Both landlords and private property owners often want to insure themselves against all the risks that their properties may face in order enjoy greater peace of mind. However, even if you have insurance, there is one area that often trips people up.
If your let property is left empty for an extended period of time (typically 30-45 consecutive days depending on your existing policy), then your landlord policy may no longer be valid.
Similarly, if you live in your property, you may go away on business for an extended period of time or take a career break. If your home stands empty, then your owner-occupier home insurance may no longer be valid.
This is because an unoccupied property (and by ‘unoccupied’ we mean a property in which no one is living, even if it fully furnished) is open to more risks than one where it is inhabited. For example, small leaks may go unnoticed, causing damage, and empty properties are more of a target for thieves etc.
That is why vacant property insurance (also known as empty property or unoccupied property insurance) exists.
What is an unoccupied property?
Firstly, it is important to know what an unoccupied property actually is. Different insurance policies will have their own rules on this, but the standard is often any period of time over 30-45 consecutive days where the building has no one living in it.
Why is this not covered on standard insurance?
It can be frustrating to think you are covered no matter how long your property is empty, but the fact is that an empty premises presents a greater risk to the insurer.
If no one is present, no one is there to deter squatters from breaking in or to spot another problem before it causes significant damage. You may be a responsible landlord and check your property regularly (as per the terms of your contract with your insurer) but it still more vulnerable than an occupied property.
Find an unoccupied property insurance provider
Fortunately, many companies are able to protect your investment and give you the peace of mind you need. At UKinsuranceNET we offer a number of empty property insurance offers to suit your needs and your budget.
Other things to consider are:
- the amount of excess that is payable (this is the first part of any successful claim that you are liable for);
- whether it is available for people who have been declared bankrupt;
- if unusual types of constructions such as grade listed buildings are included; and,
- whether it is available for properties that have been affected by flooding in the past.
Look after your unoccupied property
As well as insurance, you should make sure that you take steps to protect your building when it is empty. While it is all common-sense stuff, as a reminder this could include:
checking it regularly to look for signs of damp and damage (in fact, as part of your insurance cover with your insurer, you - or a nominated representative - are legally obliged to make regular, logged checks on your property); turning off the water and gas supplies; removing the build-up of post; keeping the exterior tidy, including the garden; installing an alarm.
There are also a number of guides to securing an empty property which can be found online, providing free advice and guidance.
Insurance for unoccupied properties is a very important element of cover that is often over looked by landlords and owner-occupiers alike. If your property is uninhabited or you require advice, please feel free to get in touch and we will be more than happy to help.