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The importance of unoccupied property insurance


Have you ever wondered about the status of your insurance if you leave empty and unoccupied any property you own – be that your normal place of residence, buy to let accommodation or commercial, retail or industrial property?

You might find it worthwhile to give the matter more than a second thought.

Why is that? Quite simply because the insurance cover you thought you had – the cover which had been doing a perfectly adequate job whilst the building and its contents were in use – is unlikely to remain valid, or becomes significantly restricted, once the property has been vacated for longer than 30 to 45 consecutive days (the exact interval varies from one insurer to another). 

Why does that happen?

An empty property is generally regarded as being vulnerable to greater and more varied risks and perils than one that is in more or less constant use. When there is no one at home or on the premises:

  • an otherwise relatively minor repair or maintenance issue may develop into a full-blown disaster if there is no one to spot and report the emergency;

These are the kinds of risk likely to put off many regular insurers of residential and commercial property. Since they arise when the building is empty, that is when these insurers may regard the cover as having lapsed, significantly reduce its scope, or impose especially high premiums.

Unoccupied property insurance 

That is what makes specialist unoccupied property insurance so important – it restores the cover you need for any residential or commercial property whilst it stands empty and exposed to the peculiar risks of a vacant building.

As with most types of insurance, no one size fits all when it comes to empty property insurance. Fortunately, it may be tailored to suit your precise needs.

On occasion, you might want relatively basic cover to protect the structure and fabric of the building, with contents that probably amount to no great value. In other circumstances, you might want comprehensive cover which maintains the scope and nature of the protection you enjoy when the property is in more or less constant use.

Points to bear in mind when choosing your unoccupied property insurance

Many times, you might know exactly how long your property is going to lie empty; at other times, it might run over the period you originally scheduled – especially if there are building works or renovations in progress. You might want to choose a policy which not only allows you to arrange cover for less than a whole 12 months, but also one that is sufficiently flexible to allow changes of plan and a requirement for extending the period of cover.

In other words, it is important to inform your insurer exactly why the property is going to be left empty for a while – the reasons may affect the type, nature and scope of the unoccupied property insurance you need to arrange.

If the property is a holiday home, there may be quite lengthy and frequent occasions when it is left empty – and your insurance needs to reflect this.

In short, it is important to keep your insurer fully in the picture – both when arranging the cover in the first place and in the event of any subsequent changes. All of this may help to ensure that you find the appropriate niche in what is a fairly specialist type of property insurance.

Next steps

If you would like a quote for unoccupied property insurance or you have a question, please feel free to get in touch. At UKinsuranceNET we pride ourselves on offering tailor-made, cost-effective cover and will match you to the most appropriate policy for your needs.

Further reading: Why you should plan for the loss of your Commercial Property, plus, visit our Unoccupied Property Advice section of the website for further information and advice.