When a house is vacated, it can be for one of the following reasons:
- The property is undergoing refurbishment or renovation.
- The property is up for sale or is awaiting the arrival of new tenants
- The current occupier is absent due to being in a hospital, taken into long-term care, is currently travelling or is at a residence in a second home.
- The property is awaiting probate, usually during the awaiting of decisions on asset division following the death of the owner.
Properties can also be vacated while they are being brought up to scratch, and safe to inhabit again – including repairing properties that have sustained damage as a result of subsidence.
Do I need insurance while no-one is living there?
While properties remain unoccupied, they are at risk of thieves and squatters, who could cause further damage to the property, in many cases decreasing not only the appeal but also the value of the property.
Many insurers may invalidate policies if the property is unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days, any claims made after this time may not pay out due to the increase in risk caused by vacating the property.
In this case, unoccupied home insurance can help to cover damage caused by the elements, flood and fire damage and damage from third parties (including vandalism) while you are not there. Unoccupied home insurance can be handy to have in order to lower the costs involved with owning an unoccupied property.
Policies can last from anything from 30-45 days in the short-term, to anything up to twelve months for longer policies. It’s worth asking your insurer about your options should you need long-term cover, either as a result of refurbishment works or during periods between rentals if you use the property as a holiday home.
Isn’t that just the same as my current home insurance?
Not so, unoccupied home insurance has a few differences between it and a regular home insurance policy, mostly because of the risk factor involved at times when the property is vacant.
Insurers will want to know the following details about your property:
- How much is the property worth?
- What condition is the property currently in?
- Is there any security in place on the property?
These factors can affect the price you pay for a policy, particularly if the property is dilapidated and needs structural repairs to make the property safe.
Unoccupied properties are at a greater risk of damage from vandals if they’re not already damaged beyond repair. Those in a poor state of repair will likely need critical repairs carried out on them, and as such, may also be at risk from damage from negligent workmen, so always be sure that whoever you hire to do the job is reliable and trustworthy.
I can’t be there all the time! How can I protect the house?
Fear not, there are a number of things you can do to lessen the risk of damage to your property while you are not there:
- Invest in some security – this can consist of a stronger set of locks, both on doors and windows in order to lessen the likelihood of a break-in while you’re not present.
- Consider installing some sort of burglar alarm system or CCTV system in order to help deter intruders (and maybe bring down the cost of your unoccupied home insurance policy).
- In times of cold weather, make use of a time-controlled heating system in order to stop the water pipes from freezing up during chilly times, lessening the chance of a costly rupture.
- With today’s technology, there are now a number of companies which allow you to control your heating using a tap of your smartphone, so it can be worth looking into one of these for keeping the house’s temperature, reducing the risk of damp while the house is vacant.
- Strike up a good rapport with your neighbours – if you get on well with your neighbours, they are more likely to help keep an eye on your property while you’re not there. Whether it’s to draw the curtains of a night-time or alert you to any untoward activity around your property, it can pay to be a good friend in order to ensure your property’s safety.
Insurers will not normally pay out on an unoccupied home insurance claim if there is evidence of unforced entry into the property, so it can be worth investing in some good locks to help save on your policy.
Whether you’ve been forced to vacate your property for reasons beyond your control or choose to leave the property vacated as a result of renting it out, make sure you have at least some level of cover as this can help save on costly repairs.