The trouble with empty properties is that property owners rarely intend for them to be that way. Yet if you own a flat or a house, you may easily find that it has remained unoccupied for at least 30 days – at which point it typically becomes “unoccupied” for the purposes of insurance. In that case, you may be looking for the cheapest unoccupied property insurance.
As with all financial products, one man’s cheap may be another man’s “basic”, and different property owners may undoubtedly be looking for different things for their money. The key thing about any kind of insurance policy may be to find one that suits your own individual requirements at a price that meets your expectations.
One thing is certain: no matter what your property is like, you may easily cross the line from having a property that has been vacant for a couple of weeks, to having one that has become “unoccupied” in the eyes of an insurer.
So one day your current policy may be adequate, but the next you may have to search for the cheapest unoccupied property insurance. This can apply to both landlords and owner-occupiers.
How do properties become “unoccupied”?
A property may be unoccupied if:
- it has been let to someone but they give notice and leave. It can be difficult to re-let properties in a short space of time. Once the property has been empty for 30 days or more, with most insurers it is classified as being “unoccupied”;
- the property may be a probate property. Sometimes, after you lose a loved one, it can take a while for probate to be sorted out. And when probate has finally been granted, it may take even longer for the property in question to be sold. In these circumstances, it is easy to see how 30 days or more may elapse, and therefore how the property can become “unoccupied” for the purposes of insurance;
- you have to work away from home for longer than a month or are taking an extended holiday; and
- when refurbishments take longer than expected. Unfortunately, building, decorating, plumbing and electrical works are prone to overrun. So if you have left your property vacant while major works are going on, you may wish to keep an eye on the calendar to avoid becoming suddenly in need of the cheapest unoccupied property insurance you can lay your hands on.
Why do “unoccupied” properties present more risks?
With a bit of luck, your unoccupied property may be no more likely to befall a disaster than it would be when let or lived in by yourself. In that case, you may wonder whether you have to bother with getting the cheapest unoccupied property insurance – or in fact any empty property insurance at all.
But insurers may perceive vacant properties as being at a greater risk of damage simply because there is no one there to notice and act upon the kinds of perils that are insurable.
So if there is a fire or a flood at the property, the mere fact that there is not a tenant or owner on hand to get out the fire extinguisher or sandbags may mean that the risk of damage may be higher.
And empty properties may attract the unwanted attentions of thieves.
Finally, in case you were wondering why you cannot just plod on with your current regular property insurance, you may wish to check the terms and conditions of your policy. If you do not have even the cheapest unoccupied property insurance, you may find that the insurer may not pay out if something were to happen on the grounds that the policy would be void if the property were unoccupied.