There are any number of reasons why property you own – or in which you have an interest – may be temporarily empty and unoccupied. For example:
- you might be moving home, have already moved into your new house, whilst your previous home stands empty awaiting its sale;
- you might be completely renovating or remodelling your home or let property you own and it remains temporarily uninhabitable whilst works are in progress;
- you might have bought a previously derelict or abandoned property, with a view to renovating it ready for you or your family to move in, for onward sale or for rental;
- your job might have taken you away from home – or even abroad – for several months;
- you might be enjoying an extended holiday – visiting far flung friends and relatives or taking a world cruise, for example; or
- you might be the executor of a property which is subject to probate and currently stands empty, but you have a duty to ensure that it remains adequately insured.
Why is specialist empty property insurance required?
Specialist empty property insurance (or unoccupied property insurance, as it is also called), is necessary because of the heightened risks facing a property which is vacant, compared to one that is in more or less continuous use.
To take just two examples of this heightened risk:
- when there is no one on hand to report or raise the alarm about an otherwise fairly routine maintenance issue, this may quickly turn into a major incident – a dripping tap, for example, might develop into a full-blown flood; and
- empty buildings are known to attract the unwelcome attention of all manner of intruders – from vandals and squatters to arsonists, reports the British Security Industry Association (BSIA).
These risks are recognised by the insurance industry, of course, so that a typical insurer is likely to curtail or completely remove cover once a building has been empty and unoccupied for more than a month or so (the precise interval varies from one insurer to another, depending on their particular policies).
In the absence of continued cover – essential for the protection of your property – therefore, specialist, standalone empty property insurance needs to take its place.
What does empty property insurance cover?
This specialist form of insurance provides as much cover as you may need to keep the property and its contents protected.
Typically, it also includes vital property owners’ liability insurance, to safeguard you and provide indemnity against claims that may be made by any third party – a visitor, neighbour or member of the public – who suffers an injury or has their own property damaged through some contact with your empty premises. The protection even extends to individuals who may have entered your empty property illegally – since you have the same duty of care to prevent their injury too.
Unoccupied or empty property insurance also has sufficient flexibility to allow extensions to the cover provided, if the building is left empty for longer than originally intended.
Unlike many other types of general insurance, empty property insurance may be bought for periods of less than a full 12 months – if your need is for cover that lasts only three or six months, for example, policies are typically available for such periods.