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Unoccupied property insurance FAQs

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Unoccupied property insurance FAQs

Unoccupied property insurance FAQs

When might I need unoccupied property insurance?

You are likely to need unoccupied property insurance when the home you live in or property which you are letting to tenants or renovating remains unoccupied for longer than a number of consecutive days (typically 30-45 days).

Why is a special type of insurance necessary?

Whether your home is normally covered by standard building and contents insurance or whether your let property is customarily protected by landlords’ insurance, you are almost certain to find that the cover becomes severely restricted or even lapses altogether once the property has been empty and unoccupied for a given number of consecutive days – typically, a period of between 30 and 45 days, depending on your particular insurer.

Why does the insurance upon which I normally rely no longer offer the protection I need?

The simple fact is that an empty property is vulnerable to considerably higher risks than one that is continuously occupied:

  • relatively minor maintenance problems and repairs if left unnoticed and unattended may develop into major crises; and
  • empty buildings have a way of becoming magnets for all manner of unwelcome attention – from squatters, to vandals and thieves.

Insurers respond to increased risks such as these by modifying and restricting the scope of cover offered or by removing it altogether.

For that reason, purpose designed unoccupied property insurance is necessary to maintain comprehensive protection for the vacant building.

So it is a niche insurance product?

That’s right. And as niche insurance specialists, at GSI Insurance we have written a detailed guide about the need for it and just what it covers.

This specialist form of cover may help to restore your confidence that a property remains securely and comprehensively protected even when you need to leave it unoccupied.

Is there anything more I need to do?

Insurance in general is based on the principle of the insured taking all reasonable steps to minimise or mitigate the risk of loss or damage – and unoccupied property insurance is no different.

In order to reduce the risks to which your property is exposed, therefore, you may be asked to:

  • arrange regular, logged inspections of the property and, where appropriate, instructing a specialist security firm to conduct those inspections on your behalf – the website of the company Safeguard Security gives some indication of the unoccupied building security services that may be available;
  • more modest properties, such as your own home, may also benefit from closer attention to the security you provide whilst it is standing empty;
  • making sure that doors and windows are securely locked and bolted is an obvious precaution;
  • as is the precaution of arranging for any deliveries to be promptly taken inside;
  • timer-switched lights in selected rooms may also help to give the impression that someone is at home – an impression that might carry greater weight if you ask a neighbour to park their car on your driveway from time to time;
  • maintaining the property and its surroundings in a neat and orderly state of repair is likely to reduce the need for emergency attention and, of course, avoids advertising the fact that the property is temporarily unoccupied.

Even with the protection of unoccupied property insurance, therefore, you are still expected to play your part in minimising the risk of loss or damage.

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