Are unoccupied properties covered by home insurance?

Some home insurers will not allow you to renew your insurance, or cover may be restricted to Fire, Lightning, Earthquake and Explosion only (FLEE), if your property has been unoccupied for more than one policy year and you expect it will remain unoccupied long-term.

If you are looking for more extensive level of cover you may need to seek specialist insurance but regardless, there are 7 points to remember:

  1. How long has the property been unoccupied for and for what reason?
  2. Is the property in a ‘good state of repair’?
  3. Does the property meet minimum security requirements, such as approved key-operated window locks on all accessible windows and approved door locks on all final exit doors? Security is a key factor.
  4. Are there any windows or doors bricked or boarded?  Insurers dislike the terms ‘boarding or bricked up’ as although it may seem a good idea for you to board doors or windows to protect your property, it acts as a beacon to tell passers by that the property is unoccupied, which in turn leaves your property open to theft and malicious damage risks.
  5. Have you made arrangements for the property to be inspected weekly, internally and externally and for all flyers and post to be removed? Inspections help to reduce the increased theft risk, and mean that any escape of water will be found quickly.
  6. Are the gardens maintained? Again, unmaintained gardens tell passers by that the property may not be occupied.
  7. What is the intention with the property moving forward, is it to be sold, let out?

This information will assist insurers to understand your long-term goal and help make you aware of the long-term risk of unoccupancy.  The longer a property stands unoccupied the higher the chance that it will become obvious that it is vacant and the likelihood that the state of repair will deteriorate, despite every precaution.  Following the above advice will help to conceal that the property is in fact unoccupied and help prevent against the increased unoccupied risks.

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