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What does unoccupied property insurance cover?

Here are our answers to some of the FAQs we receive on the subject of unoccupied property insurance.

We’d also recommend though that you read our GSI-Insurance Guide to Unoccupied Property Insurance which contains more detail.

Why doesn’t my buildings policy cover my property when it’s unoccupied?

This is a slight misconception because in fact, your buildings policy typically will – but only for a specified maximum period of time!

That period can vary depending upon your policy. Typically though, it’s likely to be somewhere in the range of 30-45 consecutive days.

So, you probably won’t have to worry in cases such as long weekends, visiting friends or holidays of average duration. By contrast, lengthy overseas assignments, gap years or properties left empty following a death or divorce, might all need to be considered in this context.

What’s the reason for this limit?

When your property stands unoccupied, some of the risks it faces change and increase.

For example, it’s an unfortunate fact of life that burglars prefer properties that are unoccupied, as there’s far less chance of them being disturbed.

As seems only logical, insurance providers need to reflect that changing risk profile in the type of cover they provide. This explains why unoccupied property insurance exists.

In passing, please note that your unoccupied property cover will typically require you to take a range of special precautionary risk-reduction steps for the property concerned. Some of those may relate to additional security.

Does this apply to all properties?

Typically, yes it does. Whether they’re let or owner-occupied would typically make no difference in this respect.

What happens if I don’t take out this cover when my property is empty?

That depends a little depending upon exactly what your standard buildings policy states in its terms and conditions.

Typically though, you may find that certain types of claim would be rejected once the insurer saw that your property was unoccupied at the time.

How do insurers know whether somewhere is occupied or not?

It is perfectly normal for insurers to undertake certain research in order to ascertain that a claim meets the conditions of the policy. They’re obliged to do so under professional duty of care provisions and to reduce criminal fraud.

As part of that, they will use some sophisticated means of checking whether or not your property was occupied at the time the incident took place.

If I remove all my possessions from the property, will that also remove the need for special cover?

No, typically it would not.

Whether your property is unoccupied and furnished or unoccupied and unfurnished (i.e. empty) will not make a difference to your need for such cover.

Why do people mention mortgages in this context?

It’s likely to be the case that your mortgage agreement has a condition in it that obliges you to maintain full comprehensive buildings cover on the property at all times.

That would include situations where it was unoccupied.

So, you’re probably under a legally binding obligation to put unoccupied property insurance in place in qualifying circumstances.

What would my mortgage provider do if I didn’t?

That would clearly be a matter for them but technically you might be in breach of contract.

They typically may have the right in such cases to demand that you immediately repay the total sum due to them and take legal action to enforce that.

How can I find this type of cover at a sensible price?

Why not contact us for a detailed discussion of your exact situation? We can then comment more meaningfully rather than in general terms.


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