Emma Myrie

Written by

Emma Myrie

Insurance Underwriting Expert

Libby Goodsearles

Reviewed by

Libby Goodsearles

Head of Marketing

Less than 1 minute

Updated: 7 Feb 2024

Let’s define unoccupied: as far as the insurance industry is concerned, an empty property is one that is uninhabited for more than 30 days. This is often referred to as the 30 day rule by insurers, or even the 30/60/90 day rule because some providers – unlike Homeprotect – won’t cover a property at all if it’s vacant for more than 60 or 90 days.

Whether a vacant house is furnished isn’t important – which is why empty homes are often referred to as unoccupied properties by insurance providers.


Why empty house insurance is important | Unoccupied main residence

Untenanted properties | Probate and inherited homes | Flexible insurance for an empty property

Why it’s important to have empty house insurance

Perhaps the simplest reason for insuring an unoccupied home is because your mortgage company requires you to have buildings cover in place as a condition of the loan. This obviously applies to holiday homessecond homes, and buy-to-let property, as well as your main residence if you’ve moved out during renovations or you have to be away with work for an extended period.

But if you own your empty property outright – perhaps because you’ve inherited it, or because you’ve already paid it off and are now planning a long holiday during your retirement – you’ll want the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re protected if the worst happens whilst you’re away.

When it comes to insuring an unoccupied property, it’s worth remembering that even buildings-only insurance for an empty house covers you for more than just damage caused by fire, lightening or smoke; Homeprotect policies also include protection against legal liability, for example, if a tile comes off your roof and damages your neighbour’s conservatory.

Empty home insurance for your main residence

As insurance companies consider a property to be unoccupied if it’s empty for more than 30 days, the level of cover included in empty property insurance usually changes at this cut-off point, with further changes the longer a home is left vacant.

With Homeprotect empty property insurance for your main home, for instance, if your property is unoccupied for more than 30 days in a row between 1 October and 1 April, you’ll need to turn off the water or keep the heating on continuously for your usual cover levels to remain in place.  This is to reduce the risk of damage caused by water escaping from frozen pipes bursting.

It’s also always a good idea to arrange for someone to maintain your garden and hedges so that the property looks lived in as this will help it avoid unwanted attention from burglars.

Empty property insurance for untenanted properties

Landlords understandably dread void between tenants, but they’re also a fact of life if you have a buy-to-let property. And sometimes you may actually choose to leave your property tenantless for a period, perhaps so that you can decorate it or carry out a more substantial renovation which will allow you to charge higher rents in future or just simply attract tenants more easily. This might include putting in a new kitchen or bathroom, or even build an extension which includes an extra bedroom.

If your property is vacant, it’s important that you tell your insurance provider this to avoid unpleasant surprises in the event you need to make a claim. In the case of Homeprotect policies, we need to know if this type if property is untenanted for more than 30 days. As we specialise in renovation cover as well as landlord insurance, it’s likely that you’ll only need to adjust your existing Homeprotect policy in either of these situations, but the important thing is that you keep us up to date with what’s going on.

Insurance for an empty property that’s in probate or inherited

If you’ve inherited an empty property or you’re the executor for someone‘s will that is going through probate, it’s important that you insure the unoccupied property until such time as it is sold or rented out.

Unused properties which have belonged to an elderly person have often not been maintained, so you may need to fit better window or door locks in order to get competitively-priced empty house insurance, or even to get cover at all. This will reduce the risk of squatters gaining access to the property, which almost always causes the property owner a lot of work as well as worry.

Tip: Although boarding up windows may seem more secure than leaving dilapidated window frames without locks – and is cheaper than upgrading old windows – this advertises the fact that the property is unoccupied to squatters and vandals who might set fire to it.

Flexible insurance for empty properties

Many of the reasons why a home is empty are temporary – while you’ve moved out during renovations, while a let property is tenantless, or when an elderly relative has moved into a care home, as well as many other situations. When everything returns to normal and your empty house is reoccupied, just let us know that too.

There are generally some changes in premiums payable and the levels of cover provided as your circumstances vary, but it’s worth remembering that we cover a wide variety of situations including many that mainstream insurers refuse to handle.

And don’t forget that Homeprotect policies run for a full year, whereas with some insurers who offer short-term unoccupied home insurance, you would need to keep renewing if your property remains vacant longer than you’d expected.

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:

What’s included?

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.

Repair guarantee

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.

Legal advice

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.

Lost items.

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 lossBasic 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
Accidental damage
Storm or flood
Subsidence or tree roots
Theft (including attempted theft)
Malicious damage
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:

unoccupied covers levels with homeprotect

Buildings Cover

Covers the main structure of your home, including attached garages and conservatories, if you need to rebuild or repair it following an insured loss. Also covers permanent outdoor structures such as driveways, patios and boundary walls. *More cover available if you need it.

from £25,000

Covering the value of the possessions you could take with you when moving home, such as furniture, clothing, valuables, appliances, fittings, entertainment equipment, gadgets and bikes, following an insured loss. Cover provided on a new for old basis.

up to £500

Covers sudden, unexpected emergencies, such as uncontrollable water leaks, that require immediate corrective action to prevent or limit damage to your home, or make your home secure. Two levels of cover are available, for different types of insured loss.

up to £5 million

Covers damages and claimants’ costs and expenses for your legal liability in the event of accidental death, injury or illness to a third party, or damage to property belonging to a third party.

from £20,000

Covers rebuild or repair of your outbuildings (e.g. detached garages, greenhouses, sheds and summerhouses) that are within the boundary or a communal area you’re legally responsible for, if you need to rebuild or repair them following an insured loss.

up to £25,000

Covers legal costs following an insured loss. There must be reasonable prospects of winning and the incident must have occurred during the policy term. Two levels of cover are available, for different types of insured loss.

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.

Yes, Homeprotect is pleased to offer unoccupied home insurance policies for long periods. If your holiday home will be left vacant during the off-season or between guests for more than 30 days, we can still offer cover. Please read more about our unoccupied home insurance to understand what restrictions apply. 

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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