Unoccupied property – Faqs

Here you will find answers to some of the most commonly encountered questions on the subject of unoccupied property and empty house insurance.

Note that this applies typically to both owner-occupiers and landlords with let properties.

Is there a difference between empty property and unoccupied property?

In insurance terms, no, there typically is no difference in the sense that you will need to take special steps to ensure the continuity of your cover should your property meet definitions of it being empty or unoccupied.

The only significant issue about whether your property is unoccupied and furnished or unoccupied and empty is that in the latter situation, you may wish to question whether or not you still need contents cover.

There may also be certain situations where your property is going to stand empty for an extended period due to major building work. In those situations, you may again require a special form of buildings insurance if you wish cover to continue.

What are the “special insurance arrangements” referred to above?

Standard buildings and contents insurance will only cover your property up to a specified number of consecutive days, in the event it is empty or unoccupied. That figure is typically somewhere around 30-45 consecutive days.

After that time, if you wish cover to remain in force, you will typically need to take out empty property insurance. This is sometimes also referred to as “unoccupied property insurance”.

Why do I need different cover?

When your property is unoccupied, its risk profile changes.

For example, it is an accepted fact that burglars and vandals prefer to commit crimes against property that they have very good reason to believe is unoccupied. The vast majority of such criminals wish to avoid any risk of confrontation.

There are also other examples of how the risks change.

Your insurance provider will want to make sure that you have cover in place that accurately reflects the risk profile of your property.

What if I couldn’t help the property becoming unoccupied?

Typically, the requirement for a different form of cover would apply whatever the circumstances.

Let’s assume, hypothetically, that an extended overseas business trip overran meaning that your property sat unoccupied for more than the maximum number of consecutive days as specified by your policy. Your cover would still be at risk even if you had had no control whatsoever over the reasons for your delay overseas.

Another example might apply in the case of landlords and let properties. If you are struggling to let your property and it goes over the specified maximum number of consecutive days while you’re waiting for new tenants, any standard property insurance you had might be at risk.

Could I get emergency cover over the telephone?

It’s slightly dangerous to generalise but many providers will be able to assist you to put emergency empty property insurance in place if you contacted them via phone once you knew there was an issue.

Is the type of cover provided by standard property policies the same as unoccupied insurance policies?

There may be differences in the elements of the cover. A lot will depend upon the specific nature of the empty property insurance policy you are considering. You should address the specifics of that with the policy’s provider.

One thing that is almost certain to change is that empty property insurance will typically bring with it special conditions you will need to comply with. They might include things such as, for example:

  • the need for someone to periodically inspect the property and keep a journal of the visits plus details of any remedial work undertaken;
  • all external areas to be kept in good condition and with no obvious evidence displayed that the property is, in fact, empty.