Even if you have taken the prudent precaution of fully insuring your home and its contents or if you have comprehensive landlord’s insurance for a let property, you might want to give especially careful thought to the changed circumstances once the premises have been left unoccupied as an empty property for a while.
An empty property attracts greater and potentially more diverse risks and perils than one which is in continuous occupation and use:
- a vacant building is more likely to attract the unwanted attentions of vandals, squatters, thieves and other intruders;
- an empty building is especially vulnerable to arson – and arson is the single largest cause of fires in the UK, say Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, with a staggering 2.3 million cases, causing 25,000 injuries and 900 deaths in the past decade;
- when there is no one on the premises full-time, otherwise minor maintenance problems may quickly develop into a major incident.
In other words, says the Association of British Insurers (ABI), you are more likely to have to make a claim on your buildings insurance if there is no one there.
Because of the increased risks and because you are more likely to make a claim, insurers are likely to demand a higher premium or consider your standard cover to have lapsed if your property has been empty for more than 30 to 45 consecutive days (the precise period varying slightly from one insurer to another).
What do you do if you have to leave your property empty for longer than this period and your insurer responds by excluding damage from such threats as damage from an escape of water, malicious damage or theft?
The answer lies in a simple and straight forward, standalone form of cover known by the self-explanatory title of unoccupied property insurance – a product with which we at GSI Insurance are thoroughly familiar, having published a guide to empty property. We can help you arrange the necessary cover quickly and at a competitive rate.
Playing your part
Restoring comprehensive cover for your empty property of course relies on your also playing your part to mitigate the risk of loss or damage.
Depending on the particular type of property you wish to insure and the insurer you choose, this might include such common sense precautions as:
- ensuring that it remains securely locked up at all times, preferably with some form of burglar alarm or intruder detection;
- taking every precaution to ensure that you are not advertising the property as empty – taking in deliveries that may be made, keeping the garden well-tended, leaving no ladders in plain sight and arranging for interior lights to turn on (via timer switches) at night;
- considering thwarting the common ruse of a burglar ringing in advance to see if anyone is at home simply by diverting your calls to an alternative number; and
- asking a friend or neighbour to park their own car on your driveway from time to time to help create the impression that there is in fact someone at home.
After the first shock of discovering that your standard insurance may not afford the protection you need if your property is left empty for a while, you might rest assured that a viable and cost effective alternative is nevertheless available in the shape of unoccupied property insurance.