Empty home insurance – 5 ways to save money
The rising cost of empty home insurance can be very expensive for many homeowners in the UK. This guide will show you 5 ways to save money on your unoccupied home insurance and cut those rising premium costs.
Let’s take a look at how to reduce those annual house insurance premiums along with some measures you can take to protect your property and make your case more appealing to UK home insurance providers.
Shop around for cheaper empty home insurance
It may sound obvious but one of the best ways to save money quickly is to shop around for empty home insurance. Many homeowners who are unfamiliar with the intricacies of insuring a house will go to a well established insurance brand, a company their parents or friends use or perhaps a local company in their town.
While this is common it doesn’t necessarily mean you are getting the best deal. Shop around, get quotes and compare prices for empty home insurance before you make your decision. You have nothing to lose by obtaining a quote and many insurers in the UK have wildly varying policies which can make the difference between being accepted or rejected for cover.
Take advantage of the power of the internet to compare prices from as many different home insurance companies as possible. Don’t be afraid to deal with a company you are not familiar with or have never heard of. There are many smaller specialised insurance companies which may extend or offer insurance cover while your property is unoccupied.
Due to the very nature of insuring a house which is not occupied it mans that many companies simply refuse to provide reasonable cover or if they do, it may be for a very limited amount of time. Try to explain your situation to as many insurance providers as possible, along with any steps taken to protect your property.
Secure or renew all door & window locks on your property
If your house or flat is going to remain unoccupied for some length of time it is very important to make sure the property is protected and secure. Take as many measures as possible, such as replacing older locks on doors and windows, and even securing the perimeter to your property if you are able to do so.
If you have an older house then consider completely replacing any doors or windows which are older and out-of-date, such as single-glazed windows. Sometimes in older homes these small windows, often located at the back of the house, can provide a fairly easy point of entry for intruders.
If you intend to leave your home empty for more than a few weeks then take any steps you can to replace these vulnerable entry points. Keep notes and once completed explain to your home insurance company what you have done, along with any other security measures you may have taken.
Install a burglar alarm to protect your unoccupied house
It may cost somewhere between £800 and £3000 to install a good quality burglar alarm system but doing so will hugely increase your chances of successfully obtaining insurance cover for your empty property. From the point of view of the insurance provider, you are not there and the property is totally unoccupied. What happens when someone tries to break into the property?
This is especially true if your house is located in a rural area, such as a property in the countryside. While the crime rate in the area may be lower than in a town or city, the fact that your nearest neighbour is half a mile away can make all the difference. Again, if you invest in a burglar alarm system then tell your insurance company about it immediately.
Use IP cameras to monitor your empty property
IP cameras are a cheap and very effective way to monitor your property from anywhere in the world with internet access. Different companies offer different complimentary services, such as remote monitoring and recording, but even a fairly cheap and basic system can provide a high degree of protection.
Many IP cameras have a photo mode which works in conjunction with their built-in motion sensors. When someone comes into your property a photo or a series of photos are taken when the motion sensor detects movement and you receive an alert. At any time you can log on to any of the cameras and see a real-time live view of your home and take the required action.
The cost of this type of protection is low so it is easy to utilise this technology to protect and secure your home while it remains unoccupied. It may not be required in a completely derelict property, but if the house is liveable and contains anything of value, its a step you should take before attempting to find effective empty property insurance.
Ask your neighbours to watch your property
Depending on where your house is located it may be a wise move to ask a trusted neighbour or friend to keep an eye on your empty home. If you buy a house in the country then you may find neighbours more approachable on this matter. Ask them to keep an eye on the house and perhaps to call in once a week, turn lights off & on, check the locks and doors, make sure nothing is out of order.
This small step can also work in your favour as it means the house is not completely unattended. With country property which is completely unoccupied but vulnerable, it may be wise to inform your local police station if you are likely to be away from home for any length of time. While the police do not offer a home security service, it may be prudent to inform them of your situation and when on their local patrol they can “keep an eye” on your house or at least be aware the property is unoccupied.
Empty Home Insurance FAQ
Can I get empty property insurance?
Yes, you can, however individual circumstances vary greatly, so discuss your situation with your home insurance company and find out their requirements. Cover may be limited, for example may UK house insurance providers are reluctant to insure property which is completely empty for longer periods of time. Don't be afraid to shop around and deal with smaller insurance companies.
How much is empty property insurance?
There is no direct answer to this question as there are so many different kinds of property. You may have an apartment in London which will only be empty for 3 months while you are away from home. On the other hand, you may own a holiday house or second home which is totally unoccupied for most of the year. The quotes you receive will vary greatly depending on your personal situation and the details of the property in question.
How do I insure my empty property?
Firstly, shop around for quotes. Don't just focus on price, look at the type of cover the insurance company is offering and any restrictions or conditions they may have. An unoccupied or empty property is much more vulnerable than an occupied house, so take as many measures as possible to protect and secure your home. Keep a journal of all the steps you have taken and keep your insurance company fully informed of any changes or alterations you make.
Keep notes and tell your home insurance provider
With all of these measures and any others you take, keep a log and explain everything to your home insurance company. It may not guarantee you cover but it will go a long way to satisfying the insurance provider that you have taken all reasonable steps to protect your property.
Since empty property insurance is such an ambiguous term with huge variations depending on personal circumstances, cover for empty houses is usually taken on a case-by-case business. Many insurance companies in the UK are reluctant to provide unoccupied house insurance for periods of more than 60-90 days, but again this will depend on your own situation.
If you keep notes and explain everything you have done to protect your house you will greatly increase your chances of acceptance.
Insuring an empty home after someone dies
If the home in question is empty because of a bereavement, adequate cover is still needed to protect the property. This means it is critical to obtaining house insurance after someone dies as the property is much more vulnerable when completely unattended. You should speak to your current provider as soon as possible after the death if the house is likely to be completely unoccupied, even if you plan to sell the property.