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Going on an extended holiday or business trip? Then don’t forget your unoccupied property insurance

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Have you finally had enough of cowering away this winter from assorted “beasts from the East”? Does a new financial year beckon you towards important business meetings and marketing campaigns abroad?

Then, an extended holiday or business trip overseas may be in the offing. 

If that is the case, don’t forget that the home you leave behind needs to be safeguarded with appropriate unoccupied property insurance – and here’s why:

Your current home insurance

When was the last time you looked in any detail at terms and conditions of your current home insurance? If you are planning an extended trip away and need to leave it empty and unoccupied for more than a month or so, you are likely to discover that the cover which usually protects your home becomes severely impaired – it might even lapse altogether.

The change might catch many homeowners unawares and leave the home seriously unprotected whilst they are away.

Insurers typically make the change because of the additional vulnerability of your property when there is no one living there. The weaknesses may be exposed in a number of ways, but here are just two examples:

  • an unoccupied home attracts all manner of unwanted attention from the likes of intruders, squatters, arsonists and burglars – London’s Camden Council, for instance, says that almost a half of all burglaries in their borough occur when a home is empty;
  • problems that might otherwise take just a moment or two to repair might develop into a major disaster is there is no one at home to spot the fault – a poor electrical connection, for example, might cause the spark that sets off a serious 

For reasons such as these, your current insurer is likely to restrict cover for your property once it has been unoccupied for between 30 and 45 consecutive days – the precise interval varying from one insurer to another.

Unoccupied property insurance 

Unoccupied property insurance is a specialist, standalone insurance product that restores the protection your home continues to need whilst you are away on that extended holiday or business trip.

Even this specialist product, however, may take a variety of different forms, with some policies restoring only very limited cover to your property. The cover might be limited to what are commonly known as FLEA risks (Fire, Lightning, Explosions and Earthquakes, and Aircraft only). This is unlikely to provide sufficient protection for your home and its contents whilst you are away.

You might want to make sure, therefore, that any unoccupied property insurance you arrange continues to provide the comprehensive level of safeguards currently offered by your existing home insurance. In other words, you might want to restore all the safeguards against loss or damage to your home and its contents from such potentially severe risks as storm damage, fire, flooding, escape of water, impacts, theft or vandalism – a level of cover detailed in our own Unoccupied Property Guide.

Unoccupied property insurance is also typically sufficiently flexible to allow for extensions of cover in the event that your business trip or overseas holiday needs to be extended for longer than originally planned.