Many property owners do not realise that they are not automatically covered when their property remains unoccupied for an extended period of time. This applies to both landlords who let their properties out to tenants as well as owner-occupiers.
The whole reason for insurance in the first place is to protect your investment. It is therefore no good if you are not covered when you think you are. If you leave your property empty, typically for 30-45 consecutive days or longer, it can be a shock to find out that your insurance policy does not cover it. This can be especially frustrating if you only find out when you try to make a claim.
While many standard landlord insurance or owner-occupier home insurance policies will cover an unoccupied property for up to 30-45 consecutive days, after that they may stop providing cover, or provide a significantly reduced level.
There are several reasons for this, such as:
- an empty property being more of a target for thieves or squatters;
- something like a small water leak may go unnoticed in an unattended property and cause serious damage before it is spotted etc. More damage equals a higher claims amount, which the insurer may not have anticipated.
Why you may need unoccupied cover
There are many reasons why you may have to leave your property empty for a long period of time.
If you are the owner-occupier, you may:
- go away on business overseas for a few months;
- plan a career break or a gap year;
- want to move into another property while you make renovations, which could last for many months;
- have inherited a probate property, which could take some time before you can sell it.
If you are the landlord, you may need to make repairs to your property or carry out a refurbishment. Or you may simply spend longer than expected trying to find tenants.
One of the things that many people ask when they are looking for vacant property insurance is whether they can just get it on a short-term basis.
Every insurer is different, but some providers may offer short term cover. For example, at UKinsuranceNET we are happy to help find you short term empty property cover.
This can be more convenient if you are only expecting a short period of no occupancy when you first let a property out, or if you know that some renovation work will take a specific amount of time.
What to look for in a policy
As already mentioned, every policy is different. However, some typical things that you may want to look out for include:
- trace and access cover for potentially expensive problems like damage caused by tradesman when looking for something related to an insured event such as a water leak;
- cover from the inception of the policy, useful if you know that you have to decorate the property before finding tenants for example;
- liability for the property owner to a high level;
- no cancellation charges applied when you only require this type of insurance for a short period of time.
Find the insurance you need
Insurance for an unoccupied property is something that landlords as well as private owners must take seriously. Finding out too late that your property is not covered when you try to claim can be a distressing situation, so it is well worth finding out about this type of protection in advance.