Although some homeowners don’t realise, a buildings policy will cover for a period of unoccupancy, but only for a period of time, usually 30-45 days. This allows for weekends away, holidays, or the period of switching over between tenants if you rent your home. For holiday homes and holiday lets, it is again rare that they are occupied every day of the year.
The period varies depending on the policy. The best way to find out is to go to the “Definitions” section and look up the definition of unoccupied.
Generally this applies to all properties – Owner occupied, let out, holiday home or commercial property.
This limit is set for several reasons. When a property is unoccupied, some of the risks it faces increase, such as the risk of break-in, since the thieves have less chance of being disturbed, or escape of water, if a leak develops without being picked up on. Because of this, unoccupied property insurance is available as a standalone product and provides cover that is more appropriate.
Included as part of this are usually some precautionary or risk-reducing measures to cut down on some of the biggest losses. While this can be difficult to manage in some circumstances, if the insurers are able to cut down on big losses, it helps them offer cover for unoccupied policies at affordable cost.
As a very rough estimation, unoccupied property insurance can cost around double what it would as a lived-in home, and it may be tempting to leave your existing cover in place. It is worth being cautious here – Depending on the conditions of your policy, you may find that most types of claim would not be insured for under a standard policy, and sometimes may not cover you at all. A better way to reduce your cost is accepting a reduced level of cover, or a shorter length of policy. For example, a number of the policies we offer have three levels of cover, and more details on the policy levels are shown at the bottom of this page.
Removing all of the contents from the property is not going to remove the need for restrictions, or a specialist cover. After all, the biggest concerns are fire, escape of water, and malicious damage, which all fall under the buildings section. Even if there are no contents inside, you still need unoccupied property insurance.
While it may be tempting to continue on without disclosing unoccupancy, insurers have a duty to ensure that a claim meets the conditions of the policy, and reduce fraud. They will have access to a number of means to check whether or not the building was occupied at the time of any loss, and will investigate. It is not worth taking the risk of non-disclosing the unoccupancy of a building. As well as the insurer, it is also possible to fall foul of your mortgage company.
It’s likely that your mortgage agreement has a condition requiring that comprehensive buildings cover is in place at all times, including while it is unoccupied. It is likely a legal obligation that you have sufficient cover in place, and technically a breach of contract if you were to just leave it, so it is definitely not worth the risk.
While other options are available, a lot of the policies we arrange for clients fall under one of three levels:
– Level 1 Cover – Fire, Lightning, Explosion, Earthquake & Aircraft only
– Level 2 Cover – Full Standard Cover With Limits – See below
- Escape of water limited to a maximum cover of £2,500
- Theft and malicious damage is limited to £2,500 maximum loss
– Level 3 Cover – Full Standard Cover – No Limits (Note there may be some restrictions in the first 30 days)
At GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Ltd. we are specialists in dealing with unoccupied property and will be confident in getting you the right balance of cover. Give us a call on 0800 612 9376 or click “Get a Quote” to complete our online form.
Need some more information?
Why not read one of our other unoccupied property insurance guides?
- Unoccupied Property Insurance
- Inheriting an unoccupied home
- Why do houses become unoccupied?
- Why are unoccupied properties higher risk?
- Renovations and unoccupied properties
- Taking long holidays and unoccupied insurance
- Keeping your unoccupied property safe
- Who needs unoccupied property insurance?
- Case Study – Bringing unoccupied homes in Manchester back into use
- Unoccupied Insurance Guide
- Unoccupied Insurance FAQs
Last updated January 2022