoccupied property insurance

Unoccupied property insurance is important – without it, you might be left footing the bill for any amount of very expensive loss or damage that occurs whilst the place is left empty.

Insuring your home

There is a big difference between the standard property insurance which probably protects your property when there is someone at home and unoccupied property insurance, when there is no one there. That difference is all about risk – the watchword of all insurers.

An empty property is more vulnerable to many kinds of everyday risk than one which is occupied, insist property managers, VPS:

  • unoccupied property attracts unwelcome attention not just from burglars, but other intruders such as squatters, vandals and even arsonists;
  • an unoccupied property is also more vulnerable to the many otherwise minor maintenance issues which may develop into a major disaster if there is no occupant to raise the alarm – a faulty electrical connection might end up with the building burning to the ground.

Insurers take such evaluations of risk sufficiently seriously that almost all are going to significantly restrict the terms of cover or regard it as lapsed altogether, once the property has been unoccupied for more than 30 to 60 consecutive days or so in a row (the actual figure is likely to vary from one insurer to another).

With the cover significantly reduced or completely removed, this leaves you very vulnerable to threats such as malicious damage, theft and damage from escapes of water – which are typically some of the main elements excluded when your property becomes unoccupied.

Unoccupied property insurance

Unoccupied insurance is so important because it plugs the gaps created by your existing insurance cover’s restrictions and restores an appropriate level of protection for your property whilst it stands empty.

It is a standalone form of insurance you might want to consider whenever the property you own is going to be left temporarily unoccupied, for example, when:

  • you take an extended vacation, lasting a month or more – perhaps to visit friends or family living abroad;
  • when your property is being renovated and is unsuitable for occupation or habitation whilst the works are in progress;
  • you are moving to a new house and have already made the move but are waiting for the previous home to be sold;
  • you have an interest in a property which is subject to probate and requires insurance cover whilst it stands empty until its future is decided; or
  • you are the landlord of let property (residential or commercial) and previous tenants have already moved out, but you need to wait a month or so until new ones move in.

These are just some of the scenarios in which your valuable property may lose the safeguards and protection normally afforded by your home insurance, buy to let insurance or commercial property insurance.

By arranging specialist unoccupied property insurance, however, you may restore – as much or as little of – the cover that usually keeps your property secure and may save you untold thousands of pounds in repairs and replacements if disaster strikes.

It is also important to note that if you have a mortgage on the property, it may typically be a condition of your home loan agreement that you have adequate buildings insurance at all times in order to protect your and your lender’s financial interests.