Home insurance for empty property
Finding home insurance for empty property can be a lot more difficult than it may sound. Policy providers in the UK are reluctant to cover properties which lie empty or abandoned for long periods of time and obtaining cover for a completely derelict property can be a real mountain to climb.
This article is designed to make you more aware of the issues that concern the large insurance companies and why they may charge you a lot of money for insuring an unoccupied house. it will also explain why providers tend of offer very short periods of cover for these kind of policies, as well as how rates vary greatly depending on the type of building you are trying to insure.
In addition to the points above, this article will also discuss:
- Types of insurance for empty property
- Information you should provide your policy provider
- How to compare insurance for unoccupied property
- The kinds of risks faced by an unoccupied building
- Unoccupied commercial property insurance
Home insurance for empty property
There are many different reasons why a house or building may lie empty and many different classes of unoccupied homes. This can range from your normal place of residence which is going to be unoccupied for a period of time right through to a derelict property you have purchased or an abandoned building you intend to renovate. It may also include a second home which you wish to protect or even an unoccupied commercial property you want to insure.
As you can see, the term “empty property” is very broad, so in this article we shall assume your building falls into one of the above categories. So where do you start when searching for the right type of cover with premiums you can afford?
House insurance for unoccupied and empty properties
Initially let us assume this is your normal place of residence which, for one reason or another, is going to lie empty for a period of time. For example, you may own a house or flat and you are going abroad to work for six months or more. Maybe you also own another home in a different part of the UK or abroad and your primary home will remain unoccupied for a period of time.
The bottom line is that insurance companies do not like properties remaining unoccupied for any length of time and therefore cover for this type of policy in the UK tends to be very short. Most UK based policy providers will not insure an empty home for more than 30-60 days. From their point of view it essentially means a house or flat is far more vulnerable if left completely unoccupied. When searching for a quote or speaking to your current provider, try to provide them with as much information as possible and any steps you are taking to protect your home while you are away. If, for example, you are going abroad to work for nine months and your flat in London is going to lie empty, they may well offer you a degree of cover but the premiums may be much higher than normal.
The type of cover and the areas they are willing to protect will also vary greatly, as will the premium cost depending on your individual situation. Do you have a burglar alarm installed? Will someone be able to keep an eye on the property for you while you are away? What, if any, measures are you taking to protect your home against fire? These may be just some of the questions your insurance company will ask.
How to compare insurance for unoccupied property
Due to the nature of this type of cover and the vulnerabilities mentioned above, as well as the premiums being much higher than normal home and contents cover, it’s wise to shop around and take the time to compare insurance for unoccupied or empty property. Use the selection of comparison websites available in the UK but don’t let your search stop there. Often the best option is to discuss the situation with your current policy provider, as an existing customer you may be entitled to a substantial discount or maybe they will be more familiar with your personal circumstances.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate when comparing insurance quotes. It can also be very worthwhile talking to smaller, local companies aside from the large national name brands. These smaller companies are more likely to offer you longer periods of cover and may have fewer restrictions of what will be protected in the policy.
Risks faced by an unoccupied property
Leaving a property empty is always a gamble and depending on your location and individual circumstances the risks also vary. Here are just a few of the risks more commonly associated with unoccupied properties and why insurance companies may be reluctant to cover your building for any length of time:
- Burglary – an unoccupied house is far more vulnerable to theft
- Fire – damage from fire can be more severe in an empty property
- Natural events such as flooding – empty properties have a slower response time
- Water & gas leaks – again, it can take longer for anyone to notice & respond to any problem
Short term unoccupied house insurance
If you simply require cover for a limited amount of time you can take one or two steps. Firstly you can talk to your policy provider and find out how long your current policy covers you for if you are away from home. Secondly you can search for quotes for short term unoccupied house insurance – if the property is going to be empty for a very short period of time such as 30-60 days, you may be able to secure a very reasonable deal and good cover. With many UK home insurance policies there is a built in window of time, such as 30 days, where your insurance company will cover you if you leave your house completely unoccupied. It may not be necessary to purchase separate short term unoccupied house insurance if your current policy allows for this type of cover, check with them before seeking quotes for a new home insurance policy.
Second home insurance
This is an entirely different situation. If you own a house which is not your primary residence then you need to shop around and compare quotes for second home insurance, particularly if the second home is likely to be unoccupied for longer periods of time. Talk you the company which covers your primary residence and explain the situation to them, you are far more likely to receive a more favourable quote from your current policy provider.