Empty Property Insurance Are You Covered?
Are You Responsible For An Empty Property If So Read On!
More than 700,000 residential properties in England are left unoccupied, according to the charity Empty Homes. These vacant properties are often managed by people taking responsibility for the estate or affairs of another person or while a property is awaiting sale. However, many wrongly assume that existing buildings and contents cover would provide adequate protection should something go wrong and as a result hundreds of thousands of homes are currently uninsured.
"Standard home insurance is insufficient because most policies state that your property must not be unoccupied for more than 30 days," said Nick Long, managing director of British Insurance. "If it is, it's likely the policy will be invalidated and any claim rejected."
This means that in the event of a burst pipe causing a flood, for example, the insurance wouldn't cover the cost of any damage to the building or its contents.
However, it is possible to get cover from a specialist unoccupied insurer which will cover the property for a longer period of time. Providers such as Towergate, Endsleigh and British Insurance offer policies that can be purchased for three, six, nine or 12 months, with options to extend for longer.
This type of policy will provide the property owners with liability as well as offering protection against vandalism and break-ins, theft from garages and other outbuildings, as well as damage caused by storms, floods, water leaks, fire and smoke.
However, not all homes will qualify for this type of cover and must adhere to certain conditions for the duration of the policy. For example, properties must be in a good state of repair and not boarded up and have robust locking mechanisms.
To reduce the likelihood of making a claim on an empty property, home owners should ensure they keep up the maintenance, service the boiler and central heating, look out for any fractured water pipes and have the electrics checked. It is also worth cutting back the garden and, where possible, asking a friend or neighbour to leave their car in the drive. Similarly, installing light-timer switches and clearing the post can reduce your risk of break-ins.
If the property is empty over the winter, policyholders should take steps to protect against winter conditions. This is especially important as figures from Hiscox show that last year the winter freeze accounted for the largest proportion of home and contents claims, ahead of fire and theft – and more than a quarter of these were for unoccupied properties.