What is unoccupied property insurance? – FAQs

Posted: 3rd Jun 2014

Here are some views relating to typical FAQs on the subject of unoccupied property insurance.

What cover is provided by unoccupied property insurance?

It is necessary to read a policy carefully in order to establish exactly what cover is provided, however, you may find that generically the cover relates to unoccupied properties.

In insurance, an unoccupied property is typically defined as one that has had nobody in residence for a period of 30 days or over.

At that point, any standard landlords insurance would become void (the same may apply to owner-occupier home buildings and contents insurance cover).

Vacant property insurance is typically required for properties that meet the criteria for definition as being unoccupied.

Why is that necessary?

The risks surrounding an unoccupied property may be significantly different to those of other properties.

As you may imagine, burglars and vandals may find such property more attractive and there is also a greater risk of unnoticed problems (e.g. leaky pipes) suddenly turning into disasters.

What if the cause was beyond anyone’s control?

It isn’t possible to give a definitive answer, as that may depend upon your specific landlords insurance policy, however, typically the cause won’t be a factor.

If, for example, you were let down at the last minute by tenants that failed to arrive as planned, once your property went over the 30 days, it would still typically be classed as unoccupied.

Note that insurance providers typically have ways of establishing whether or not a property was occupied at the time an incident arose that subsequently resulted in a claim.

Is unoccupied property insurance all that is required?

That depends, once again, on the terms and conditions of your vacant property insurance.

Some policies of that type may require you to make periodic inspections of the property while it is unoccupied and to keep external areas in very good condition (as a way of making it hard to ascertain if the property is unoccupied – thereby deterring thieves etc).

What about if building work was underway?

Typically the same 30-day rule would apply.

Having people present in your property during the day is not the same thing as it being classed as being occupied.

What happens if I leave it furnished?

This would also make no difference to the requirement.

The definition relates specifically to occupancy and is nothing to do with whether or not your property is empty or otherwise (in the sense of furnishings, fixtures and fittings).

What about if someone sleeps there for one night before the 30 days expires?

This is a point of fine detail that can really only be answered by looking at the specifics of a policy and perhaps getting a comment from the insurance provider.

As a general rule, it may be advisable to play safe and take unoccupied property insurance if you believe your property is likely to be pushing the 30-day boundaries.