What is Unoccupied Property Insurance?
At Higos, we understand that one of the biggest challenges for building owners is protecting their properties when they become unoccupied. After all, an unoccupied building can become much more susceptible to theft, structural damage, or flooding from a burst pipe, all of which could have devastating consequences. However, there is an answer. A specialist unoccupied property insurance policy will protect your home or building while it remains empty.
What Is Unoccupied Property Insurance?
Unoccupied property insurance, also known as vacant property insurance or empty property insurance, is a type of insurance coverage designed to protect buildings and homes that are vacant or unoccupied for extended periods of time. This type of insurance provides cover for risks and liabilities that are unique to properties that are not actively lived in or used by their owners or tenants.
What Does Unoccupied Property Insurance Cover?
Unoccupied building insurance can cover a variety of different risks including:
- Burst Pipes
- Escape of oil
- Malicious damage
- Property liability
- Legal Expenses
How Do I Protect My Unoccupied Property?
If you have an empty building or house, it’s important to be aware of how this could affect your current buildings or home insurance. Insurers usually stipulate a variety of endorsements on your personal insurance policy that would need to be adhered to for cover to remain valid while the property is unoccupied. These could include:
- Regular visits to the unoccupied property, inspecting internally and externally for any issues that may have occurred. These could include unwanted intruders, damages, or water leaks. Any such damage should be reported to your insurer or broker at the earliest opportunity, as well as to the police if a crime has taken place. Check your property insurance policy wording for how often your vacant building or home needs to be inspected, and keep a record of each visit.
- Turn off electricity, gas, and water supplies at the mains, and drain down all water systems. Check your policy for specific endorsements as you may be asked to keep the heating system on, particularly during the winter months to prevent burst pipes. If the water system cannot be drained, ensure the heating is left on at no less than 7°C. Again, check this with your insurer as minimum temperatures can vary.
- Remove all waste and accumulated post on each visit, or keep the letterbox sealed.
- Ensure that all protection and security devices are activated, in full working order, and that the boundary is secure. This can be done by putting into force a maintenance plan to keep safe any perimeter fences and to keep vegetation tidy. Security lighting could also be used to assist in deterring intruders from accessing the building.
Please contact your insurance broker as soon as the property becomes unoccupied. Every policy will have different terms and cover changes that come into force when a property becomes empty. It may be that you need to take out specialist unoccupied building insurance to ensure your property is getting the best protection.
What To Look Out For When Inspecting An Unoccupied Property:
- Tampering of security measures, such as attempts to disable alarm systems or CCTV.
- Rubbish accumulation or fly-tipping, as this can be a potential fire and health hazard.
- Leaks and weather damage.
- Property maintenance issues that could worsen and result in financial loss if not rectified.
- Anti-social behaviour such as graffiti or vandalism.
If your property is going to remain unoccupied for an extended period of time, it may be appropriate to board up any accessible doors and windows. Similarly, you may want to ensure main entry doors are secured by a five-lever mortice deadlock to British Standard 3621 or similar.
If there is an alarm in place, this should continue to be operated, maintained, and inspected. A temporary alarm system, CCTV, or security service could also be considered for larger premises.
Should I Update My Home Insurance If My Property Is Unoccupied?
If your property is going to be unoccupied for an extended period of time – usually for 30 consecutive days or longer – you should update your insurer or broker as soon as possible. You may have endorsements or conditions on your policy regarding the length of time a property can be unoccupied before exclusions apply and cover is restricted. If this is the case, you will likely need a specialist buildings or home insurance policy for empty properties.
Reasons for a property becoming unoccupied could include:
- Inheriting a property and waiting for probate.
- Travelling the world on sabbatical for a long period of time.
- An extended holiday.
- A second home that’s used only part of the year.
- Moving into residential healthcare.
Unoccupied Property Insurance From Higos
At Higos, we understand that every unoccupied property is unique. That’s why we’ve built a team of unoccupied property insurance experts who provide bespoke, specialist insurance coverage for unoccupied homes, buildings, and properties. If the unexpected should happen, our friendly in-house claims team are ready to provide a prompt and personal service.
Are you interested in speaking to a chartered insurance broker for advice on unoccupied building insurance? Don’t hesitate to get in contact us at Higos! You can also fill out our online request a call-back form and a member of our unoccupied property insurance team will get back to you at another time.