There is usually something about a vacant and unoccupied building. It doesn’t necessarily need to shout it out, but whether it is someone’s home or commercial premises you might generally have an overwhelming feeling that it is currently out of use. Having appropriate unoccupied property insurance is almost more important than having cover on your own home.
If it is apparent to you, of course, just think how obvious it might be to vandals, thieves, squatters and any other intruders likely to be up to no good.
The risks to unoccupied property
The signals that are given by an empty property help to illustrate why the risks and perils to which it is exposed are likely to be different in nature and in order to premises which are occupied.
It is not only unwanted criminal activity, of course. If a property is unoccupied, levels of routine maintenance may be allowed to slip and there remains the danger of a minor fault developing into a serious incident involving major loss or damage if there is no one on hand to spot it early enough.
The heightened risks naturally make insurers more than a little apprehensive. Therefore, the standard home insurance or landlord insurance which might protect the premises whilst they are in continuous use typically become seriously restricted or lapse altogether once the property has been unoccupied for a given number of days.
The precise interval may vary from one insurer to another and might be as relatively short a time as 30 consecutive days or as long as 60.
Even though the property may be vacant, your responsibilities and obligations as its owner do not diminish. Failure to comply with the provisions of the law may prove expensive indeed – such as if an injured party is on the property without your authorisation or illegally.
Unoccupied property insurance
Maintaining every aspect of protection you are likely to need for an empty property, therefore, calls for the specialist safeguards provided by unoccupied property insurance.
Here at GSI Insurance we have published a detailed guide to unoccupied property insurance.
Some of the important messages from this guide are just what you might do to help mitigate the risks your unoccupied property faces:
- fitting high quality locks and deadbolts, for instance, might be a simple but very effective way of discouraging opportunistic intruders;
- keep the garden and surroundings of the property well maintained and free of debris – with any ladders kept well out of sight;
- movement activated security lighting to the front and rear of your property may also discourage intruders, whilst timer-switched interior lights may help to give the impression that there is still someone at home;
- a similar impression might be created if you are able to persuade a neighbour to park their car in your driveway from time to time;
- deliveries, of course need to be taken inside and out of sight as soon as they are made; and
- regular, logged inspections of your vacant property need to be made – informally by friends or relatives or by specialists in empty property management and security.