Making it easy to find and compare unoccupied insurance

As a specialist home insurance comparison site, CoverBuilder will provide you with a range of results based on your situation. This allows you to choose different cover and premiums depending on what level of insurance you need. Here you’ll find all the information you need about unoccupied property insurance. We’ll do all the legwork, comparing quotes from a wide range of specialist providers. By doing this we bring you a comprehensive selection of the best insurance deals on the market today.

 

What is unoccupied property insurance?

This is home insurance specially designed to cover houses that are going to be left empty for longer than normal periods. The policy is designed with the knowledge that an empty house is more of a risk to insure.

The result is this is often classed as a specialist home insurance and therefore not always offered by mainstream insurance companies. It is very important to tell your insurer if you plan to be away from your property for a prolonged period.


What situations require unoccupied insurance?

There are many circumstances where you may be required to take out specialised empty property insurance, and we’ve highlighted the most common scenarios below:

Illustration of a house with a for sale sign in front of it. If you’re currently selling your property, we understand that in some situations, you may have already moved out of your house in order to ensure your dream home doesn’t fall through. In these situations, you’ll likely be waiting for a buyer on your current property and therefore, require specialist unoccupied home insurance in the meantime. As the property buying chain can often take months to complete, we recommend you take out an unoccupied home insurance policy that can accommodate this and allows for cancellations mid-policy.
Illustration of a burning candle on a table top.In the unfortunate situation where a relative or friend has sadly died, a specialised unoccupied property insurance policy will be required in order to cover the home and all internal possessions until ownership of the property is decided. As is the case with many vacant property scenarios, it’s best to try and take out a policy that allows cancellations as many ownership decision periods rarely last the standard 12 months.
Illustration of an official letter.If a property is going through probate following the death of the policyholder, the responsibility to insure the building falls to the executors of the estate. Executor insurance is designed to protect you, as the executor, in addition to the property until a sale is completed or new occupation takes place.
illustration of a paint roller and blue paint on the wall.If you’re planning to renovate your property, either with full scale renovations or extension work, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to vacate the property whilst the works are completed. In this scenario, unoccupied property insurance can help give you peace of mind that any accidental damage will be covered. In addition, renovation insurance can also be taken out to cover a wide range of buildings works, regardless of whether the property is occupied or not.
Illustration of a houseIf you own a second home, be that a residential property that you let out a couple of times a year, or a holiday home, chances are it will be vacant for extended periods of time. Specialised unoccupied property insurance is ideal in these situations as it will protect you from hefty repair bills if the property is damaged while vacant, while any possessions will also be covered from damage and theft.
Illustration of a suitcase with a plane in the background.Going away for a week or two is generally covered under standard home insurance policies, but sometimes people visit family overseas or enjoy a well-earned extended holiday. Whatever the reason, extended vacations will often result in unoccupied properties for months at a time. Many insurers won’t cover you in these situations, but as a specialised empty home insurance comparison site, we can help you source insurers who do.
Illustration of an army soldier in uniform.If you’re employed by the armed forces then from time to time you may be stationed abroad as part of your service. In this scenario, unless your partner or spouse is remaining in the country, your home will be left vacant, and therefore, you’ll need specialist empty home insurance to provide you with the relevant cover for your needs.
Illustration of an oil working with an oil rig in the background.In addition to the armed forces, there are also a number of other occupations that can lead to you living away from your home for extended periods of time, such as working on an offshore oil rig or onboard a cargo ship. Many standard home insurance policies are unable to cover this kind of situation, while many providers won’t offer insurance as they view unoccupied properties as high risk. In this situation, you’ll need to source specialised unoccupied property insurance. At CoverBuilder, we can help source and compare the best empty house insurance deals, meaning you’ll be covered no matter how long you’re away from home for.
If you’re a landlord, chances are that you’ll have a number of buy-to-let properties within your portfolio, and that means you’ll likely find yourself in a situation where a tenant(s) moves out and you’re waiting for your new tenant(s) to move in. This period can be short or prolonged, especially if renovation work is required, and specialised unoccupied property insurance can help protect the property and any possessions during these vacant periods.
If you’re admitted to hospital, home insurance is likely to be the last thing on your mind, but if you stay in hospital is expected to be prolonged, it is worth taking out a specialised unoccupied home insurance policy to protect your home and possessions and give you peace of mind as you undergo treatment and recover. If you’re unable to take out a vacant property insurance policy yourself, you can ask a spouse or other family member to take out the policy for you.

