Sometimes a property might sit unoccupied for a period of time. Whether you’re an owner-occupier or landlord letting your property, once it’s unoccupied you should be considering the insurance implications carefully, and arrange specific unoccupied property cover.
What is unoccupied property?
At GSI Insurance, we know that properties can become unoccupied for any one of many reasons:
- you’re taking an extended holiday or are going to take an extended business trip;
- builders are working on your property and while they’re doing so, it’s uninhabitable;
- you’ve inherited a property from a relative, and it’s now standing unoccupied while you try to sell it;
- you’re struggling to find tenants or are simply choosing not to let (even in today’s marketplace, that can happen – as this empty property survey report indicates).
Your property insurance will typically include protection for such situations, but ONLY up to a specified maximum number of consecutive days. That is often somewhere in the region of 30-45 days and the exact figure will be contained in your policy.
If you exceed that period, elements of your cover may be at risk.
Why this is so
Insurance providers know from global claims statistics that typically a property is at higher risk when it’s unoccupied. To take just a few examples:
- warning signs such as a leak, storm damage or burning smell, will go unnoticed and no corrective action will therefore be taken. So, floods and fires might be more of a problem;
- burglars and vandals prefer empty properties and the far lower chances of discovery while they’re engaged in the crime.
Who this affects and under what circumstances
This policy condition can typically be found in property insurance covering virtually any category of residential property.
Whether your property is owner-occupied or let, will not make a difference.
It’s also important to note two further points here:
- the reasons your property is unoccupied will usually not be considered. This means even if your situation has arisen under circumstances beyond your control, such as you being extensively delayed on an overseas business trip, the condition will apply;
- whether the property concerned is empty or not (i.e. furnished or unfurnished) will also not be relevant.
If you make a claim on your property policy and the insurer finds that it was, by the policy’s definition “unoccupied” at the time the incident took place, then your claim may be rejected.
If you’re wondering, insurers do have methods and techniques at their disposal for checking the occupancy status of a property at the time the problem which led to the claim arose.
Unoccupied property insurance
If you know your property will move into this status or even suspect that it’s a possibility, you should be considering protecting your interests through unoccupied property insurance.
This is straightforward cover that will make sure your protection is continued in such circumstances.
Unoccupied property insurance may bring with it some additional conditions that the policyholder will need to comply with. These usually involve things such as making arrangements for periodic property inspections while it’s unoccupied and taking some additional security steps such as using approved locks and attempting to disguise the fact to prying eyes that your property is, in fact, unoccupied.
These conditions are typically not complex or onerous and assuming you adhere to them, your unoccupied property insurance will give you peace of mind in situations where your major investment is concerned.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for further information.