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Unoccupied property and empty building insurance

Unoccupied property and empty building insurance

What is unoccupied property insurance? Learn more about how your home insurance policy can be affected if you are not always at home and why you need unoccupied home insurance.

Homeowners may have a variety of reasons for not always being at home or living in their property, but an unoccupied property can impact the type of cover you receive.

Read our guide to learn more about unoccupied property insurance and the general features of non-standard home insurance, or get a quote using the link below.

What property is unoccupied house insurance for?

Officially your home should not go unoccupied for longer than 30 days. After 30 days, your home will be an "unoccupied property", which, should you need to make a claim, could void your policy, unless it covered this eventuality.

However, most standard home insurance policies will state that your property should not be empty for longer than at least 30 days.

Whether you use your property as a holiday home or it's awaiting sale, or for any other reason that could leave it unoccupied for longer than 30 days, you may wish to consider taking out a non-standard home insurance policy, which can cover your unoccupied property.

What is unoccupied home insurance?

Officially your home shouldn't go unoccupied for longer than 30 days. Some insurance policies may give you a longer period – for example 40 or 60 days. After 30 days, your home will be an "unoccupied property", which, should you need to make a claim, could void your policy, unless it covered this eventuality.

However, most standard home insurance policies will state that your property shouldn't be empty for longer than at least 30 days.

Whether you use your property as a holiday home, it's awaiting sale, or for any other reason that could leave it unoccupied for longer than 30 days, you may wish to consider taking out a non-standard home insurance policy. This can then cover your unoccupied property.

unoccupied home

Why does being unoccupied affect my home insurance?

When your house or flat is empty for a long period of time, there's the risk that you're more likely to make a claim.

For example, a house that's not being lived in may become a target for burglars. If there's any damage due to a water leak or fire, it may not be discovered immediately, leading to greater damage and a higher claim. If the house is locked up there may be a greater chance of mould or dampness, especially if it's in the winter and it's unheated.

Unoccupied property and the effects of COVID-19

It may be that you're unable to visit or stay in your property because of COVID-19 restrictions. Or you may have a holiday let that you have decided not to rent out this year, because of the complications involved. Either way, it may be that your property will be unoccupied for longer than normal.

Your house or flat might be unoccupied if you've had tenants in and the property is now empty because of COVID-19. Or it may be that they are unable to return to the premises because of local or overseas restrictions.

Some areas in the UK are still under local restrictions, which means that people may not be able to return to their home. Or they may be staying or shielding with other family members, and not living in their usual property. Whether you have an empty property in the UK because of the coronavirus, or because of other reasons, you need to check whether you're covered on your property insurance.

Will my insurer take into account the COVID-19 restrictions?

Generally speaking, insurers have made a decision to relax the strict rules on the 30-day rule, because they're aware of the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Some are allowing indefinite periods while others have extended the limit for your home being unoccupied for up to 60 days. However, it does vary from one insurer to another and so you should check your policy wording and contact your insurer to find out if you're still covered.

You may need to consider whether your property insurance needs to be switched from occupied to unoccupied home insurance in the UK. Your ability to make a claim may be affected if you're not living or using the property and it's damaged or broken into. That's why having empty house insurance may be the option you need at the moment.

Do I need empty home insurance?

Your insurer will be able to tell you whether you're still covered for home insurance if your house or flat is unoccupied.

It may be that you're covered, but you need to take extra precautions to keep your home safe in the event of it being empty for a long time. This might include safety measures such as, turning off water and electricity, making regular checks, and installing a fire or burglar alarm.

What is unoccupied home insurance?

Unoccupied home insurance is a term used to identify one of the many features of non-standard home insurance.

Generally, standard insurance policies don't cover you against some circumstances, as this has the potential to increase their risk. A specific policy, which includes unoccupied property insurance with a non-standard home insurance policy, will factor this in. An unoccupied home by nature is a non-standard risk, as generally homes are usually occupied.

The extra risk of insuring an unoccupied property is that it may be more vulnerable to burglary. But there are also other possible elements of danger that may not otherwise be as prominent if someone was home and looking after the home.

Non-standard home insurance

The knowledge and experience of a non-standard home insurance provider, should help them understand your specific home insurance requirements, better than a regular insurance provider.

As a result, in theory, you should get a cheaper home insurance quote than if you took out a standard policy.

Non-standard home insurance risks include anything that you may not consider to be common with a home.

This includes a range of factors such as, a home being unoccupied for longer than 30 days or if a large proportion of the property was built with non-standard materials such as wood, glass or metal.

Read our full guide to non-standard home insurance to learn more, or use the link below to start comparing quotes.

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