This article explains why normal house insurance might not be enough if you leave your property empty for long periods, and what to consider with an unoccupied home insurance policy.
You pay for insurance for the home you live in, and assume that you are covered whether you are there or not. However, most insurance policies have exclusions to the cover which mean that once they deem a property to be unoccupied, they will not insure it. This is largely down to the fact that if a house is unoccupied it takes longer to detect problems which can result in greater damage being caused, and therefore the cost of repair can be greatly increased. Most insurers take thirty days as being the cut-off point for a house being unoccupied, and it’s not too hard for this limit to be reached – extended holidays, probate, a stay in hospital or even using the house as a holiday home can easily tip you over the limit, and once you exceed thirty consecutive days of absence the property is no longer covered. An unoccupied house insurance policy is what you need in this case, but not all insurers offer it and, to get the best deal in terms of price vs. cover, you need to think about what you need.
The biggest aspect of the cover will be for the building itself. If you have a mortgage then this will probably be required by the lender, but it’s up to you what options you take. Fire and flood damage are obvious basic ones, but you can expand to cover theft and criminal damage, storm damage or any other risks you feel are appropriate.
While the main part of unoccupied house insurance focuses on the building, there are also times when you’ll want to include the contents. Obviously that won’t apply if the house has been emptied in preparation for sale, but if it’s a holiday home then the chances are you’ll have a full set of furniture and other items that you want to insure.
If the house is to be occupied at regular times, then it may suit you to buy cover on a monthly, quarterly or half-yearly basis, to ensure that you aren’t paying for a full years cover when you don’t need it. The same applies if the house is up for sale and empty, as you never quite know when the sale will complete and paying for more time than you need is a waste of money.
Whatever your needs are, try not to buy a generic unoccupied house insurance policy. By their very nature these try to cover all possible risks, and as a result can be expensive to purchase. While you might be covered for everything that could happen, some of the elements are likely to not be relevant unto you, so it’s better to find a broker who can talk through your needs and tailor a policy to your specific requirements.