Home insurance and your unoccupied home

Going on an extended trip or waiting for a new tenant to move in? Don’t waste time worrying about the ins and outs of unoccupied house insurance – we’ve done the legwork for you.

Here’s how leaving your house empty could affect your home insurance policy and premiums.

Going on an extended trip or waiting for a new tenant to move in? Don’t waste time worrying about the ins and outs of unoccupied house insurance – we’ve done the legwork for you.

Here’s how leaving your house empty could affect your home insurance policy and premiums.

Helen Phipps
Insurance expert
4
minute read
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Last Updated 21 OCTOBER 2022

What is unoccupied home insurance?

Unoccupied home insurance is a specific type of policy for when you leave your home unoccupied for longer than your insurance allows (this is usually 30-60 days, but check your policy to be sure). With insurance for an unoccupied property, you can leave your home empty for longer periods, up to around 12 months.

Unoccupied property insurance is likely to be more expensive than a standard home insurance policy because insurance providers see a vacant house as a bigger risk. Not only is it more attractive to burglars, there’s also building maintenance to think about. If there’s a leak and no one’s there to fix it, for example, the damage could be far worse than it needs to be.

What does unoccupied house insurance cover?

Empty property insurance can cover:

  • Fire 
  • Flood 
  • Storms 
  • Theft or attempted theft 
  • Vandalism 
  • Damage caused by water or oil
  • Damage from impact.

Cover can vary among providers, so check your policy to see what’s included and if there are any exclusions.

What doesn’t unoccupied home insurance cover?

Some common exclusions with unoccupied property insurance include:

  • Burglary through unforced entry – if you leave a door or window unlocked and your home is burgled, your insurance provider won’t accept your claim
  • Renovations or building works – if you’re doing structural work on the property, damage isn’t normally covered
  • Builders and contractors – if you hire a contractor, they should have their own insurance in place.

How much is unoccupied home insurance?

It’s hard to say how much your empty house insurance will cost as your quote will be tailored to you. But insuring an unoccupied house usually costs more than regular home insurance, because there’s an increased risk associated with nobody being at the property.

Here are some factors that will affect the cost of your unoccupied home insurance:

  • The property’s value – the more expensive the property, the more it will cost to repair or rebuild
  • Your cover level – the more protection you have, the higher your premium
  • The location – if your property is in a high-crime area or one prone to flooding, it’s more likely you’ll have to claim
  • Your security – adding extra security features to an unoccupied property will help deter burglars, making you less of a risk to insurance providers and your insurance potentially cheaper.

When do I need unoccupied house insurance?

There’s a few situations when you might need empty property insurance. These include:

  • You’re doing renovations or building work that involve moving out
  • Waiting for a property sale to complete
  • Going on holiday or travelling for an extended period
  • It’s a second property or holiday home you don’t normally live in
  • You’re a landlord and your property is between tenants.

Why do I need to tell my insurance provider if my home is unoccupied?

If you don’t let your insurance provider know that your home is empty for a longer period than is set out in your policy, you could invalidate your home insurance. This means that if you need to make a claim, your insurance provider may refuse to pay it.

Comparing unoccupied home insurance

If you already have a home insurance policy in place, it’s worth calling your insurance provider to see how much extra you’ll need to pay while your home is unoccupied. You can then make sure the quote is competitive by comparing quotes from other insurance providers. But please note, at Comparethemarket we can only help you insure your home if it’s unoccupied for a short period and you usually live there.

Frequently asked questions

How long can a house be unoccupied for?

Your standard home insurance will usually allow for a property to be unoccupied for 30 days. But all policies are different, with some offering cover for up to 60 days, so you’ll need to read yours to be sure. Unoccupied home insurance policies are more flexible, so you can arrange cover for three months, six months or a year, depending on how long you plan to be away.

I’m a landlord and my property is unoccupied between occupants. Do I need unoccupied home insurance?

You may be better off with landlord insurance, which is designed to cover rental properties.

Landlord insurance is much more flexible about how long a property can be empty for and can be helpful if you’re between tenants or want to carry out renovations.

What if my second home is unoccupied for more than 30 days?

If you have a second home that’s unoccupied for long periods, you’ll need to take out an unoccupied home insurance policy. But if your second home is unoccupied for less than 30 days at a time, most standard home insurance policies allow for this. Some policies even cover an unoccupied home for up to 60 days.

Can I insure an empty property if it’s for sale?

Yes, if your property is up for sale and you won’t be living there for a longer period than your home insurance allows, an unoccupied home policy is right for you. You should be able to add unoccupied home insurance to your existing policy, so check with your insurance provider.

How can I get a lower premium on my unoccupied property?

There’s a few steps you can take to lower your insurance premium. You could:

  • Install extra security
    Locks, CCTV and a burglar alarm will help give you – and your insurance provider – peace of mind when it comes to preventing break-ins.
  • Keep your property well maintained
    Making sure the roof and guttering are looked after will mean you’re less likely to claim and lose your no-claims bonus.
  • Get a house sitter
    Having friends and family to stay may mean the property is classed as occupied. But check with your insurance provider, as you may need to declare occupants who aren’t permanent residents.
  • Pay annually
    Paying for your premium upfront, rather than in monthly instalments, will typically mean you avoid interest payments. 

How do I claim on my unoccupied home insurance?

Each insurance provider has its own way of handling claims. You’ll normally need to call a number, which you should find on your policy documents. You should do this as soon as you can. If there’s been a crime, your insurance provider will want you to get a crime number from the police.

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