Home Insurance Do You Need Unoccupied Property Insurance?

Do You Need Unoccupied Property Insurance?

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Why is it that you might need purpose designed unoccupied property insurance simply because your home or the premises you own is left empty and vacant for a while?

I already have it covered

Even if you already have standard home insurance, or landlord’s insurance on a buy to let or commercial property, specialist empty property insurance is still going to be needed if it is unoccupied for more than a month or so.

That is because insurers typically restrict the level of cover in place – or consider it to have lapsed altogether – once the property has been unoccupied for longer than 30 to 45 consecutive days (the exact interval varies from one insurer to another). This might leave your property with only the barest minimum of cover – or none at all.

Why is cover removed in this way?

Insurance is all about risk. The simple fact is that insurers consider an empty or unoccupied property to represent a greater risk than one that is in normal and uninterrupted use.

The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) explains why this is so and points out that an empty property attracts more than its fair share of squatters – there are an estimated 22,000 of them in the UK at the moment – thieves, arsonists and vandals.

On top of this is the increased risk to the premises if no one is living there or on hand to attend to or report a minor matter requiring repair or maintenance before it develops into a major incident.

So why leave your property empty?

Whether it is your own home, an office or other commercial premises, or a property that has been bought to let, here are some of the reasons why it might be temporarily unoccupied:

  • you might be refurbishing, building an extension or thoroughly redecorating, for instance, and cannot use the premises during the building works;
  • you might even have bought a property that stood empty and unoccupied in order to do it up;
  • you might be going on a longer than usual holiday – a round the world cruise, for instance or to visit faraway friends or relatives;
  • your work might be the reason for having to move to a different part of the country, or abroad, for several months;
  • if the property is normally let, there might be a lengthy delay between the termination of one tenancy and finding new tenants to take on a new lease; or
  • a major accident, such as flooding or a fire, might have left the property temporarily unsuitable for use until repairs have been carried out.

Is there a solution?

So that your property retains the protection it normally enjoys, purpose designed unoccupied property insurance is required.

This may be used to restore the level of insurance cover that is in place whilst the property is occupied and in normal use. It may be tailored to suit the particular nature of the premises and the reasons for it standing empty – with fairly minimum cover at one end of the scale up to comprehensive insurance in the case of your own home.

Empty property insurance is also typically flexible enough to allow you to extend the period of cover if the vacancy lasts longer than you originally expected.