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UNOCCUPIED HOUSE INSURANCE FOR HOMES THAT ARE FOR SALE
When you are selling a property that you have already vacated, you must remember to protect it with unoccupied house insurance. Empty properties are susceptible to more risks than standard home insurance policies are equipped to cover, such as vandalism, squatting and arson. They are also more prone to incidents like escape of water when the property is not maintained.
KEEPING YOUR EMPTY HOUSE SAFE BEFORE VIEWINGS
Most insurers define an unoccupied house as one that is left empty for 30 days or more. So even if you are waiting for the sale of your property to close in the next few months, you need to take care that the building is properly insured.
Although the house is now empty, you should take steps to maintain a lived-in appearance. Small steps like having lights on a timer, collecting post and cutting the grass can prevent burglary and act as a deterrent to vandals. Be aware that unoccupied home insurance terms can sometimes stipulate that these sorts of activities take place to maintain the security of the property.
IS YOUR HOUSE DRESSED TO IMPRESS BUYERS?
Some estate agencies also claim that a furnished house is actually more likely to sell, as potential buyers can imagine themselves using the property based on its current layout. A clean, well decorated and lived-in home gives a much better first impression to buyers than a neglected shell.
Don’t panic if you have already moved your furniture out of the property, though. Many estate agents can provide “home staging” with rented furniture, pictures and ornaments that are designed to instill a sense of homeliness, and appeal to potential buyers.
Bear in mind that if you are selling your home over winter then you should also take care to make sure that the boiler is properly maintained. This is to avoid incidents like frozen or burst water pipes, and in many cases is a condition of vacant property insurance policies.
Once you know that your property will become empty throughout the selling process, you must tell your home insurance provider and inform them of how long the property will be empty. Since most providers will not cover an unoccupied property for more than 30 days, you may need to take out cover from a specialist insurer. In this case, we can offer you an online quote for empty house insurance, short term or long term, with our flexible cover.
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What’s covered by UNOCCUPIED HOME insurance?
Unoccupied home insurance cover varies depending on whether the property is empty on a short term of long term basis.
Short term unoccupancy
If the property is usually occupied but is left unoccupied for between 31 and 180 days, then you typically get all the cover of our standard policy terms, but with exception of certain exclusions, see what is and isn’t covered below:
Quick home emergency response times
Have a home emergency, such as electricity failure, faulty locks or vermin infestation? With the 24/7 Home Emergency cover, which we provide as standard, you can typically get an engineer at your home within four hours. And if you’re worried about an uncontrollable leak in your home, we aim to have an emergency plumber to you within two hours.
Extreme weather conditions may extend response time. Policy terms and claim limits apply.
5 star rated buildings cover
Our building insurance has been given the highest rating by independent financial research companies, Defaqto and Moneyfacts.
Any buildings work we undertake is guaranteed for 24 months following a claim and any contents repair work we undertake is guaranteed for 12 months.
New for old
Where we replace an item, we will do our best to meet the original specification on a ‘new for old’ basis. If we can’t find an exact replacement, we’ll offer you a suitable alternative, or a full cash settlement.
We provide Legal Protection cover as standard, giving you access to telephone legal advice on any personal legal issue, under the laws of the UK, any European Union country, the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Switzerland and Norway.
What isn’t included?
Escape of water incidents during the period: 1 October – 1 April (inclusive).
Theft incidents, unless all security features (e.g. locks and alarms) included in your property are maintained in good working order and in full operation.
Claims involving money and high risk items (e.g. jewellery).
Damage cause gradually, or by wear and tear, or by failure to fix a known issue.
Faulty design or poor workmanship.
Damage caused by pets.
The cost of repairing or replacing items following a mechanical or electrical fault.
Long term unoccupancy
If the property is not usually occupied, or is left unoccupied for more than 180 days, there are two levels of cover. Basic cover is available online. Extended cover is available over the phone, via referral to our underwriting team. The following table compares what sort of insured events are covered:
|Insured loss||Basic cover (available online)||Extended cover (call for quote)|
|Fire, Lightning, Earthquake, Explosion, Aircraft or other flying devices (FLEEA)||✔||✔|
|Liability to the public||✔||✔|
|Escape of Water or oil||✖||✖|
|Storm or flood||✖||✔|
|Subsidence or tree roots||✖||✔|
|Theft (including attempted theft)||✖||✔|
|Collisions with wild animals or vehicles||✖||✔|
|Aerials & falling objects||✖||✔|
|Damage by emergency services||✖||✔|
Looking for more cover? Give us a call on 0330 660 1000 to talk to our team about extended cover.
UNOCCUPIED HOME Insurance Cover Levels
The following cover levels apply for both short and long-term unoccupancy:
Covers the main structure of your home if you need to rebuild or repair it.
up to £1 million
(eligibility criteria applies)
Covering the value of all your possessions in the home, on a new for old basis.
Covers emergencies that occur in your home like uncontrollable water leaks, electricity failure, faulty locks and vermin infestation. Two levels of cover are available.
up to £500
Family legal protection
Provides a 24/7 legal advice helpline and up to £25,000 cover for claims involving contract disputes and property damage. For a claim to be successful, there must be reasonable prospects (more than a 50% chance) of winning the legal case. Two levels of cover are available.
up to £25,000
Covers rebuild or repair of your outbuildings (such as detached garages, greenhouses, sheds and summerhouses).
Liability cover involving accidental death, bodily injury or illness or property damage that you are legally liable to pay.
up to £5 million
Your Questions Answered
You will need to prove you have an ‘insurable interest’ in the property for Homeprotect to provide cover. Once confirmed, the probate home insurance policy will usually be issued in the name of the executor with any beneficiaries named as additional policyholders.
There are no regulations around how long a homeowner can leave their property unoccupied. However, when it comes to purchasing vacant property insurance with Homeprotect, your home must have been unoccupied for more than 30 days.
If you’re planning to leave your home empty for an extended period, there are a few safety and security considerations. Firstly, after 30 days unoccupied, most home insurance policies are void – so, the homeowner would need an empty home insurance policy to protect against theft or damage. Many empty home insurance policies will also expect the home to be inspected regularly, water and electricity to be switched off and more.
Additional considerations include installing a home security system and using smart devices such as leak detection technology.
If you own the freehold of your flat, you should take out buildings insurance. If you live in a leasehold flat, or are a tenant, your landlord has responsibility for sourcing buildings insurance.
Empty properties carry greater risks in terms of burglary, vandalism or even squatting, and also the amount of damage caused by unnoticed issues like burst pipes.
Homeprotect needs to know if your property is unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days or more so that they can factor these increased risks into your policy terms.
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