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

Contents Cover for Unoccupied Policies

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"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

Unoccupied Home Insurance Full Details (Policies POST-Nov 2020)

IMPORTANT NOTE: this link is for an EXAMPLE policy only. Your actual policy may differ from this, so please look in your My Account for the details that are correct for you, or email customerservice@emeraldlife.co.uk for a copy of your documents.

Frequently Asked Questions (Policies pre-Nov 2020)

Yes, unoccupied house insurance is designed to take account of the additional risk of a house that is not occupied. In fact, you need unoccupied house insurance if your home is left unoccupied and you still want to protect your home from events like burst pipes, theft and malicious damage while it is vacant.

However, your standard home insurance is unlikely to cover an unoccupied property. Some insurers may offer to extend a policy out of goodwill after a sale or death that leaves the property empty, but generally standard home insurance requires someone to be resident full time at the property.

With unoccupied house insurance an empty property can stay protected. An empty unoccupied property does still create some obligations which will be explained in your policy documentation. For instance, you are likely to have to inspect the property on a regular basis and an insurance provider may have conditions about keeping certain utilities like water and gas switched on or off with an empty property.

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
  • Landlord between tenants

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 empty properties), 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 insurance policy, your insurance provider may not pay out if you make any claims.

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

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 circumstances why a property you own might be unoccupied for a period. Where a property is unoccupied, your existing insurance - either normal home insurance, 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 for an extended period
  • You are moving out because you are having renovation 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 insurance, 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 insurance 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 insurance 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 insurance insurance policy for a fixed period, or else buy a 12-month insurance policy.

Although you pay more up-front for a 12-month insurance 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 left empty, often the cover is more expensive than regular home insurance when a house is going to be unoccupied. The actual premium you get from a quote will depend on the level of unoccupied buildings insurance 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 insurance provider will expect you to take them away when you leave the house.

The insurance provider will also look at your postcode to provide a quote, 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 as part of your quote.

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 from your vacant property. 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 or suffered malicious damage and there are no leaks etc.
  • If your property has been unoccupied for more than two or three years then an insurance provider 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 of policies remain the same but there are other exclusions or qualifications as, rather than the property being left empty, you have a third party demolishing/rebuilding part of it.

It is vital to comply with these extra endorsements in policies 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.
  • Insurance usually excludes loose building materials – which should be covered by the builder under their cover. Also insurance 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.

Insurance 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 insurance you need.

Check your policy documents to see how long your property can remain unoccupied. 30 consecutive days is quite common in policies and so most annual holidays are fine.

However, if you expect to be away for a long period of time and your home is going to be empty for longer, or the resident of the property has moved or died then you need to tell your buildings insurance provider straight away that the property is long term unoccupied.

A lot of insurers won't provide empty home insurance and so you should give yourself plenty of time to protect your home and find alternative policies when you know a home is going to be left vacant.

If you fail to tell your insurer that an empty house is going to be unoccupied then you could break the terms of your existing policy and so be unable to make a claim.

We do! Empty property insurance is not the kind of standard policies you'll see advertised by big brands on television. Unoccupied properties pose a higher risk of attempted theft and malicious damage as well as bigger costs if a leak goes unnoticed from burst pipes.

These could all be expensive if you had to make a claim for them and so if a home is unoccupied it needs specialist unoccupied house insurance.

You can find these specialists by searching for empty property insurance and this is often a much more manual process than just going through a comparison site as these insurance providers tend to be quite small.

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