If a property is going to be unoccupied for more than 30 days at any one time, the answer here is probably yes, you do need unoccupied property insurance. At the very least, you may need to have a conversation with your insurer to check they are still able to cover you, and any restrictions or requirements they might put in place.
Home owners, landlords, business owners, management companies and property developers are all examples of the people that can find themselves in this situation at one point or another, and it is much more common than you think.
How is it different?
Insurance policies are usually designed to fill a certain purpose. With property insurance, it’s understood that the building itself, along with the contents contained within are the things to be insured, and the general principle is to put you back in the same situation as you were before.
The things that set them apart from one another is the extent of the coverage, the conditions, and some of the additional covers that are usually tailored to meet the requirements of the type of client that needs them, and the way they use their property.
Unoccupied property insurance can be available for shorter periods of time, allowing for more flexibility. If short period cover is on offer, it tends to be for 3, 6 or 9 months, with month-by-month cover being extremely rare.
Levels of cover can also vary depending on the company, or be varied by the choice of the client. If a property is secure, and any water left in the system is drained, then accepting reduced cover for theft, malicious damage and escape of water could help save on some of the cost. The highest levels are very similar to what you would expect with an occupied property, but usually costs more than if the house was lived in.
It is usually a requirement that the property is inspected by a responsible adult, usually once every 1-2 weeks.
Why might you need it? – Some examples
If you’re moving home, and you are able to move into your new property while your old house is being sold. This allows you to protect your asset before you’re able to complete on the sale.
If you’re carrying out an extension, you and your family may not want to be living on a building site for a few months until it’s completed. Depending on how large the project is, this can either fit on an unoccupied property insurance policy, or on renovations insurance. If you’re unsure, it’s worthwhile contacting a specialist insurance company, such as us at GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Ltd. for guidance.
If you’re a landlord, and the property is between tenancies. This can be useful if you’re not able to find someone right away, or there are delays in tenant referencing.
You could also be inheriting a property through probate, or tasked with arranging insurance for a family member who has moved into care.
There are also a few examples where unoccupied property insurance could be an option, but may not be the most suitable:
After a serious claim, your home may become uninhabitable for a time. If it is damaged to the point where it can’t be lived in, the cost of that claim may make obtaining other insurance very challenging, and you may have to remain with your current company during this time.
If you are taking an extended holiday for more than a month at a time. This can also apply if you are working away. If it is your permanent, main home in question, you are probably better off with a policy allowing for extended unoccupancy instead. This will mean that more of your contents will remain insured under the definitions of the policy, and you will be entitled to alternative accommodation if your home is made uninhabitable following the claim.
If you’re not sure if unoccupied property insurance is right for you, we are on hand to discuss your requirements with you. If unoccupied property insurance is the perfect fit, or if there are better options available on the market, GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Ltd. have access to a wealth of schemes that will suit. Give us a call on 0800 612 9376 or click “Get a Quote” to complete our online form.