What does empty property insurance cover?

Posted: 10th May 2018

In their current Travel Trends Report for 2018, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) reveal not only that more Britons are taking more holidays, but that they are spending more on their travel, travelling further afield and, as a result, often taking longer, extended holidays.

For the homeowners amongst those lucky travellers, however, there remains the problem of leaving the home they live in empty and unoccupied for the duration – and the difficulties that ensue with respect to maintaining insurance cover for those properties.

And it is not just an extended holiday that might leave your home empty for longer than a month or so:

  • you might have moved out whilst the property is being refurbished, extended or remodelled;
  • you might be in the process of moving home and have already moved into your new house, whilst the old one stands empty, awaiting its sale;
  • your job might take you to another part of the country or even abroad to work for a while;
  • if the property is let to tenants, there might be a longer than usual void between the completion of a previous tenancy and new tenants moving in; or
  • you might have an interest in a property which is currently subject to probate and stands empty and unoccupied until the process is completed and its eventual ownership decided.

Insurance problems

If, for any of these or other reasons, your home is left empty for longer than a month or more any existing property insurance – whether that is standard home insurance or landlord insurance – is likely to suffer. The scope and level of cover is almost certain to be curtailed or may even be considered to have lapsed altogether, once the property is left unoccupied for longer than between 30 and 45 consecutive days (depending on the interval prescribed in the particular policy).

That is because your current insurers recognise the heightened vulnerability of a home, holiday home or let property that is unoccupied. Just some examples of that heightened vulnerability may suffice:

  • when there is no one at home to report a problem, a cause for otherwise relatively minor repair or maintenance might quickly develop into a major emergency (the dripping tap becoming a veritable flood, for instance);
  • an empty home is at greater risk of burglary, and the threat is well documented, with police forces around the country offering advice on how to deter burglars if you are going away on holiday or leaving your home empty for a while – as comments from the Metropolitan Police illustrate; and
  • it is not just burglars who may be the unwanted intruders of your unoccupied home, but squatters, vandals and even arsonists.

Unoccupied property insurance

That is why specialist unoccupied property insurance is necessary – so, what does it cover?

Essentially, it may cover everything necessary to restore the protection your empty home requires.

This standalone insurance product may also typically provide cover for just as long as you need it – and unlike many other types of general insurance, may be purchased for periods of less than a year. If you are going to be away for just three or six months, for instance, your unoccupied property insurance may be bought for only that period – as our Quick Guide to Unoccupied Property Insurance makes clear.