Do I need Unoccupied Home Insurance?

Caeva O'Callaghan | February 10th, 2023

There are many reasons why you might leave a house vacant or unoccupied for an extended period of time. But do you need to tell your home insurance company?

If you leave your home unoccupied for 40 days or more, you should continue to insure it. It’s very important to notify your insurer if you plan on not being home for a period of time.

When you leave your home vacant, the risk factors change. This is why your insurance provider needs to update your policy. It’s to reflect the changes in occupation which will potentially result in different risks to the property.

In this article, we’ll cover questions such as:

  • Will my home still have insurance if it is vacant?
  • Do I need to tell my home insurance if I leave my home unoccupied?
  • What are the risks of an unoccupied home?

In most cases, leaving your home vacant will result in your insurer reducing the cover on your policy. Read on to find out more.

How do I know if my house is unoccupied?

Maybe you’ve inherited a vacant home, are awaiting the sale of a property or making major renovations. In any case, the minimum is 40 days to consider a home vacant. So, if you won’t be home for longer – including overnight stays – you need to tell your home insurance provider.

Another scenario where you might leave a house empty is when the resident has gone into a nursing home. Or, if the property is going up for sale or rent with no chain.

You can get 6 month or 12 month long home insurance policies to cover the length of vacancy.

If your property is empty or you know you’ll be vacating soon, you’ll need to contact your insurance provider. They will ask you quite a few questions, such as:

  • The reason the premises will be empty
  • The dates that the property will be empty for
  • Whether you’ll leave furniture inside

All of these will affect the risk factor, which will impact how much you will pay for your home insurance premium. With this in mind, it’s important to make sure the property is safe and secure before you attempt to insure it, and that the house is kept in this state.

What risks do empty homes face?

If your home will be vacant over winter, it may be likely that your insurer will insist on special measures to protect it. For example, they may ask that you drain the water system and leave the heating on low, or on a schedule, to protect against frozen pipes. This is a great idea even if you’re leaving your home empty for a shorter period of time.

When water remains still and unmoving in the pipes, it can freeze solid and expand. This leads to burst pipes and bad leaks. Instead, drain the system or leave the taps dripping a tiny amount to keep the water moving.

Empty homes are also prime targets for vandals. You will need to make the home as safe and secure as possible before leaving it vacant. This means ensuring all locks on doors and windows are functional and solid.

You will also want to make sure the roof and structure are sound. If you’re not going to be anywhere near your home for the next month or maybe more, you don’t want to have to deal with a public liability claim from a remote location.

Making your property secure will also mean securing it against wet perils such as storms, floods or leaks. This is because your insurer will likely reduce your policy cover to fire only.

How to insure a vacant home

Many policies for vacant houses will be dependent on the property being left in a good state of repair while empty. This means that insurers are often unwilling to insure properties with boards on the windows or pre-existing damage.

Your Insurer will reduce the cover to fire only – which will exclude damage done by storms, floods and leaks. This is because no one will be at the home to reasonably protect against such risks. The liability sections will remain in force.

All you need to do is get in touch with your home insurance provider and let them know the house is, or is going to be, left empty. Answer their questions thoroughly and honestly, and don’t be afraid to shop around for a cheaper quote.

Your premium may well increase, so it’s a good idea to get in touch with us. We can get you an alternative quote with a specialist insurer for unoccupied homes. You can talk to our insurance experts Mon-Fri between 8.30am and 5.30pm on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051.

All Information in this post is accurate as of the date of publishing.