Comparing unoccupied insurance made easy

Comparing unoccupied property insurance through CoverBuilder couldn’t be easier. Our powerful insurance comparison software takes all the legwork out of comparing unoccupied property insurance quotes so you receive quotes that are tailored to your specific needs.

Before starting your quote, it is best to have the details about your property at hand, so for example the type of property (terraced, detached etc.), the age of the property, the reason for the unoccupancy (awaiting sale, renovation works, living abroad for work etc.), the mortgage details if relevant, and the length of time you want to cover, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days+.

You should also consider variables such as the level of excess you’re willing to pay should you need to claim, whether you need contents insurance included, the damages covered by the insurance, and the total rebuild cost should the worst happen. Be careful not to underestimate the amount of cover you need otherwise you could be left in financial complications should a rebuild estimate exceed your level of cover. Likewise, be sure not to over-insure as you’ll end up paying over the odds for cover you don’t need.

 

Cover for less than 12 months

The nature of unoccupied properties means some empty homes can be vacant for an unspecified amount of time. Whether that’s the standard 30 days which most mainstream insurers define unoccupancy as, or the more non standard timeframes of 60 or 90 days. Landlords who are currently between tenants, homeowners looking to sell a vacant property, properties in probate, and park home/Airbnb owners are just a few examples where short term unoccupied home insurance for a very limited period of time may be necessary.

Our dedicated unoccupied home insurance policy can be set up and then cancelled at any point. After the initial cooling off period of 14 days, there is a no cancellation fee throughout the policy term and we will then organise a pro-rata refund of the remaining premium, so if you’re after 90 days of unoccupied property insurance rather than a full 12 months, our flexible policy terms ensure you are only paying for the period of time on cover with us.

Some insurance companies also offer customers the ability to extend the unoccupied coverage within their policy, for example from 30 days to 90 days. Often this is done in the form of ‘bolt on’ cover that is an extra cost to the basic premium. When taking out a policy designed to cover an unoccupied period, we strongly suggest understanding how long a term (in one go) is permitted.


Frequently asked questions

We’ve put together a list of questions often asked by customers looking to insure an unoccupied property.

An empty room with some picture frame and a sofa left in it. Yes, insurance companies offer dedicated unoccupied insurance for houses that are going to be left empty. This cover can be short-term or up to a full 12 months policy. Premium and the level of cover does vary depending what you want to protect and to what extent.
a woman sat at a table looking out of a window keeping an eye on your unoccupied property

Getting a neighbour to key an eye on your home when it’s empty can help spot issues early on.

Many unoccupied policy providers will state in the terms of their cover that someone must visit the property on a regular basis. This can be you or someone trustworthy you appoint. The frequency can vary from every week to every month as an example. The reason for these visits is to maintain some form of presence at the property and increase the chance of spotting any issues e.g. water leaking early and therefore preventing costly claims. Anyone watching the property will also see that the property is being visited on a regular basis and therefore puts off potential burglary.

a person handing someone keys to a property with a house keyring. Yes, if you’re selling your home and have already moved out, or are selling an empty second property, you can take out an unoccupied property insurance policy to ensure the building and any contents are protected from damage, both from natural events and criminal activity.
Preventing damage by turning off water gas and electricityInsurers often require you to turn off your water, gas and electricity in order to qualify for empty home insurance. However, during the winter months, your insurer may require your water, gas and or electricity be left on. This is to prevent frozen pipes by keeping the water circulating around the system.
Water damage when the property is unoccupiedWater can cause a lot of damage if a leak isn’t spotted and rectified promptly. Insurers can often exclude water damage from their unoccupied property insurance policies. It’s always best to check the wording of your policy carefully to make sure that water damage is included.
A man working on a laptop that is placed on a desk.

It is possible with many policies to switch from an unoccupied policy to a standard home insurance policy.

This depends on the company you choose to insure with. Some will allow you to notify them that the property will no longer be left unoccupied for a long period and adjust the level of cover. Some may require you to cancel the policy and purchase a standard policy. It is very important to understand what the cancellation fees are for your policy or the policy you are thinking of buying. Cancellation fees vary by insurance company from £0 to as high as £100. You may also be charged for a set number of days on cover by some insurers.

A piggy bank on a table with a man hands forming a roof over it.

Check the cancellation fee of the unoccupied property insurer you are thinking of choosing.

