Unoccupied buildings insurance provides cover in many situations that can arise when your home is empty for more than 30 days, including fire damage and legal expenses such as a breach of contract for the sale of your home, or the cost of pursuing nuisance and trespass claims for the property.
A typical insurance policy does not necessarily provide adequate cover for vacant homes and some insurers may refuse to cover a property left unoccupied for 30 consecutive days or more. So, if you’re leaving your property unoccupied for a lengthy period, it’s important to source appropriate insurance.
This may be a requirement from your mortgage provider or your may be looking for cover because unoccupied properties can be more susceptible to fire and other hazards - find out more about why an empty home is riskier.
The price of cover is determined by a range of factors, such as the rebuild cost of the property, its location, security and, of course, the reason it's empty.
Insuring an unoccupied property with HomeProtect can also cover renovations for as long as you need, or can protect a vacant house during probate. We can insure the building and any contents, and will also protect against common claims such as malicious damage, vandalism or fire.
Properties can be unoccupied for a number of reasons. If it’s your main home, you might be away for an extended period for work or on holiday. A home may also be left empty if an elderly owner has moved into care or during probate. Properties are also often unoccupied if extensive building work is being carried out.
Many unoccupied properties are second homes, which have either been bought as rental properties or inherited. Buy-to-let properties may be empty because of ‘voids’ between tenants, or while undergoing renovation, and holiday homes may be vacant out of season. Inherited properties are frequently left empty while the new owner or owners decides what to do with them, particularly as this type of home may need renovation before it is suitable for rental.
Most insurance providers consider a property to be unoccupied if it’s empty for more than 30 consecutive days. It’s important that you notify your provider if this is going to be the case. After 30 days, different insurers change their cover levels at different cut off points and for different situations: for example, if the property being insured is your main residence, HomeProtect, requires you to arrange for weekly inspection visits to be carried out. Sometimes this is referred to as the 30 day rule by insurers.
Empty properties carry greater risks in terms of burglary, vandalism or even squatting, and also the amount of damage caused by unnoticed issues like bust pipes. It’s easy to imagine how carpets and skirting boards could be ruined by water escaping over several days in an empty house, whereas in an occupied property it would be spotted much more quickly.
Your insurance provider needs to know that your property is unoccupied for 30 consecutive days or more so that they can factor these increased risks into your policy terms.
Many of the factors that affect insurance premiums for empty properties are the same as those for occupied homes, such as location and rebuild value. The cost of insurance may be higher for a particular property when it is empty than when it is unoccupied because of higher security risks, or it may be similar but with limitations on what is covered; for example, buildings cover may be limited to fire, lightening, explosion, earthquake and aircraft collision, but not include storm, flood or subsidence.