If you need to buy insurance with which you are unfamiliar or perhaps know little about, consult an insurance broker, suggests the government-backed Money Advice Service.
By using a broker, you get experts in any given field of insurance, so are likely to secure better cover at a more competitive price, says the website.
Unoccupied property insurance
Unoccupied property insurance might be one of those products which is unfamiliar and of which you have little prior knowledge – you may never before have been in the position of leaving property you own empty and unoccupied.
But as unoccupied property insurance brokers may tell you, it might happen more easily – and more often – than you imagined:
- you might be renovating a home or let property and need to leave it empty whilst the builders are in;
- you are away on an extended holiday;
- your work takes you away from home for more than a month or two;
- as a landlord, you face a longer than usual void between previous tenants moving out and a new tenancy being agreed; or
- a property you hope to inherit remains empty and unoccupied pending the completion of the necessary probate.
In any of these circumstances the standard home insurance or landlord insurance which otherwise protects the property may prove inadequate because of the additional, specific risks to which an unoccupied property remains vulnerable.
An unoccupied property attracts the unwelcome attention of burglars, intruders, squatters and even arsonists, for example, whilst the need for otherwise minor maintenance might develop into a full-scale emergency if there is no one at home to spot the impending loss and damage.
What you might not know is that your provider of regular home or landlord insurance therefore reduces the scope of your cover – or regards it as lapsed altogether – once the property has stood empty or unoccupied for longer than 30 to 45 consecutive days (the precise interval varying from one insurer to another).
Unoccupied property insurance brokers
Unoccupied property insurance brokers are fully aware of these limitations and know that the answer to the temporary inadequacy of existing cover lies in your arranging standalone, purpose-designed unoccupied property insurance.
Even if you are aware of the need to arrange such specialist cover, be aware that all manner of policies are on the market, but that some continue to offer only very restricted insurance only. An example is so-called FLEE insurance, known by its initials because it covers the risks of fire, lightening, explosions and earthquakes only while a property is unoccupied.
Unoccupied property insurance brokers, on the other hand, may suggest products which continue to provide the building and contents insurance which your unoccupied property requires – namely, unoccupied or empty property insurance.
As the British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) points out, just like all brokers, unoccupied property insurance brokers are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), are obliged to represent your interests as a client, and are there to provide guidance and advice on your choice of the appropriate insurance products, and to offer assistance in the event of your needing to make an insurance claim.