What to consider when buying unoccupied property insurance

Posted: 25th Apr 2017

You know that the home you own or your buy to let property has to be left empty and unoccupied for a month or so. The next step may be to arrange unoccupied property insurance.

So what is this form of property insurance and what do you need to consider when buying cover?

Why you may need unoccupied property insurance

After a number of consecutive days of a property being unoccupied, your existing home or landlord insurance is likely to fall short or may even lapse. Your insurers are likely to give you two main reasons:

  • an otherwise fairly minor and routine need for repair or maintenance might quickly develop into a full-blown emergency – resulting in extensive loss and damage – if there is no one on hand to take evasive action or to report the problem; and
  • empty and unoccupied properties are known attractions for all manner of unwanted attention – from burglars to squatters, from vandals to arsonists, according to insurers and security specialists and property managers such as Orbis.

In response to heightened risks such as these, your current insurer is likely to severely limit or to remove cover altogether once your property has been unoccupied for longer than 30 to 60 consecutive days – the interval varying from one provider to another.

But of course, your property and its contents still need protecting and the way to achieve this is through purpose-designed unoccupied property insurance – preferably from a specialist provider, such as ourselves here at Cover4LetProperty, where we have put together a detailed guide on the specific issue of unoccupied property which you can read here.

Why is your property empty?

There are many reasons, of course, why you are leaving the property vacant for the duration:

  • you might be working away from home, or even abroad, for a contract lasting several months;
  • you might be about to enjoy an extended, long-stay holiday;
  • you might be in the process of moving home and have moved into the new house whilst leaving the previous home empty until it is sold;
  • if you are a landlord, there may be a longer than usual gap between current tenants moving out and new ones moving in;
  • the property might be in the course of extensive renovation or other building works; or
  • it might be subject to probate and you have been given the responsibility for arranging the protection of suitable insurance whilst it remains unoccupied.

What to look for in your unoccupied property insurance

First and foremost, you need to satisfy yourself that the policy provides the cover you need. Fortunately, unoccupied property insurance is generally flexible enough to be tailored to suit your particular needs – from relatively basic to fully comprehensive cover.

You might also want to consider how long you are going to need this special form of protection to last. Once again, a benefit of unoccupied property insurance is its flexibility in the period of cover you may arrange. It may be short-term cover, for example, allowing you to buy insurance for 3 or 6 months, rather than the customary full 12 months.

You might want to make especially certain that your unoccupied property insurance also provides sufficient indemnity against property owner’s liability claims – which may arise if a member of the public is injured or has their own property damaged after coming into contact with your empty property. Indemnity of at least £1 million is typically provided.