The small print of an insurance policy rarely seems to make very interesting reading, but here are a few reasons why you might want to break your normal habits and take a closer look:
- you become responsible for a property which is subject to probate and where no one is living until its future is decided;
- you are taking up a job that takes you away from home for several months;
- you have bought a new home but are still waiting to sell your original house;
- the builders are in and you are unable to live in your home for the several months that the works may take; or
- you are the landlord of a property with a vacancy of more than a month as former tenants have moved out but before new ones move in.
And the reason you might want to look at the small print of your standard home or landlord insurance policy? Because after 30-45 consecutive days of your property being continuously unoccupied, your existing cover is likely to lapse or become severely limited in the scope of its cover (insurers differ and the 30-45 day limit may be very slightly longer in some instances).
Fortunately, there is a readily available standalone insurance that may restore all the cover you need when your property is temporarily unoccupied. Aptly enough it is called unoccupied property insurance and may be arranged through specialist providers such as ourselves as UKInsuranceNET.
Although this ensures that your property remains adequately covered, insurers typically expect you to take a few common sense measures to help mitigate the risk of loss or damage. These might include obvious steps, such as ensuring that the windows and doors are securely locked and that any alarm system is properly armed (some insurers may grant you a discount if you install security systems such as alarms).
As you might imagine, apparently minor issues for repair or maintenance may quickly become major problems if there is no one at home to spot them and provide the necessary stitch in time. Therefore, you may be asked to ensure that the property is regularly inspected in order for any running repairs to be done.
Clearly, you are unlikely to want to advertise the fact that the property has become vacant, so ensure that the papers, milk and any other deliveries are either cancelled or taken in by a neighbour. Timer switches for your lights, television or radio may also help to give the impression that the home is still lived in.
One of the helpful - and entirely free - resources you might want to tap into is the Neighbourhood Watch scheme. There is almost certainly a scheme near you and you may check the details simply by entering your postcode at the national website for Neighbourhood Watch
From the website, you may also download a handy guide on home security - including those times when it is temporarily unoccupied. The guide is unlikely to contain many surprises, since many of the points raised are likely to be those also underlined by your unoccupied property insurer.