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Unoccupied house insurance FAQs

3 min read

When your house is unoccupied, a special form of insurance is required to preserve the safeguards which normally protect it.

Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject,

Why is special insurance necessary?

The building and contents insurance on your property protects the structure and fabric of the building itself and its contents against a wide range of risks, including flooding, storm damage, fire, impacts (from vehicles and falling objects), vandalism and theft.

When your house is unoccupied, however, the cover afforded by that insurance policy typically becomes more restricted – and may even lapse altogether.

Special unoccupied house insurance is necessary to maintain the protection you require.

Why is the usual home insurance so restricted?

When your home is unoccupied, it is exposed to greater than usual risks and perils:

  • when the place is empty, a normally routine maintenance problem might develop into a full-scale emergency – and untold damage – if there is no one there to spot it.

Given these heightened risks, insurers typically restrict the scope and level of cover offered by any standard home insurance policy – so that you need unoccupied house insurance to maintain the necessary safeguards.

When does my home become unoccupied?

Insurers may have slightly different definitions that determine when your home is unoccupied. It may be temporarily empty, for example, if:

You are taking an extended holiday abroad – to visit friends and relatives overseas perhaps;

  • your job takes you to a different part of the country for several months at a time;
  • if you are a landlord, there may be a longer than usual void between the last tenants moving out and new ones moving in; or
  • the property might be subject to probate and remains empty pending a decision on its future ownership.

In cases such as this, your insurer is likely to consider the house to have become unoccupied once no one has been living there typically for between 30 and 45 consecutive days.

What if I’m having building work done?

If you are having an extension or loft conversion done – or any refurbishment requiring building works – the builders are likely to be there almost every day and you may even be supervising some of the project yourself.

If you have moved out while the work is underway, however, your insurer is still likely to consider your house to be unoccupied – and even in these circumstances, therefore, you are likely to require specialist unoccupied house insurance.

How long does the specialist cover remain in place?

Unoccupied house insurance may be arranged for as long as you need it.

Unlike most other types of general insurance, it may be arranged for less than the normal 12 months – so if your house is going to be empty for just six months, say, some insurers may allow you to arrange unoccupied house insurance for that period only.

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