Did you know that if a property you own is left empty for a number of consecutive days, you may not be completely covered by your standard home or landlord insurance? Many people don’t know this, and it can be extremely costly should anything happen when the property is left empty. With that in mind we’re going to talk about vacant property insurance, why you would need it and what it does and doesn’t cover.
What is vacant house insurance?
Vacant property insurance (sometimes referred to as vacant house insurance or unoccupied house insurance) is a specific policy that protects your property when it is left unoccupied for longer periods.
As we mentioned above, when a property is left vacant for extended periods, standard home insurance may become invalidated or be severely restricted in terms of the cover it provides. This is because insurers see your property as being at greater risk when it is vacant.
You should consider getting vacant property insurance in the following circumstances:
- The property is for sale and unoccupied
- You’re a landlord and you’re between tenants
- It’s a holiday home or a home you’ve inherited in which you don’t live full-time
- You’ve just purchased a property but won’t be moving in for a while
- You’re away on an extended holiday
- You’ve been taken into long-term medical care
- The building is being renovated and isn’t safe to live in
- You’re waiting for a probate
With Standard home insurance you only normally get cover if your home is empty for up to 60 days. If anything happens outside this period you won’t be covered which is why vacant house insurance is a worthwhile investment.
What does vacant property insurance cover?
By taking out vacant house insurance you’re making sure that your home is still protected against unexpected events that cause loss or damage. But what is actually covered by this type of policy? Well, it varies depending on your insurance provider. Some unoccupied house insurance providers limit their cover to just fire damage. However, a comprehensive policy will ensure you’re covered for:
- Storm, flood or fire damage - caused by natural disasters
- Escape of water - if a pipe bursts while you’re away
- Theft or attempted theft - If someone successfully breaks in or attempts to break into your home and steals your belongings
- Vandalism & malicious damage - any criminal damage that occurs
- Public liability insurance - this covers any damage caused by a property that you are responsible for such as a roof tile coming loose and injuring a person/damaging a car
What isn't covered with vacant property insurance?
Again, every provider is different so you’d need to thoroughly check any policy you take out. However, a couple of things don’t tend to be covered under vacant property insurance. These can include:
- Unforced entry - leaving your doors and windows unlocked or open and someone is able to just enter the property without using force, you’re unlikely to be covered
- Building work - some insurers can refuse to cover incidents that happen during major works such as an extension or repairs to the home’s structure
- Contractors - if contractors you’ve hired are working on your home whilst you’re not there, you may not be covered for any damage they cause. However, any contractors you use should have their own insurance to cover any damage.
What if I forget to tell my insurer my property is unoccupied?
If you forget to tell your insurance provider that your home is unoccupied you risk invalidating your home insurance policy if you need to make a claim. This can even happen if you do inform them, but it ends up being unoccupied for longer than the time set out in your policy details. This means you won’t be covered for any damage caused to the property or any belongings stolen and you’ll have to pay for everything yourself.
Tips for leaving a house unoccupied
If your home or property is going to be left unoccupied there are certain things you can do to reduce the chances of any damage occurring:
- Activate security systems
Security systems can be invaluable to unoccupied properties and can prevent break-ins. Alarms are an obvious method of security but even something as simple as motion detection lights on the outside of the property can be a great security feature. You should also make sure that all windows and doors are locked securely before the property is left empty.
- Arrange for regular visits to the property
Regular visits to the property are not only beneficial for checking if any damage or accidents have occurred (and therefore minimising further damage), they’re also a really good crime deterrent. Thieves and vandals are good at house watching and if they see that no one has been to a property for a couple of months, they’ll seize the opportunity.
- Small things like collecting post, maintaining the garden or turning a lamp on can be excellent ways of making sure a vacant property doesn’t look vacant.
If you can’t do this yourself and have no friends or family that can help with this, contact a property maintenance professional who can take care of these visits on your behalf.
- Remember your utilities
If your property is going to remain unoccupied for an extended period of time, it can be a good idea to turn off the utilities in order to reduce the risk of accidental damage such as escape of water. A burst pipe can go unnoticed for a long time and cause a lot of damage. With that in mind, you might want to consider turning off the water supply.
However, you may want to run the heating system on a timer during the winter months to reduce the chance of damp and mould occurring.
- Take out empty home insurance
We can never plan for every eventuality and even if we do, unfortunate things can still happen. But with empty house insurance, you’ve got peace of mind that if the worst happens - you’re fully covered.
Where to find vacant property insurance?
If you have an unoccupied property then you need vacant property insurance. We can provide you with a competitive quote that ensures you’re covered should the worst happen. Call now on 01325 346328 or Click Here to Get a Quote