Protecting your empty property over winter

Posted: 1st Dec 2014

There may be any number of reasons why a property you own will stand unoccupied over the winter. You may simply up sticks and go in search of the sun until the winter has finally turned the corner. Or perhaps you are a landlord without a tenant. The property could even be the subject of probate and is empty while the paperwork gets sorted.

What ever the reason, you may wish to think about having specialist empty property insurance cover.

Insurance

If the premises are going to be left unoccupied for a month or more, most traditional homeowner or landlord insurance policies are likely to lapse or to become severely limited in the level of cover provided. The simple reason is that an empty property attracts different risks to one that is lived in continuously and your regular insurer may want to avoid those additional risks.

In order to maintain an adequate level of protection for your vacant property, you instead need unoccupied property insurance – which we are able to arrange for you here at Cover4LetProperty.

Staying warm

Although there may be no one at home, the property – and more especially the pipework – is still likely to appreciate a modicum of heat, with your central heating system set to its anti-frost setting.

British Gas suggests that you prepare for winter by:

  • setting the system’s clock or timer and checking that it is working properly;
  • resetting the clock if there has been a recent power outage;
  • checking whether the batteries on any wirelessly controlled thermostats need replacing; and
  • checking that the water pressure is sufficient to prevent the boiler from switching itself off.

Insulation

As property specialists Right Move point out, about a quarter of the heat in any home is lost through the roof.

As the very minimum, therefore, you might want to ensure that there is sufficient insulation in the roof space so that the ambient heat you are aiming to keep is not so easily lost – but remembering too that any pipes in the roof space need to be able to benefit from the heating system.

Security

You may have arranged empty property insurance because you recognise the additional risks faced by an unoccupied home. That does not mean that you need not take all reasonable precautions to keep it safe and secure – indeed, your insurer has the right to expect you to help mitigate the risk of loss or damage in this way.

Security is likely to involve rather more than simply locking doors and windows and typically extends to measures designed not to advertise the fact that the property is empty – the garden kept tidy, deliveries taken in, timer switches on strategic lights indoors, perhaps a neighbour’s car parked in the driveway etc.

Inspection

Your insurer is also likely to request that the empty property is visited and inspected on a regular basis and a log of such inspections kept. This might be done by friends or relations or reliable neighbours, although it is also a service offered by a growing number of security and property management companies.