An Association of British Insurers (ABI) publication entitled Common Questions About Home Insurance explains that insurance cover for both owner occupied and let property typically attaches conditions if the home is left unoccupied for a certain period of time – this may be the relatively short period of 30 consecutive days, or less frequently, 60 days.
The guide explains that the likelihood of a claim increases significantly if the property is empty and some of the common perils – such as escape of water, theft, and malicious damage – are typically excluded.
You might be tempted to think that your insurance company is not to know whether the property was empty or not when an incident arose for which you subsequently need to make a claim. In that case, insurance companies are probably mush smarter than you think and have ways and means of ascertaining whether or not anyone was living there at the time in question.
At the very least, therefore, you may need to inform your insurers that the property is going to be unoccupied for more than 30 days (or the period stated within your policy documents). In that event you may also want to give serious consideration to empty property insurance to main full protection of your property.
Short term empty property cover
In many cases, your property may be empty for longer than 30 days but only for a relatively short period after that. It may be helpful to know that it is going to be for the relatively short term since the less time for which you need the cover the less you are likely to pay.
By the same token, however, what started out as a short term vacancy may need to be extended over a longer period. If so, you may be glad of the kind of flexible short term policy in which we at Cover4LetProperty specialise. It may be a simple matter of asking us for an unoccupied property insurance quote.
Why is it empty?
Although very few people are likely to go out of their way to leave their home or let property empty, there are occasions when it is practically inevitable. The reasons might include:
- awaiting the completion of probate to determine the ownership of the property;
- refurbishment, remodelling or renovation that makes the home or let property uninhabitable for the duration of the works;
- a job that takes you away from home for several months;
- an extended holiday overseas – to visit relatives or friends, for example;
- a change of tenancies, involving an interval between the present tenants moving out and new ones moving in; or
- it remains up for sale whilst you have already moved into your new home.
In some of these instances you may have a reasonably determinate date for the property to be reoccupied and you may arrange your empty property insurance accordingly. On the other hand, the short term nature of the vacancy may need to be extended for reasons beyond your control – and you may need the flexibility of extendable cover.
Whatever the reasons for the property becoming unoccupied, however, if it is going to be longer than a typical 30 days, it is largely immaterial to your insurers – the fact it that it is going to be empty. Therefore, not only do you need to inform your current home or landlord insurers but also consider arranging unoccupied property insurance.