Unoccupied House Insurance

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Extensive Cover Against Fire, Subsidence, Water Damage, Vandalism And More

Flexible Policy Length - 3, 6 & 12 Months

Public Liability Cover Included In Every Policy

Cover Starting from £112





"I was looking to renew my building and contents insurance. With the main home and a second home it is not that straight forward as we sometimes let out the second home. Emerald were swift and to the point when I spoke to them. I couldn't believe that they managed to save me approximately 25% on my policy! Amazing. Everything was so straight forward and I recommend them very highly." - Rex Chalmers, Property Developer

Full Details (Policies pre-Nov 2020)


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Frequently Asked Questions (Policies pre-Nov 2020)

Most definitely. We will need to take some details from you. Given that holiday or weekend homes can cover many different situations, we prefer to have our specialist underwriting team speak with you so that we can properly assess the situation.  For example, you may have a property that you rent out part of the year to third parties, or one that you live in over the winter. Each property that we cover has its own individual requirements, and it’s important that these are reflected, and protected, under an Emerald home policy.

Call our specialist underwriting team on 0330 113 7109 within office hours or leave a message for a call back and we will be glad to help.

Many insurers only offer cover for very standard homes. At Emerald Life, we try to be more helpful than that. So for instance, many insurers will decline cover for buildings with:

  • Flat rooves
  • High-level listings (eg Grade I or Grade II*)
  • Very old properties
  • A history of subsidence/underpinning
  • Other unusual construction – living rooves, timber frames etc

We may have to offer some additional qualifications (for example, regular checks on flat rooves, or the wiring in very old houses) but these are designed to make sure your property stays in a good condition.

We want to be able to cover your home or property, whatever it is, so call our specialist underwriting team on 0330 113 7109 within office hours or leave a message for a call back and we will be glad to help.

There are many reasons that a property might be unoccupied for any long period of time. For example:

  • Major renovations
  • Holiday homes
  • Second homes
  • Probate sales
  • Buy-to-let properties between tenants
  • Secondment or postings abroad for work

If you have a property that is going to be empty for a period longer than an average family holiday, then you may need specialist insurance for your case. There may be things that you don’t need to pay for (contents in an empty house), but there may be some extra obligations (checking for leaks periodically, switching off mains supplies etc). If you have just a standard home and contents policy, your insurer may not pay out.

We can cover any period of time, and roll over cover in the case that, for example, probate is delayed or a property has not sold.

Call our specialist underwriting team on 0330 113 7109 within office hours or leave a message for a call back and we will be glad to help.

We appreciate that for many people taking out insurance is a time-consuming business, and the same goes if you have to change something during the term of an insurance policy.

Emerald’s personal service ensures that we can change our cover if your circumstances change. Sometimes the premium may change but in many cases it may not. As an Emerald customer, please call us on 0330 113 7109 within office hours or leave a message for a call back and we will help however we can.

There are many reasons why a property you own might be unoccupied for a period. Where a property is unoccupied, your existing insurance - either normal home cover, or landlord insurance – may not give you cover, so you should always look at unoccupied home insurance if your property is going to be empty for more than 30 days.

Common instances where a property or home may be empty are:

  • It’s a buy-to-let and you have a break between tenants
  • You are moving out because you are having renovations done to the property
  • You have moved to a new house and this property is still on the market
  • A loved one has died or moved to a care facility, and the property is part of probate or is up for sale
  • It’s that holiday of a lifetime and you plan to be travelling the world for more than 30 days

There are three levels of unoccupied house insurance cover, and obviously the lower the premium the more basic the cover. So those levels are:

  • Level 1 - covers damage by fire, lightning, explosion, earthquake and aircraft
  • Level 2 - covers everything in level 1 but also damage from storm, flood, snow, collision, breakage of aerials or satellite dishes, escape of oil, falling trees or posts, and subsidence
  • Level 3 - covers everything in level 2 but also escape of water, theft, vandalism and malicious damage

Make sure that your policy also has public liability cover so if, for example, something falls from your roof and hits someone or something, you would be covered.

For many of the reasons that the property is unoccupied, it may not be necessary to buy an annual policy. For that reason, Emerald also offers short-term home insurance cover for fixed periods of three and six months. Note however that these are fixed terms and cannot be extended or cancelled. For example, if you bought short-term cover for three months for a house for sale and needed to extend cover, you would need to buy another short-term policy for a fixed period, or else buy a 12-month policy. Although you pay more up-front for a 12-month policy, it does have the advantage that it can be cancelled at any time, and you will get a pro-rata refund provided you have not made a claim.

Because the property is unoccupied, often the cover is more expensive than regular home insurance. The actual premium will depend on the level of unoccupied buildings cover or unoccupied contents cover that you want. Valuables and portable items (such as bicycles) are not usually covered under an unoccupied home policy, as your insurer will expect you to take them away when you leave the house.

The insurer will also look at your postcode, so premium will be higher if you are near water or a flood risk area, or if you are in a higher crime area.

You can often reduce the premium for your unoccupied home cover by increasing your excess (the amount that you would not get back in the event of any claim) and that can be a popular option.

Just because you are buying unoccupied property insurance, that doesn’t mean you can just disappear and expect full cover. An insurer will expect you to take reasonable care even while you are away. What does that mean in practice?

  • You must maintain security, so windows and doors must be locked and any alarms switched on. It is different in the case of renovations as you will have builders in the house so see our section on renovations
  • You must have someone visit the property every 14 days. That does not need to be you, but someone will ned to check that the property has not been vandalised and there are no leaks etc.
  • If your property has been unoccupied for more than two or three years then an insurer may require additional protections such as secure fencing or boarded-up windows because of the increased risk of squatters

Where you have left a house because you are having renovations done, the cover levels remain the same but there are other exclusions or qualifications as, rather than the property standing empty, you have a third party demolishing/rebuilding part of it. It is vital to comply with these extra endorsements as otherwise you may invalidate your unoccupied property insurance.

Some examples are:

  • You will need to agree the scope of works with the insurer as there is some work that is not covered – for example, total demolition, pile driving or digging basements. There are very specialised insurers for these cases.
  • Any builder will need to have proper insurance for the works to be carried out, and the insurer will want to see and confirm the builder’s insurance. Any reputable builder should have this so it is not a big issue.
  • Cover usually excludes loose building materials – which should be covered by the builder under their cover. Also cover is limited while the unoccupied property is not secure, so you will need to use a builder that will make the unoccupied property secure every night.
  • There are extra inspection obligations if the builder is doing ‘hot works’ ie using blowtorches or similar, in order to limit fire risk.

Cover for renovations to unoccupied properties can be tricky, so it is a good idea to speak directly to the insurer in these cases so that you can be sure of exactly what cover you need.

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