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Looking for unoccupied home insurance?

Why might you be looking for this type of insurance?

Unoccupied property insurance relates to insurance cover for property that is temporarily vacant and unoccupied – and there may be several reasons for this:

  • you may be going on an extended holiday – a world cruise or to visit friends or relatives in far-flung places, for example;
  • you might be renovating or remodelling your home or let property, which becomes unsuitable for habitation while the works are in progress;
  • perhaps work has taken you away from home for a few months;
  • if you are the landlord of the property, there may be a longer than usual interval between current tenants moving out and new ones moving in; or
  • you may be the executor of property in probate, which remains empty until the final distribution of the estate’s assets.

Why is specialist insurance necessary?

In any of these examples, unoccupied home insurance is typically necessary because the cover which normally protects your home – standard home building and contents insurance or landlords’ insurance if it is let property – is almost certain to prove inadequate.

The insurance which safeguards your property when it is more or less continuously occupied typically reverts to a very restricted level of cover once it has been unoccupied for longer than a month or so (usually a period of between 30 and 60 consecutive days, varying from one insurer to another).

The reason for this is that insurers take the view that an empty home is more vulnerable to a wide range of risks. These include the possibility of a relatively minor incident, such as a dripping tap, developing into a damaging escape of water and the almost inevitable attraction of an empty property to intruders, burglars, squatters or arsonists etc.

Types of unoccupied property insurance

If you are looking for unoccupied home insurance that restores the comprehensive level of cover typically offered by your existing insurer, however, it is essential to distinguish between the different products available.

The majority of unoccupied property insurance policies, for example, still offer relatively restricted cover, often identified simply by their initials FLEA (Fire, Lightning, Explosion and Aircraft) or FLEE (Fire, Lightning, Earthquake, Explosion) – as mentioned in a forum on the website Landlordzone. Some policies may exclude specific risks. Others may provide wider cover, but with a lower level of protection.

To ensure that you obtain the appropriate, more comprehensive cover for your empty property, therefore, you might want to be sure to consult a specialist broker. Typically, this safeguards both the structure and fabric of the property against the full range of risks and, sometimes, may also extend to the contents. Comprehensive cover also preserves your property owners’ liability insurance – indemnifying you against claims which might be made by members of the public, neighbours or visitors to your home who are injured or suffer damage to their property.

So that you do not have to buy cover for a full year when the property may be empty for only a few months, you may tailor specialist unoccupied home insurance for periods of, say, just three or six months.