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Taking long holidays and unoccupied insurance

If you’re planning to take an extended holiday for more than 30 days – Unoccupied property insurance is often not what you need.

Taking long holidays and unoccupied insurance

Taking long holidays and unoccupied insurance

The main reason for this is that home insurance policies come with a number of additional covers as standard, as well as covering for the perils such as escape of water, storm, or flood, which can cause damage to your home. These are things you may take for granted, or may not even know you need until you have to put in a large claim.

Also, with unoccupied policies, the definitions of what is covered under each section is reduced. For example, clothing, valuables and televisions are all often excluded on an unoccupied policy, but are almost always included as standard on a contents insurance policy.

For that reason, you are better off seeking out a policy that allows for more than 30 days away at one time, sometimes called extended unoccupancy.

The level of cover

An extended unoccupancy policy will usually give you the same level of cover as you would expect on a normal household policy, subject to certain conditions being met, which we will discuss below.

You may find that some of the biggest risks to homes while left empty, such as escape of water, theft and malicious damage, may have a reduced claim limit, for example up to £2,500. While this may seem limiting, they are usually connected to the requirements to keep the property safe, and if you take those steps you’ll probably find the risk to your property is very small enough for it to be acceptable (for example, if you have drained all of the water out of the system, there is nothing to leak out and damage your home.

The requirements

With the property being left for an extended period, some of the risks associated with unoccupied properties come into play. For this reason, the insurer will probably ask for a few things from you to provide some protection from a big claim. These can include:

  • A regular inspection by a responsible adult, such as a family member or neighbour, usually every 7-14 days
  • Keep your property security in place, usually keeping doors and windows locked. If you have a high value of contents, this could extend to an alarm or keeping valuables in a safe
  • Preventing burst pipes and leaks, such as turning water off at the mains and draining the system, or maintaining the central heating at a low temperature to prevent freezing

The alternative

The other alternative is to arrange an unoccupied policy for the time you are away. While this is definitely an option, here are some reasons why it’s not worth considering:

  • Administration fees – Chances are, you will already have a standard home insurance policy in place. As you can’t insure a property twice, you are likely to incur a cancellation fee.
  • Less cover – Contents cover on unoccupied policies are restrictive, and won’t cover a lot of the contents you will leave behind. You will also miss out on alternative accommodation, so if your home can’t be lived in due to a claim while you are away, you will have to pay for your own hotel or short-term rental
  • Higher premiums – Unoccupied properties are considered much higher risk than a property that is occupied for most of the year. Arranging a policy with extended unoccupancy allowance is usually cheaper
  • Limited cancellation – Short-term policies are generally non-refundable. If you purchase a 6 month unoccupied policy, but you’re only away for 4 months, you are losing out on those two months of premium that you have paid for.

When your requirements are a little out-of-the-ordinary, it is always better to speak to someone with experience in the market so that you can get the best options for your individual circumstances. GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Ltd. have dealt with extended unoccupancy and unoccupied property insurance for a number of years, and are committed to getting the best cover in place for you. Give us a call on 0800 612 9376 or click “Get a Quote” to complete our online form.

Need some more information?

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

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