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Renovations and unoccupied properties

If you’re carrying out extensive renovations on a property, whether it’s one you live in, rent out, or are developing to sell, there’s probably going to be times when it can’t be lived in.

Renovations and unoccupied properties

Renovations and unoccupied properties

A couple of things that it’s worth mentioning straight away, most property insurance policies 1) ask that you let them know before you start any renovations projects and 2) treat your property as unoccupied when it hasn’t been lived in for 30 days. This generally means the home is stayed in overnight, so having contractors on site throughout the day wouldn’t count. This also applies if the home isn’t furnished to a liveable standard, so if you’ve moved most of your contents out to stop them being ruined during the work, you might fall into this definition even sooner.

In a situation like this, you will almost definitely need a more specific policy. Unoccupied property insurance could well be enough, but for more extensive projects you may be better off arranging a more specialist renovations insurance.

The easiest way to determine your best option is to speak to a company that understands the market, and takes the time to find the best policy for your individual requirements.

As with most insurance, the level of risk determines the premiums companies charge and the terms they apply. For example, an unoccupied property can be more prone to escape of water, theft and vandalism claims. A property undergoing major renovations may develop new issues while it is undergoing transformation, or could incur damage as a result of faulty workmanship. Combining the two together can be a challenging prospect.

If you are planning any kind of renovation, it’s recommended to speak to your current company sooner rather than later so they can make the necessary arrangements:

  • painting, decorating and improvements such as a fitted bathroom or kitchen, for example, may be considered straightforward enough that you won’t need a specialist policy, unless you’re leaving it empty for longer than the allowed period. If you are going to be out for longer than 30 days, an unoccupied property insurance policy will probably be sufficient.
  • if you are building an extension however, many standard insurance policies specifically exclude loss or damage arising from these works or cover for the extension itself. While this will usually be covered by your contractor, you may want to consider renovations insurance, which will give you some cover for the part-built extension if it suffers damage that the contractor wasn’t responsible for.
  • if major building works are planned, especially if the property is going to be uninhabitable, your current insurer may no longer be prepared to cover the risk, and the amount of work could be too much for an unoccupied property to accommodate.

Renovations insurance can be used to protect the physical works in progress against loss or damage as well as the existing structure and fabric of the building during property renovation, provided that you have arranged insurance before work begins. For example if you are halfway through an extension that is lost due to a claim, it would cover for the materials and labour that was lost. It may also extend to building materials you own.

It can also provide cover for any liability you are faced with as a property owner, in case a member of the public is injured as a result of the project, such as a tool or building material falling off scaffolding to the pavement below.

GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Ltd. have spent a considerable amount of time working with unoccupied properties, properties undergoing renovation, and everything in between. Give us a call on 0800 612 9376 or click “Get a Quote” to fill in our online form.

Need some more information?

Why not read one of our other unoccupied property insurance guides?

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