House Insurance When Unoccupied

Image showing why you need house insurance when unoccupied
Insurance cover for an unoccupied house is essential, even if the property is not in good condition. Photo © valenta (cc-by-sa/2.0)

House insurance for unoccupied properties

Having comprehensive home insurance is a priority at the best of times, but if you are planning to be away from home for an extended period, it’s also important to make sure you have house insurance when unoccupied as well as when you are present.

House insurance for unoccupied properties is a minefield in itself, with many small-print clauses and conditions which can be stressful to the homeowner. This guide is to help you understand which what can happen to your home insurance policy when your house is left unoccupied.

Some of the topics covered in this home insurance help guide are:

  • House insurance when unoccupied – why you need it
  • How to protect your unoccupied property
  • House insurance when unoccupied for 30, 60 or 90 days
  • Getting a quote for unoccupied property insurance
  • Useful UK home insurance resources

House insurance when unoccupied – why you should obtain cover

We all have to leave our homes from time to time. it could be you are away for a week or two, visiting family or on holiday. Some people work away from home or abroad and occasionally situations arise when we have to leave our homes empty for longer. Whatever the reason you are not in your normal residence it is of vital importance you have home insurance cover when it is unoccupied or you could pay a much larger price.

Unoccupied Property Resources:
Insurance for empty property
Unoccupied commercial property insurance
Unoccupied domestic property insurance

How to protect your unoccupied property

If you intend to leave your home unoccupied for any length of time it is important you take steps to secure your property. This is not just for the security of your home, it can also help reduce your home insurance premium or even get you insurance cover for your house when it is left unoccupied for an extended period of time.

Some of the measures to protect your unoccupied home are:

  • If possible, fit an intruder alarm system
  • Use IP cameras to remotely log in and view your home remotely
  • Ask a friendly neighbour to keep an eye on your home
  • Make sure all window and door locks are secure and functional
  • Use smoke detectors around your home, preferably with remote alerts
  • For homes in the country, inform the local police of your absence

Security can help reduce your home insurance premium

Taking these security measures can not only protect your unoccupied home but may be enough to satisfy your home insurance provider that you have taken every step possible. Under normal circumstances, most UK house insurance providers will include a 30 day absence clause in your policy, meaning you can leave your home for up to 30 days.

Image showing a completely empty property in the countryside
An empty or derelict property is not the same as an unoccupied property. Photo © M J Richardson (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Unoccupied House Insurance FAQ

Can I get house insurance when my home is unoccupied?

Yes you can, but you should discuss your situation with your home insurance provider. Whether you are covered by your current home insurance policy or not if your property is unoccupied depends entirely on your individual circumstances and the status of your current home insurance policy.

What is unoccupied property insurance?

Unoccupied property insurance is home insurance which covers your home when it is unoccupied. In other words, if you are going to be away for an extend period of time, unoccupied property insurance will cover your home in the event of something going wrong, such as a fire or flood.

What is the difference between an unoccupied and an empty property?

An unoccupied property is a home which is normally lived in, but is unoccupied due to different circumstances, such as being on holiday. An empty home is not lived in, usually has no furniture and is not your normal place of residence.

House insurance when unoccupied for 30 days

As mentioned above, many UK home insurance companies do allow properties to remain unoccupied for a certain period of time, usually one month or 30 days. This is because all of us go away from time to time, even if it is only a week on holiday or going to visit friends and family.

However it is a lot more unusual to be away from home for more than 30 days. For this reason, if your property is now more vulnerable, UK insurance companies are reluctant to provide house insurance when unoccupied for 30 days or more.

Remember, in the eyes of your home insurance company, an unoccupied property is not the same as an empty property. Unoccupied means a home which is normally lived in. Empty properties are devoid of furniture and personal belongings and are not lived in.

Insurance when unoccupied for 60 days

This is the area where many homeowners are caught out when something goes wrong. It is a misconception to think you have home insurance and your property is covered no matter what, this is probably not the case. A period of one month is normally included in most policies, but if your home is unoccupied for 60 days, this may have cancelled your home insurance policy or some areas of your policy cover.

For example, your normal home insurance may cover your property for one month as per your policy. However, in the small print, it may be that unless otherwise arranged certain aspects of cover may be withdrawn, such as fire and flood protection. This means a nasty surprise if something should go wrong after 50 days, such as a leak or burst water pipe, or worse still, a fire in your property.

For this reason it is important to discuss the situation with your normal home insurance provider and specifically ask them for house insurance when unoccupied, as this is a different class of cover. You must check your home insurance policy and talk to your provider to ensure you have full protection if your property is unoccupied for up to 60 days.

Image showing an unoccupied house
If your home is left unoccupied for a long period of time it may be expensive to obtain unoccupied insurance cover. Photo © Des Blenkinsopp (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Home insurance when unoccupied for 90 days

It can be incredibly difficult to obtain home insurance when unoccupied for 90 days or more, but it is not impossible. The main thing to do is talk to your home insurance company and keep them informed of your intentions.

If you do not inform your current provider and you leave your home unoccupied for 90 days or more, you may find that your policy was automatically cancelled in your absence. They may not inform you this has happened and if something goes wrong, you may only find out when you try to make a claim.

If you are going away for more than 90 days, take every step necessary to keep your home insurance company fully informed. In addition, take the measures above to protect your empty home and make certain that if your property is left unoccupied for an extended period of time, that you are fully covered and insured. After all, your home and contents are at risk.

House insurance when unoccupied long term

There are many good reasons why a property could remain unoccupied for a long period of time, such as a second home or after a bereavement, however these are different classes of insurance and it is important to understand the difference. An empty second home has it’s own class of insurance and there are ways of saving money when you insure an empty home.

Cover for property after a family bereavement is also a specific type of insurance and you should talk to your existing home policy provider about insuring a house after someone dies.

Your best course of action is to speak to your current home insurance provider as they are most likely to be familiar with the circumstances of the property and you as a customer. If you are leaving the country for 3 years and you ask about house insurance when unoccupied for a long period such as this, you may find the insurance company reluctant to provide comprehensive cover. In some cases they may change the class to the property to an empty home.

Useful Unoccupied Property Resources:

5 tips to protect your empty property by Intelligent Insurance
Unoccupied property tips from Hertfordshire Police

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