Home insurers will allow you to cancel within 14 days for free and with a full refund. This is the ‘cooling off period’ and is provided in case you change your mind about the insurance policy or company. Outside of these 14 days the charges and cancellation fees vary quite considerably by insurance company. It is highly recommended to check what these fees are BEFORE you take the policy out. These extra fees can make initially cheap premiums work out more expensive. Some cancellation fees can be as high as £75 with a requirement to pay a minimum premium.

Illustration of an empty room with unoccupied property periods displayed as 30, 45, 60 and 90 days.

Periods classed as unoccupied can be different depending on the insurance company.

Depending on your insurance policy, there will be a standard allowance where you can leave your property empty and not have to notify your insurer. Within this unoccupied limit you will have the standard level of cover that comes with your policy. Once you go over that limit then the insurer will likely drop that level of cover down to a very basic level of standard perils. This means you are only covered for the basics e.g. fire or explosion and not for claims such as water damage and theft.

Even though this is considered specialist insurance, it isn’t necessarily an overly expensive premium. Factors such as level of cover, length of policy and payment method will dictate how much you pay. If you are only needing short term home insurance then there are policies that offer empty house insurance for 3 months or less. Or you could choose a provider who has no cancellation fees and pro-rata refunds.
An empty room with personal possessions and other items stacked in boxes.Leaving a property empty or unoccupied for longer than 30 days will often have an impact on your home insurance. Each home insurance policy will have an allowance of occupancy, e.g. up to 30 days. If you intend to be away from your home longer than the allowance of your policy then you must notify your company. They may be able to continue your insurance but at a reduced level of cover. If they are unable to offer cover then you will need to get dedicated unoccupied property insurance.
A woman looking quizzical due to the question what do insurers class as unoccupiedMost insurers define an unoccupied property as any home that is going to be left empty for 30 consecutive days or more. This means a standard home insurance policy will cover you to this number of days before cover is reduce, sometimes considerably. There are companies who have higher unoccupied limits e.g. 45 days or 60 days. If you are looking for high levels of cover for longer than 60 days then you will need to protect your home with unoccupied property insurance.
An unoccupied property that is showing extensive damage due to a fire
There are three main reasons why insurance companies consider a house left empty for long periods more of a risk.
  1. Greater levels of damage from fires, water and storm. This is due to someone not being there to spot the issue early.  By the time the problem is discovered it has caused considerable damage, if not catastrophic. For the insurer the cost of the claim is much higher and more of a risk for them to insure.
  2. More susceptible to theft, malicious and criminal damage. Thieves will target empty houses that are less of a risk for them to break into and get caught. An empty house will allow more time and opportunity for thieves to steal more of your contents and cause damage.
  3. Damage from squatters can be extensive due to the general disregard and care shown to your property.
Unoccupied property insurance cover in northern ireland

We compare unoccupied property insurance for homes based in Northern Ireland.

Whilst some insurers restrict their coverage to exclude Norther Ireland there are still a wide selection of providers who offer cover for properties situated in Northern Ireland. Get a quote with CoverBuilder to compare your choice of policies.


6 quick and easy ways to keep your empty house safe

An empty property can attract unwanted attention as a result of it not being well prepared, maintained and managed. Our quick guide provides a very simple overview on how to keep your home safe.

 

Illustration of a house marked one to six. These related to the bullet points provided.

 

  1. Avoid leaving letters and flyers hanging out of the letterbox. This is one of the easiest signs for someone to spot an empty house.
  2. Maintain any gardens, lawns, trees and bushes. Neglecting any green areas around your property soon gives a tell-tale sign that there isn’t much attention being paid. Combined with point 1, someone looking for a potential target will look more closely at your empty house.
  3. Securely lock all windows and doors to make sure entry to the building is as difficult as possible. Where budget allows, multi-locking dead-bolts can be used to increase the difficulty of entry. This is often a condition of an empty house insurance policy.
  4. Installing an alarm is a visual and audible deterrent to anyone looking to gain illegal access to your property. Many alarm companies now offer full 24/7 monitoring and responding subscriptions.
  5. If you have a neighbour within the local vicinity of your property then think about asking them to check. Regular checks to make sure the property is secure and points 1&2 are addressed can help your property to stay off the radar.
  6. Keep the property exterior in good condition. You can then repair any wear and tear/damage before it leads to more complex issues.

Here’s more information on keeping your empty house safe.



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