It’s almost uncanny how easy it is to spot an empty property. It might not look so different to the home next door whilst the occupants are out at work, but the unoccupied property typically exudes an altogether different impression.
It is just this air that seems to prick the especial interest of burglars, vandals, squatters, arsonists and all manner of ne’er do wells.
In addition to the unwelcome attention an unoccupied property may attract, there is the additional risk that when it is empty and no one is on hand to deal with or report some relatively minor maintenance issue, it may rapidly develop into a major incident with the potential for causing considerable damage – the property management group VPS, for instance, suggests that a flood or escape of water may cost an average of six times more if the property is empty rather than occupied.
Existing home insurance
The combination of these and other risks is enough for many insurers to reduce the level of cover extended once the property has become empty – restricting those risks to FLEA insurance only (protection against fire, lightning, earthquakes, and aircraft only) or FLEEA cover (which also include the risk of damage or loss caused by explosions).
Still other insurers may consider the insurance cover to have lapsed altogether once the property had become unoccupied.
These are actions typically taken once the property has been unoccupied for as little as 30 to 45 consecutive days.
Unoccupied property insurance
Thankfully, there is an answer to the vulnerability of your home no longer being covered by adequate cover – and that answer lies in unoccupied property insurance.
Since this is a specialist, niche form of insurance, you might want to consult a specialist provider such as ourselves with the expertise and experience of providing the cover you may need – you might be content with a relatively modest level of cover or you may need the more comprehensive protection previously offered by your normal home insurance policy.
Empty property insurance offers an entirely standalone form of cover, for which you may apply online from certain specialist providers.
This allows you the opportunity to effect immediate protection to your property if you know it is going to be left empty for longer than a month or two. Is typically flexible enough to be able to extend the period of cover if the vacancy lasts longer than initially anticipated and the premiums you pay may be limited to the number of months for which cover is required rather the normal full 12 months.
As you might expect, of course, despite the protection provided by unoccupied property insurance, you are still responsible for taking all reasonable precautions to reduce and mitigate the risk of loss or damage to an empty property.
These precautions are largely a matter of common sense – involving care and attention to the security of the building, to ensuring that it is maintained in a good state of repair and arranging for someone – whether a professional property management company or trusted individual already known to you – to visit and inspect the property on a regular basis.
If you fail to show this level of responsibility, your insurance company might consider that there has been contributory negligence on your part and reduce the settlement made in the event of any claim.