Updated April 2022.
Whether it’s through choice or through factors outside your control, you may have a home that is currently unoccupied. You may also have wondered if you even need insurance for an unoccupied home. To help you make that decision, we’ve put together this simple guide outlining your options.
Defining a ‘vacant home’ for insurance purposes
A vacant home can generally be defined as not containing enough furniture for a resident to reasonably live there. This is not the only definition however, and homeowners may find several circumstances that require their house to be unoccupied for more than 40 consecutive days. These can include:
- The owner now resides in a nursing home
- The home is for sale
- The property owner is seeking new tenants
- The home is being renovated
The most important item to note is that no one resides in the home at all. Now that you know that, here’s what you need to know about vacant home insurance:
1. Maintaining and improving your property
If you are the owner of a vacant home, you have a responsibility to keep it in a good state of repair, including prevention of any damage, loss, or potential accidents that could harm the property. If you make any improvements, conversions, extensions or other structural work to the vacant property, you must inform your broker/insurer before you start this work. Inform them immediately if the work changes the use of the buildings in any way or involves the external surfaces of the buildings being changed or affected.
2. Check your current policy
Make sure to check over your current policy completely, as failure to comply with conditions included may result in any future unoccupied house insurance claims being declined. This is also a good time to check with your insurance company and clarify any special conditions or if a new policy is required in the event that the property becomes occupied further down the line.
3. Security is essential
A poorly maintained garden or exterior can be an easy signal to potential thieves and vandals that your home is unoccupied. However, a vacant property with good security is up to three times less likely to be burgled. As a result, installing security systems like alarms, CCTV cameras, dead bolts, and even motion detector systems can lower your insurance premium.
4. Comparing Policies
Not all unoccupied home insurance policies are the same, so it is essential that you compare them. One of the easiest ways to do this is to compare actual policy forms. Things to look out for include:
- • What named perils are covered?
- • How often are you required to check the property?
- • Can you leave the electricity on to maintain your alarm?
- • In the event of renovation works being carried out is your builder required to have his own insurance?
5. Know what’s covered, understand it and think about adjusting it
Unoccupied home insurance covers your home only while it is unoccupied, and generally do not allow for people to stay over at the property. It is important not to confuse unoccupied home insurance for other insurance options like holiday home insurance policies. Using the home for the wrong reason can invalidate your policy, so you will need to work with your Insurance Broker or Insurance Company to ensure you have the right cover for your needs.
While it is essential that owners of vacant homes have the correct insurance, it is equally if not more important to work with your insurance company to clarify any special conditions that may apply to your policy if the occupancy status of your home changes. Talk to insurance experts and check policies side-by-side to ensure you are getting the best deal and you fully understand what is covered and your needs are catered for. Once all that is taken care of, it is essential that the home is properly maintained to reduce the risk of a claim having to be made. Finally, keep security conscious even if the property is not being occupied. Having a comprehensive security system in place (alarm systems, CCTV cameras, dead bolts or motion detector systems) means the property could be up to three times less likely to be burgled.
Your home may be unoccupied but we’re not!
OBF Insurance Group are a genuine broker that are genuinely here to help you make the best decision about your unoccupied home insurance. If you’re looking for the right financial protection for you, someone to be on your side, or someone to give you the best possible advice for your particular insurance situation, our team of experts are here to help you be confident in your decision and the end result.
Contact our team today to discuss your options and take that first step on your insurance journey.