Unoccupied Property Insurance
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What is unoccupied property insurance?
Owning a property comes with a lot of responsibilities. Property is a significant investment, so making sure the building or its contents are safe and secure is vital. You need to keep on top of regular maintenance. A leaky roof or flooder cellar can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage.
Keeping on top of all these jobs can be even more difficult if you are not living at the property, even for a short period of time. Many home insurance policies are only designed to cover properties which are lived in all year round.
If your home is going to be vacant for any period of time – for example, an extended business trip, or if it’s a rental property and is between tenants, you need to make sure you have appropriate cover in place.
Do I need unoccupied property insurance?
There are many reasons your property might be unoccupied for a period of time. If any of the following apply to you, it could be worth talking to your insurer about a specialist policy to make sure you are covered if the worst happens.
If your property is a second home or used for holiday lets, there is likely to be periods when it is left vacant, either out of season or between lets.
Extended holidays or business trips
Many people choose to take extended trips. Perhaps it’s that once in a lifetime round the world trip you’ve always dreamed of, or maybe you need to work in another city for a contracted period. If your home is unoccupied while you are away, you still need to have insurance cover in place
Moving to a new house can be a stressful time. If you move into your new house before your old place is sold, it may be empty for a period of time before the new buyer move in. The house is still your responsibility at this point, so it pays to make sure you have insurance.
If you inherit a property but choose not to live there, the chances are it will be vacant for a period of time. Theft or damage can be a risk in this situation. Having unoccupied property cover will provide peace of mind until you decide how to use the property.
How long does my home have to be empty?
Most standard home insurance policies will cover short periods of absence, like holidays or weekends away.
If you are planning to be away from your home for more than 30 days, you should inform your insurer.
Why do I need unoccupied property insurance?
Having insurance for your home and contents can protect you if anything goes wrong. If your home needs repair after damage by fire, flood or storm damage, insurance can cover these costs.
Likewise, if your home is burgled, having insurance means you will not be left out of pocket.
Unoccupied property insurance is important because insurers consider homes which are left empty as being at higher risk than occupied homes. Any damage which occurs to an empty home is likely to go unnoticed for a longer period of time. This makes the cost of repairs likely to be higher, as more damage is done.
Likewise, empty homes are an easier target for thieves. Vandalism or break-ins are more likely if there is no-one living in the property to deter criminals.
What does unoccupied home insurance cover?
Not all insurance policies are the same, so you will need to talk to your provider to ensure you have the cover that is right for your particular set of circumstances.
Most unoccupied property policies will cover the same kinds of circumstances as normal home insurance:
- Attempted theft
- Flood damage
- Storm damage
- Water damage
Check with your provider if you have items of high value in your unoccupied property, as these may not be covered if no-one is resident. You might need a separate policy, or your insurer might impose conditions like fitting alarms or security cameras.
How to save money on unoccupied property insurance?
The cost of insuring unoccupied homes comes down to a question of risk. The lower the risk, generally, the lower the cost.
Shop around – compare quotes from a range of different insurance providers.
Increase your security – house alarms, CCTV cameras and deadlocks can all reduce the chances of theft or break-ins at your property. This could reduce the cost of your premium.
Keep your property well maintained – if you are unable to visit your unoccupied property on a regular basis, it can be difficult to spot maintenance issues. Acting quickly can prevent damage escalating, and high claim costs. Employing a property maintenance firm to keep an eye on things could reduce the risk of a claim, and lower your policy costs.
What does unoccupied property insurance cost?
The exact cost of insurance will depend on a range of factors. The size, value and location of the property will all have an impact on the cost of a policy, as this affects the amount an insurer is likely to have to pay when you claim.
What happens if I don’t tell my insurer my property is unoccupied?
As with most policies, your cover will only be valid if it is based on accurate information. If you rely on a standard home insurance policy, and your home is damaged or broken into during an extended period of absence, you will not be covered. This could leave you significantly out of pocket, so it is always worth having the right cover in place.
Do I need to turn off services in an empty property to be covered?
Not usually, no. While water or fire damage is always a risk in unoccupied properties, many insurers will not require you to turn off your water, gas or electricity as a condition of insurance. In many cases, having services connected can actually deter thieves, reducing the risk of a claim.
I am a landlord with an empty property. Do I need unoccupied property insurance?
Most insurers will offer a specialised landlord insurance policy, which is specifically designed to cover the needs of rental landlords. These types of policies will usually allow a period of up to three months vacant for each property, which is useful to cover gaps between tenancies.