For many of us, our home is a hive of activity and never stands unoccupied for more than a couple of weeks but there may be occasions when it is empty for a longer period of time.
Perhaps you are lucky enough to have booked an extended trip overseas, or perhaps you have purchased a second property or a holiday home; all these are very good reasons why you might need empty house insurance.
You may not realise it but your existing home insurance will contain a clause that your property must not be left unoccupied. If it is left empty for longer than the policy allows, your cover will be made void both during and after your absence.
For this reason, if you have a property which is likely to remain unoccupied for extended periods of time, taking out empty home insurance is a must.
We take a look at insurance for unoccupied property and how to work out what you need.
Why you need insurance for empty houses
There's a wide range of reasons why a property might be standing empty for some time and estimates suggest there are as many as 700,000 in the UK at any one time.
Some buildings are awaiting refurbishment, owners may have had to go into hospital or care, whilst some lucky folk are enjoying the sights and sounds of exotic locations.
Whatever the reason, it's essential to be aware that a regular house policy will not provide insurance for empty houses. Of course everyone may leave for short periods from time to time so the vast majority of policies permit a property to be left temporarily but a cap of 30 consecutive days (typically) is usually stipulated. If you expect your absence to be longer, you will need specific empty property insurance.
What are the risks in not insuring an empty house?
If you are planning on being away for a while but will be returning – and all your contents are still in situ – then finding cheap unoccupied house insurance probably sounds like a good idea.
However, if the property is not just unoccupied but more or less empty, you may wonder at the value of bothering with insuring unoccupied property. After all, what's the point in taking out insurance for unoccupied house and its contents if there is nothing there to cover?!
First and foremost, the risk is not just to the contents, but also the structure. Building insurance for unoccupied property will provide cover in case there is damage caused by floods, fire or other events. A house is a large investment and one you will want to protect.
Even if there are no contents, the property could also become a target for vandals and thieves; you might be surprised at what unscrupulous people decide to steal! By having building insurance unoccupied cover, you will be protected if the worst happens.
Finally, without insurance for empty house you could be liable if any damage is caused to surrounding properties. For example, if a slate falls onto your neighbour's property, or there was a fire which also damaged their walls, without vacant property insurance, you would be left to foot the bill.
How to compare unoccupied home insurance cover
If you need this type of cover and are about to carry out an unoccupied property insurance comparison, it's vital that you consider more than just the cost.
If you think the property will only be empty for a short time, don't rush into taking out a full year's worth of home insurance unoccupied property cover. Because many properties will be empty for longer than the 30 days specified by regular insurance but much less than a year, it is possible to take out short term unoccupied house insurance. This can start from as little as 3 months and is a great way to prevent wasting money on insurance you won't ultimately need for the full year.
Not all policies which provide house insurance unoccupied cover will offer the same degree of protection. Some insurers will exclude malicious damage or claims which arise from the escape of water and, if the property still has contents, the cover may be more restricted. Compare unoccupied house insurance to make sure a policy exclusion won’t cost you.
Not all insurers have the same rules so it's worth shopping around to not only get a good price but to ensure the protection you buy is as comprehensive as possible. Unfortunately an empty house is a bigger risk for many reasons and there's not too much you can do about that but you can ensure that you are protected just in case the worst case scenario occurs.