What is unoccupied home insurance?
Unoccupied home insurance covers a property that is left empty for longer than a regular home insurance policy will allow. If your property is going to be left vacant for an extended period (perhaps from as little as 30 days) then you’ll need to take out specialist cover.
Do I need unoccupied property insurance?
Your rental property may go through periods of being vacant, for example when you’re in between tenants, or taking the opportunity to redecorate or carry out maintenance. While your property is empty, it’s more at risk of being damaged or broken into, because there’s no one around to deter potential burglars or spot problems, such as leaks. It’s vital to have the right insurance in place to make sure you’re covered.
Landlord insurance will cover unoccupied properties for longer than standard home insurance. But if your property is going to be unoccupied for a very long period, you may need specialist unoccupied property insurance.
When do landlords need unoccupied property insurance?
It’s a good idea to have unoccupied property insurance if the rental property you own is going to be empty for 30 days or more. For example, if:
- Your tenants have moved out and you haven’t found anyone to replace them yet
- You’re a new landlord or it’s a new property and you haven’t found tenants yet
- It’s a student rental, so it’s empty over the summer
- You’re redecorating or doing maintenance work
What does unoccupied home insurance cover?
Landlord insurance often offers a longer period of cover for unoccupied properties than regular home insurance – around 60 days and up to 120 days if it’s a student property. You may also be able to tailor your cover if you don’t want full cover when the property is empty.
Specialist unoccupied property insurance is also available, which you can usually get for periods of three, six, nine or 12 months.
While your property is empty, your insurance should cover:
- Storm damage
- Burst pipes
To make sure you’ll be able to make a successful claim if you need to, you’ll need to meet the conditions set out in the policy. This may include having certain types of security in place and regular property inspections. With any policy, be sure to check the terms and conditions carefully.
What isn’t covered by unoccupied home insurance?
Policy exclusions can vary between insurance providers, as well as their different levels of cover. Here are some exclusions to look out for:
- Unforced entry - theft or damage suffered when there are no signs of a forced entry (e.g. you leave a door or window unlocked)
- Tradespeople - however, damages caused by these should fall under their own insurance
- Builders – if you’re having major renovations or an extension built, you might not be covered for any damage or additional repairs that are required as a result.
How much does unoccupied home insurance cost?
Usually, unoccupied property insurance is more expensive because there’s a greater chance of something going wrong if a property is empty.
However, costs vary depending on how long the property will be empty, how secure it is, where it is and the type of building it is (a second-floor flat or detached house, for example).
How can I keep my unoccupied property safe?
There are a few things you can do to protect your rental property while it’s empty:
- Turn off the gas, water and electricity in warmer months to minimise the risk of a leak or fire.
- During winter, keep the heating on low to prevent frozen pipes.
- Make sure all the doors and windows have secure locks.
- Set up a smart security system, so you’ll be notified of anything untoward.
- Visit the property regularly to make checks
- Make the property look lived in – don’t let the post pile up, mow the lawn and keep curtains open.
How long is the property going to be unoccupied?
A standard home insurance policy will usually be for a year-long term. Within this year, you’ll be allowed periods of unoccupancy, but these are normally limited to 30 days. If your home is going to be unoccupied longer than this, you’ll need to consider a specialist policy, because your existing cover will probably be void. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to check your policy wording, as different insurance providers offer different levels of cover.
Unoccupied home insurance policies aren’t normally fixed to a year-long agreement, because it’s unlikely that the property will be vacant for that long. This means you can tailor your policy to suit your needs, extending the term if necessary.
Frequently asked questions
Will regular insurance cover my unoccupied rental property?
Standard landlord insurance may cover short periods of unoccupancy – this is one of the ways it differs to normal home insurance. But you’ll need specialist unoccupied property insurance if your rental property will be empty for very long periods.
Do I need to visit my unoccupied property regularly?
The conditions of your landlord unoccupied property insurance may state that you need to make regular visits, and how often. Usually, it’s best if you keep an eye on your empty property by visiting weekly, because this will help you spot any maintenance that needs doing, or signs of a break in.
What else does landlord insurance cover?
As well as the typical home insurance protections against fire, flood and theft, landlord insurance can include:
Rent guarantee cover. This can protect you if your tenants are unable to pay their rent.
Property owners’ liability. Also known as public liability insurance, this can provide cover for legal costs and damages if one of your tenants has an accident at your property.
Employers’ liability insurance. This is a legal requirement if you have any employees who aren’t immediate family members. You’d need it for someone who is employed by you to do admin in your office, for example.
Rental income protection. This can cover you for the rent that you’d otherwise have been entitled to, if you can’t rent your property out because of fire or flood damage, for example.
What is a void period?
A void period is a time when there is nobody living in the property and staying overnight.
This is a concern for insurers, because an empty property is at greater risk of theft or damage, and therefore a claim. What qualifies as a void period may vary between insurance providers, so it’s important you read policy wording carefully. If you’re concerned your property may be unoccupied for a longer period, you may want to consider a specialist insurance policy.
What is property owners’ liability cover?
Property owners’ liability cover is a type of public liability insurance. It’s there to protect you against legal costs, if you’re liable for any damage or injury compensation, after an incident at your property.
What do I need to get a quote?
It’s easy to get a quote. Just answer some questions about the property and your tenants, then we’ll search the top insurance providers to help find the right deals for you.
Business insurance expert
“Having an empty rental property is an obvious worry for landlords, but the right insurance can give you a bit more peace of mind.
“Knowing you’ll be covered for repairs or replacements if anything should happen to your property means you can focus on redecorating or finding the right tenants.”
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