A simples guide

Unoccupied Home Insurance

There are lots of reasons you might own a home that’s unoccupied, you might:

- Have inherited it
- Own it as a holiday home
- Left it up for sale because you’ve already moved away
- Be having it done up so builders and decorators are in
- You’re going to be away for more than a couple of months on business, or for pleasure

But did you know that if your home is unoccupied for more than 30 days you need to inform your insurer and let them know why it is unoccupied and for how long it will be unoccupied for? 

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Wouldn’t normal household insurance cover me?

It may do but it’s best to speak with your insurer if you are leaving your home empty for 30 days or more. Insurance companies consider unoccupied homes riskier than a home with people living it, which makes sense, really. Water damage, vandalism and glass breakage are just a few of the potential risks involved.

unoccupied house

Do I have to have a yearly policy?

Every insurer will have a different view on unoccupied properties so you will need to speak to your insurer to find out about what level of cover they will offer.

What does empty house insurance cover?

It can cover you for:

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

But, all insurance policies are different, so there might be other things that are covered and there may be things on this list which some insurers won’t include, such as damage from water or the theft of any contents you have left at the property.

How many empty homes are there in the UK?

According to Government statistics, there are 610,123 empty homes in England, with just over a third of them being vacant for more than six months. In Scotland there are 31,884 with the majority being empty for more than six months and in Wales 23,171 properties were empty for more than six months.

Many of these properties are empty because they are awaiting probate, are for sale, or their owners are away for a long period. Some of them though are empty because the owners haven’t got the money to pay for repairs to make them habitable and enable them to rent them out or sell them at a reasonable price. In places like London, high-end properties are being bought by wealthy owners who then leave them empty because they don’t want to live in them, or rent them out.

unoccupied house

What does cover cost?

It’s impossible to give a figure because every property is different and it depends as well on the area it’s in and how long it has been empty. But you can easily search and compare with us to see what rates are available and what might be suitable for your situation.

Is there anything I can do to get a lower premium?

Your insurer will ask you if you have locks on the windows and doors and if there is a burglar alarm and this may help to reduce your premium. They’ll also expect that your property is in a good state of repair.  

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What should I do to protect my empty home?

It’s important that you check the requirements and exclusions stated by your insurer to make sure that you’re covered. Some of the things you could consider are:

- Make sure the gas and electricity are off, and that the eater is turned off and the water system drained to avoid frozen pipes.

- Ask someone to collect mail and junk mail so that the letter box doesn’t get clogged up, as thieves often look out for just this sort of clue that the house is empty.

- Net curtains could help to prevent burglars too so people can’t see into the house from the street.

If you live close by and you don’t want to turn off your utilities, then you can perhaps set the heating on to the lowest temperature when its frosty to prevent burst pipes and fit a timer in the house which turns lights on and off at certain times.

If you need help with insuring your unoccupied property, visit our home insurance pages for more information where you will also be able to search and compare best rates.