What does unoccupied property insurance cover?
Your home insurance, whether owner-occupier or landlord, will typically specify a maximum number of consecutive days your property can remain unoccupied before your insurance is at risk.
That period might vary but it’s typically in the range of 30-45 consecutive days.
Once that passes, if you wish your cover to continue without issue, you’ll typically need unoccupied property insurance.
Properties are typically at a higher risk of certain types of problem, once they’re unoccupied. That might include risks such as:
- water damage by cumulative leaks (e.g. a dripping pipe going unnoticed);
- electrical fires; etc.
Typically, your property cover will make an allowance for absences due to things such as holidays, business trips and weekends away etc. It’s only when you pass the specified number of consecutive days that your cover will be at risk.
Unoccupied property cover
In terms of what unoccupied property insurance covers, it’s worth noting that just like any insurance policy, its provisions may vary. To be sure just what cover you’re getting and what conditions come with it, it’ll be necessary to read the policy carefully.
Typically, cover levels will range from “basic” to pretty comprehensive but these are not universally defined. So, you must take the time to think about what a policy is providing and whether or not it’s acceptable to you.
To give an example, some basic policies might restrict their unoccupied property insurance cover to what’s called “FLEA” for Fire, Lightning, Explosions and Aircraft.
It may be that your property is located in a spot globally famous for its lightning strike frequencies or perhaps it’s directly adjacent to an airport runway or an artillery range. If none of those are the case, you might wish to question whether FLEA cover alone is sufficient!
An experienced provider of unoccupied property insurance cover will be able to advise on policies that provide a broader base of protection to include things such as flooding or burglaries etc. This additional cover will typically attract a cost, naturally.
It’s worth keeping in mind that like all insurance, unoccupied property cover will bring with it some conditions that you’ll need to comply with for your cover to remain in place.
Again, generalisation is difficult because these will vary too but they might include:
- the need to periodically inspect the property while it’s unoccupied and keep a log of visits/work done (you can delegate this if you’re away);
- a requirement to keep external areas of the property in good order with grass cut and refuse disposed of – to help hide the fact that the property is unoccupied;
- lights might need to be left on a timer;
- varying requirements for the main utilities to be left on or off at the mains;
- the necessity of arranging for a postal re-direct (or daily collection) to avoid build-ups of mail being visible in letterboxes etc.
These conditions are rarely onerous or even terribly demanding but they do need to be taken seriously.
In some cases, if your property is going to stand unoccupied for an extended period of time during major rebuilding works, a specific form of cover might be required. This is sometimes called “renovation insurance” or similar.