Planning to take an extended holiday? Perhaps you need to work away from home in another part of the country for a while? Do you have the builders in until an extension or other remodelling is complete? Perhaps you have inherited a property? In each one of these cases – and other possibilities – you may find yourself the owner of a property that is going to be empty for more than a month or so. That is when you might need unoccupied property insurance – and when you might want to contact a specialist provider such as those of us here at GSI Insurance.
There are essentially two good reasons for considering this specialist type of insurance:
- guidance published by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) warns that once your property has been empty and unoccupied for longer than about 30 days your insurer is likely to automatically restrict cover provided by your standard buildings and contents insurance or might even consider it to have lapsed altogether;
- nevertheless, even though it is currently vacant, you are still likely to want comprehensive insurance cover your property.
Why does the standard cover lapse?
An empty building is vulnerable to considerably more risks and perils than one which is in more or less continuous occupation.
When there is no one in the property, for example, a relatively minor issue of routine maintenance, such as a dripping tap, might turn into a major disaster as the place floods with water. Empty properties also seem like magnets for the unwanted attention of burglars and vandals.
It is because of this increased vulnerability that your insurer is likely to restrict or end cover once your property has been unoccupied for around 30 consecutive days – the exact period may vary from one insurer to another within the range of 30 to 60 days.
How do I maintain the protection the property needs?
Unoccupied property insurance does just what the title says – it extends comprehensive cover for your building and its contents even when there is no one at home for an extended period of time. It is purpose designed for just this job and written with the particular risks and perils of an empty property in mind.
As with any type of general insurance, however, you may still be required to play your part in minimising or mitigating those risks. Reasonable precautions, for example, might be:
- ensuring that the property has been regularly maintained and is currently in a sound state of repair;
- arranging for regular inspections of the property – by neighbours, friends or relatives or by a property management company you may care to instruct;
- keeping the property well illuminated – motion sensing lights on the exterior might be installed, for example, and internal lights in strategic rooms switched on and off by timer switches;
- removing items of particular value and portability to safe keeping;
- ensuring that the grounds and gardens of the property are also kept neat and tidy;
- arranging for any deliveries to be taken promptly into safe keeping; and
- considering asking a neighbour to park their car on your driveway from time to time to give the impression that someone is at home.
With the appropriate level of unoccupied property insurance and a few reasonable precautions taken by yourself, it is possible to keep your empty home safe and sound whilst you are away.
Further reading: Guide to unoccupied property