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Unoccupied home insurance: what is it and how does it work?

If you leave your property empty for a long period of time, you may need insurance beyond a standard home insurance policy. 

In this scenario, you should consider unoccupied home insurance

We look at what unoccupied home insurance is, what it covers, the exclusions and how much you could expect to pay.  

Summary 

  • Unoccupied home insurance is useful if you’re planning to leave your property empty for an extended period of time. 

  • It can be more expensive than traditional home insurance. 

  • While unoccupied home insurance can cover damage to your property, there are exclusions you need to be aware of.  

  • When making any significant financial decision, it’s a good idea to get independent advice. 

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What is unoccupied house insurance? 

Standard home insurance will cover an unoccupied home for around 30 days, although this can vary between providers, so it’s best to check your policy.  

If you’re ever planning to leave your home empty for a long period of time, consider unoccupied home insurance. You should also contact your insurer and let them know.  

Unoccupied home insurance provides cover for unoccupied properties for various lengths of time, often at three-month intervals – so three, six and nine months – or even a year if need be. 

This type of insurance can be useful if you won’t be living on your property for a long time, whether you’re travelling, waiting for probate or selling your home but have already moved into a new property. 

Other situations that could involve your home being unoccupied can include moving into long-term residential care or avoiding extensive renovation work. 

It’s worth stressing that this type of insurance isn’t ideal if you’re a landlord looking for cover if your property is going to empty for a long time between tenants – unoccupied landlord insurance is more suitable. 

What does unoccupied property insurance cover? 

Unoccupied home insurance is useful as it could cover damage to your property caused by flooding, fire, storms, attempted theft or burglary, vandalism or damage from burst water pipes, a falling object or a vehicle.  

You may be able to benefit from public liability cover, so, for example, if a tree in your garden falls and damages your neighbour’s property, this could be covered.  

Alternatively, if someone starts squatting in your property and you need to take legal action to remove them, unoccupied home insurance may cover your legal expenses.  

It’s a good idea to check your policy to make sure you understand the terms and conditions, as some providers may need someone to check out the property on a regular basis (usually 14 days). 

Is anything excluded from unoccupied property insurance? 

There are a few exclusions to watch out for, such as: 

  • Burglary or damage occurring when your home isn’t secured: This means if you leave any doors or windows unlocked and your property is burgled, you won’t be covered. 

  • Damage caused by failing to take care of your home: If your home incurs any damage from poor maintenance, such as not taking care of mould, you will not be covered.  

  • Renovation work: Any damage caused by contractors or builders isn’t covered. 

What happens if I don’t have unoccupied property insurance and something happens? 

If your home is left empty for a prolonged period of time, your insurer is unaware of this, and you need to make a claim, your claim may be rejected. 

Also, standard home insurance is unlikely to cover issues that occur beyond the time period set out in the policy. This means you’ll have to pay to fix any damage or take legal action against squatters.

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How do you get unoccupied home insurance? 

Many comparison sites don’t offer quotes for unoccupied property insurance. 

If you already have home insurance, you can contact your provider to see if this can be added or consider contacting an insurance broker. 

How much does unoccupied property insurance cost? 

The average cost of unoccupied home insurance typically increases with the length of time you leave your property empty. 

According to Confused.com, the average annual cost is: 

  • £162 for a property left unoccupied for up to 30 days. 
  • £184 for a property left unoccupied for 30-60 days. 
  • £240 for a property left unoccupied for over 60 days. 

Unoccupied house insurance usually costs more than standard home insurance due to the higher risk of issues occurring. 

However, there are a few factors that could affect how much you pay, such as the property’s value, cover period, your level of cover, security features, claims history and where your home is. 

So, if you own an expensive house in a high-crime area, you’ll usually pay more to get cover compared to a less pricey property in a low-crime area that has more security features.  

Tips to reduce the cost of unoccupied property insurance 

If you’re hoping to pay lower premiums for your insurance, there are many things you can do, including: 

  • Shopping around for the best quote: It’s worth comparing many quotes to get the right policy for you. Always check that everything you need from your policy is included. 

  • Pay annually, not monthly: Some insurance providers may offer a cheaper price if you pay upfront instead of opting for monthly instalments. 

  • Insure for the correct amount: It’s worth calculating the value of your contents (if there are any in your home) correctly, as well as the rebuild value, so you pay the right amount.

  • Get a higher excess: You may be able to reduce your premium by increasing the amount you pay if you need to make a claim.  

If you need help with your finances, Unbiased can quickly connect you with an independent adviser.  

Alternatively, an insurance broker may be able to help you find an unoccupied home insurance policy. 

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About the author
Lisa-Marie Voneshen is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of experience writing and editing content across various areas, including personal finance and investing.