House Insurance For Empty Property

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Photo of a derelict building with house insurance for empty property
If you buy a property at auction, having house insurance for empty property is critical if the property is unoccupied. Photo © Roger Templeman (cc-by-sa/2.0)

UK House Insurance For Empty Property

If you buy a property at auction in the UK, there is a chance the property may be empty for a period of time, especially if you plan to renovate the property with a view to re-selling.

An unoccupied property is more at risk of damage from the elements, vandalism and flood damage from broken pipes. House insurance for empty property can be taken out for the short term and each insurance company will have a set of requirements that must be adhered to for the cover to continue.

The cost of house insurance for an empty property you own will depend upon several factors, including the value of the property and where it is located.

This article is directed at properties which are completely empty or unoccupied, such as a property you may have purchased at a UK auction. It is not for people who require insurance for holiday homes or those who require landlord insurance for rented properties which may be temporarily empty.

Photo of flats currently empty after being sold
If you purchase a flat at auction, or even a rural property, it is likely to remain empty for a period of time. Photo © Des Blenkinsopp (cc-by-sa/2.0)

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What Is Categorised As An Empty Property?

Any property that is left empty is going to be a higher risk for insurance companies and if a property has no one in residence it is considered by them to be unoccupied. This does not apply to properties that are unoccupied for a limited time e.g. for a holiday or if there is a short gap between tenants.

Many insurance companies invoke the 30 day rule which means that if the property is empty for more than 30 days it is classed as unoccupied. Whether the property is furnished or unfurnished does not factor into the rules.

Your insurer will have their own rules and the guideline rule may be 30, 60 or even 90 days.

Photo of an empty house which was sold at a property auction.
One of the best things to do if you buy a property which is likely to be empty for a while is speak to your current insurance provider. Photo © Brian Robert Marshall (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Why Do I Need Empty Property Insurance?

The chances of vandalism, theft or damage are far greater when a property is left unoccupied for a period of time.

There is also the possibility of structural damage due to burst pipes. Although not as common as in the past there is also the chance of squatters moving into your empty house and the legal fees to remove them can be steep.

If there is no insurance you could be subject to a claim from a member of the public if they are hurt due to neglect of the property e.g. a falling roof tile.

Finally, If your property has an outstanding mortgage it is even more important to make sure that insurance cover is intact or you could be breaking the terms and conditions of the mortgage contract.

Picture of two empty houses vulnerable to theft
Houses and other properies which are empty are vulnerable to theft of roof tiles, lead, fixtures and fittings and other materials. Photo © M J Richardson (cc-by-sa/2.0)

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Does leaving A Property Empty Invalidate The House Insurance?

You must advise your insurer is your property is going to be empty for longer than the specified period on the current policy. Failure to do so will invalidate the existing house insurance cover.

The cost of meeting a claim yourself could run into thousands of pounds. There is also the possibility of litigation by a third party if the property is unsafe.

Unoccupied Property Insurance

House insurance for empty property should cover as many scenarios as possible. You should look for a policy that covers the usual natural disasters of fire, flood and storm damage. Cover should also be included for burst pipes, theft, vandalism and public liability.

What is not covered?

There are some things that are not included in standard house insurance for empty property.

These include damage caused by someone working on renovations to your house and any major problem caused by building work on house extensions or large scale repairs. Contractors are expected to have their own insurance cover.

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Who Needs House Insurance For Empty Property?

Many homeowners find themselves in the situation where their property may be empty for a period of time. If you have just purchased a property but are not moving in immediately you will still need insurance cover.

A landlord who has a property that is empty between tenants also needs cover, but this is usually encompassed by comprehensive landlord insurance cover.

Holiday homes that are not a main residence require their own specialist insurance cover for holiday homes.

Photo of an empty rural property
Rural properties which are empty are particularly vulnerable to theft, fire, flood and damage. Photo © Graham Robson (cc-by-sa/2.0)

How Much Should I Insure My Empty Property For?

A professional assessor will be able to advise you about the level of cover you need for an empty property. Cover for rebuilding costs as well as solicitor and surveyor costs should be considered a priority.

If there is any furniture inside the unoccupied property, you will need cover for replacement items. Cover may be restricted to a percentage of the cost to allow for wear and tear. Shop around and find the best quote possible for house insurance for empty property.

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Is It Expensive To Buy Insurance For Empty Property?

House insurance for empty property can be more expensive than normal house cover due to the higher risk. An insurer will take into account the location of the property as well as the house value.

Security is important so if you have burglar alarms fitted and high security locks the premiums may be lower. Keeping up maintenance on the property is another factor than can make insurance premiums higher.

Picture of flats pruchased which need insurance cover
If you have purchased a property at auction, such as a house or flat and financed the purchase, insurance will be a requirement. Photo © Gerald England (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Short Term House Insurance For Empty Property

Insurance for empty property can cover both buildings and contents and is usually for a shorter period of time than a standard policy. Insurance companies will normally offer policies for between 3 months and 12 months.

If your property remains empty for a longer period than you are expecting you can normally ask for an extension to the policy. At all times it is important to keep your insurance company up to date with the facts.

If you fail to notify an insurer that the property remains unoccupied beyond the specified cover period your policy may become invalid.

Making A Claim On Empty Property Insurance

Claiming on unoccupied property insurance is the same as any other policy. There may be an excess involved so if the damage is small it might be worthwhile paying for it yourself. Other terms may apply and if you have a no claim bonus this could be lost for a small claim. This may also result in an increase in future premiums.

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