Unoccupied Home Insurance Explained

Unoccupied home insurance is not simply standard home insurance with a different name. We have put together this simple guide to explain the differences and help you understand what it is you can do to stay best protected while you are not in your home.

What is unoccupied home insurance? 

Unoccupied Home Insurance is a specialised insurance policy to cover your home should you need to leave it unoccupied. The normal amount of time you can leave your home unoccupied on a standard home insurance policy is 30 days. Any longer than this will mean that you won’t be covered and will need to acquire unoccupied home insurance.

Do I need unoccupied home insurance?

There are many reasons why you might want unoccupied home insurance. You may be unable to reside during renovations, awaiting a probate or sale or the occupier may have been taken into care. If you have a long-term unoccupied property that is not your main residence, then unoccupied home insurance may well be what you need.

How does it differ from Standard Home Insurance?

Simply put, unoccupied properties are at a higher risk. For obvious reasons unoccupied homes are more attractive to vandals and thieves but the ‘big’ risks that insurers are most concerned with are things like fire, flood or subsidence and these cannot be spotted as early on if no one is around. This means the damage could be worse and you should have a higher level of protection.

Cover for water leaks - Many customers come to us looking for a policy that protects against escape of water (water leaks). As a common but highly destructive peril it can be difficult to find cover for this. We can provide water cover on our level 3 policy. 

The importance of unoccupied home insurance

This happens if the property is being renovated, if the property is awaiting probate or pending sale or let. If your property is soon to be unoccupied or already is, your standard home insurance may not cover you. Here at Towergate, we’ve developed a range of options for a range of circumstances.

As there’s no one at your property, that makes it more susceptible to criminal damage, break ins and squatters. To keep your property secure, we recommend the following:

  • Key operated devices on all opening windows and skylights

  • An approved lock or mortice deadlocks of at least 5 levers

  • Or a rim automatic dead latch with a key locking handle on the inside

Finally, if your property is being renovated, we can cover you but we’ll need to know some further information. Give us a call and one of our advisers will take you through everything you need to know and ask you all the relevant questions to ensure your property stays covered during renovation works.

Unoccupied Home Insurance is a specialised insurance policy to cover your home should you need to leave it unoccupied. The normal amount of time you can leave your home unoccupied on a standard home insurance policy is 30 days. Any longer than this will mean that you won’t be covered and will need to acquire unoccupied home insurance.

Unoccupied home insurance explained

Buildings Insurance

Generally the most important part of home insurance is the buildings cover. In insurance speak the building is defined as “the Home and its permanent fixtures and fittings, swimming pools, paths, drives, terraces, walls, hedges, gates and fences all contained within the boundaries of the Land. 

The Rebuild Cost

This is the cost you should be insuring your property for. It is the most you can claim should there be a total destruction of your home. You must take into consideration the cost of demolition and clearance, solicitor, surveyor and architects fees and re-building, including outbuilding, pools boundary walls etc. Our advisors can talk you through the process of how to work out your re-build cost.

Property Owners Liability

This is often the most misunderstood or overlooked by property owners. Towergate's liability insurance is to compensate loss, damage or injury to 3rd parties and their property. It’s important because it is your responsibility to oversee that the property is adequately maintained and this makes you ultimately responsible. Our policy covers you for up to £2 million of damages.

Contents insurance - Unoccupied property insurance can be taken out as buildings cover only (meaning just the structure) or buildings and contents. 

A great way to understand the difference between your ‘contents’ and your ‘building’ would be to (hypothetically) tip your house the wrong way up. Anything that would fall is considered contents. This would mean furniture and decorations are contents but the walls, ceiling and kitchen cabinets come under buildings insurance.

Optional Legal Cover

Legal expenses will usually cover you up to £50,000 for the pursuit of legal action against an array of issues such as the removal of squatters, personal identity theft, nuisance or trespass. This optional cover costs £20.70 per year with Towergate Insurance Unoccupied Property Insurance. 

Unoccupied home insurance tiers

Our unoccupied home insurance policies has tiers to suit the varying needs of all our customers. We offer three options to provide you with flexibility.

  • Fire, Lighting, Earthquake and Explosion cover only 

  • Cover Excluding Escape of Water cover  
  • Full cover which covers a range of perils including Fire, Lightning, Explosion, Escape of Water, Theft and Attempted Theft. 

Some of our customers request legal expenses cover for that extra bit of financial protection. We can add £50,000 of cover to your policy for this purpose. It will come at an additional charge but features:

  • Removal of squatters from the property
  • Property damage
  • Personal Identity Theft
  • 24 hour Legal helpline

Unoccupied home insurance requirements

The appearance of your property

Most unoccupied policies will require that the property meets a certain level of repair on the outside, so as to not advertise that it is unoccupied. This means the front gardens should be well kept, the condition of the paint and walls should not appear decrepit and the windows should not be boarded.

Regular checks 

A very important condition that is standard on most unoccupied policies is that the property must be visited once every 7 days. The reason for this being that the visible areas of the property must be maintained, this meets to the requirement that the property does not look empty mentioned previously. The main reason though is that this way any crime does not get left un-reported and any issues with the house like water leaks or damage from a storm does not remain un-treated and cause unnecessary further damage. The person who visits does not need to be the policy holder or owner, it can be a relative, friend or managing agency but the ultimate responsibility is with the policy holder to make sure the property does not suffer from being unoccupied.

Security

In an unoccupied property the security measures are your first and last line of defence. Your policy will require that a standard minimum of ‘5 lever mortice deadlocks’ or ‘BS3621 locks’ are used on the external doors and key operated window locks on all windows. There are also requirements for any out-buildings. If you cannot meet the security requirements for whatever reason, call one of our advisors directly to discuss how we may still be able to help you.

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