Home insurance and your unoccupied home
Going on an extended business trip or waiting for a new tenant to move in? Don’t waste time worrying about the ins and outs of unoccupied home insurance – we’ve done the leg-work for you.
This is everything you need to know about how an unoccupied house could affect your home insurance policy and premiums.
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Frequently asked questions
Why might a property be unoccupied?
- You’ve inherited the property
- You own it as a holiday home
- The property is on the market but left up for sale after you’ve moved out and into your new place
- You’re having it renovated and have moved out while the builders or decorators get the job done
- You’re going to be away on business, or on an extended holiday (find out how to protect your home while you're away here).
According to Government statistics, there are 205,293 empty homes in England. In Scotland, 37,000 homes have been left vacant for a minimum of six months and in Wales, the figure stands at 2,500 just in Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea and Carmarthenshire alone.
Will my home insurance still provide me with reliable cover if my home is left unoccupied for a time?
Your home insurance policy will probably state that you need to inform your insurance provider if your home is going to be unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days.
When notifying your insurance provider, you’ll need to explain why your home is going to be unoccupied and for how long. When it comes to holidays, unless they’re over 30 days you generally won’t need to tell your provider. If you’re in any doubt, you can find out more here.
Why do I need to tell my insurance provider that my home will be unoccupied?
Insurance providers tend to consider an unoccupied home riskier than a home with people living in it. The chances of water damage, vandalism or break-ins are likely to be higher when there’s no one at home to spot issues quickly or prevent them.
Every insurance provider will have a different view on unoccupied properties, so you’ll need to speak to yours directly to find out what level of cover they’ll offer.
What if I fail to tell my insurance provider?
You’ll run the risk of invalidating your home insurance policy if you fail to tell your insurance provider that your home is going to be unoccupied for a longer period of time than is set out in your policy. If you need to make a claim, your insurance provider may refuse to pay it.
What does empty house insurance cover?
- Theft or attempted theft
- Damage caused by water or oil
- Damage from impact
Insurance policies are not all the same. It’s important to ask your insurance provider directly to find out exactly what you’re covered for – as well as the things you’re not. You might find there are certain restrictions placed on your insurance policy only while it’s unoccupied but the rest of the time, normal service remains.
What does the cover cost?
As with all insurance, it’s impossible to give a specific figure as your insurance will be personalised to you. Every property and every insurance provider is different. The amount that you’ll pay will depend on the area in which the property is located and the circumstances surrounding the reasons why the property will be left empty.
You may be able to get a better idea of the cost for cover by comparing policies and prices – but more on that later.
Is there anything I can do to get a lower premium?
Yes, there are things you can do.
Installing extra security in the form of locks on the your doors and a burglar alarm could help to lower your premium. It will also help if you keep your property well maintained and if you ask family members to stay there from time to time, as this may mean it’s not classed as unoccupied.
It's also worth comparing insurance providers to see if you can get a better deal. A total of 34.04% of customers achieved an average saving of £137.76** using Compare the Market.
**On average 34.04% of new buildings and contents insurance customers achieved this saving with Compare the Market according to independent research carried out by Consumer Intelligence during November 2018.
Does getting specific landlord insurance help for rented properties?
Yes, definitely. Landlord insurance is a bit like home insurance, but it’s specifically designed to cover rental properties and make life easier for landlords who will be missing out on rent for a few weeks or months.
Landlord insurance will usually allow a home to remain empty for up to three months. This can be very helpful as it can often take more than a month for a new tenant to move in, or you may want to carry out renovations between tenants.
Comparing unoccupied home insurance
If you already have a policy, you could phone your existing home insurance provider to get a quote for how much extra you’ll need to pay if and when your home is unoccupied. Then make sure that the quote provided is competitive by comparing quotes from a number of other insurance providers. This will help ensure that you’re able to get a great price and the right amount of cover that you need.
What else should I consider?
Terms and conditions
Be sure to check the wording on your policy carefully, and make sure that you understand any requirements or exclusions stated by your insurance provider.
Keep your heating on low
Avoid frozen and burst pipes by keeping your heating and hot water on a low setting. This will also ensure your boiler keeps ticking over rather than lying dormant before firing it up again.
Keep criminals at bay by making sure that your home doesn’t look unoccupied. Ask someone to collect your post regularly to avoid an overflowing mailbox, or ask Royal Mail to keep it safe for you while you’re away. Ask family to open and close the curtains or consider installing security measures, such as a burglar alarm or smart home security technology devices, that can turn lights on and off remotely from your phone, suggesting someone is at home.