What is unoccupied house insurance?

Unoccupied house insurance is cover that can be taken out to insure a home that will be left empty for longer than a standard policy would allow. Usually, home insurance provides cover for up to 30 or 60 days. After that, you will need unoccupied house insurance to protect against theft, water damage and other claims.

What are the risks of leaving a property unoccupied?

While things can go wrong in any home, occupied or not, the likelihood of needing to make a claim is greater in an empty property. This is simply because no one is around to spot issues as they happen.

Risks to empty homes include:

  • Burst pipes and flooding (water can cause severe damage to the fabric of a building)
  • Fire
  • Vandalism and theft
  • Trespassers
  • Fly tipping
  • Neglect

Empty commercial properties are subject to many of the same risks, but they will require a policy that is more tailored to their needs. Commercial property insurance can provide cover for unpaid rent, conveyancing costs and public liability.

How long can you leave a house empty under standard home insurance?

Many home insurance policies will allow you to leave your home empty for up to 30 or 60 days without needing to buy separate insurance. But you should verify the exact number of days with your insurer.

You must let your insurer know if your property will be empty for longer than your policy allows. Your claim may be rejected if you fail to do so, and you could be liable for costly repair bills and/or legal fees.

If you know that your home will be empty for longer than your home insurance policy allows, you can purchase short term unoccupied house insurance for between three and 12 months. This can be extended if your property is empty for longer.

Our guide to home insurance looks at what you should take into consideration to help you find the right insurance policy for your needs.

Why might a property be unoccupied?

A property could be empty for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • The owner has passed away
  • The house is a holiday home
  • The house is undergoing renovations
  • The property is rented and there is a gap between tenants
  • The house is sold, and the new owner is yet to move in
  • The house is for sale and the owners have already moved into a new property
  • The owner is going on an extended holiday or is travelling

Where an owner has passed away and the property is subject to probate, it is usually the responsibility of the executors to purchase unoccupied house insurance. It’s worth checking what your responsibilities are with your solicitor.

In some cases, empty house insurance may not be the best option for you. Holiday homes used mostly in summer can be empty for long periods in winter, but holiday home insurance can protect your sanctuary all year round.

In the case of rented properties where there may be large gaps between tenants, landlord insurance may be better suited to your needs.

And, if your property is empty because it is being renovated, it may be worth considering renovation insurance. This policy can cover occupied and unoccupied homes even if the work has already started.

Does it cost more to insure an unoccupied house?

An empty property will have fewer people coming in to notice and fix problems. Therefore, there is a greater risk of unchecked damage compared to a home that is occupied. Due to this increased risk, the cost of insuring an unoccupied house can be more expensive than general home insurance.

The cost of insuring an empty house can vary depending on the property’s:

  • Value (a high value property will likely cost more to insure)
  • Location (a property that is isolated or in an area of high crime may cost more to insure)
  • Maintenance (good maintenance may bring your policy premium down)
  • Security system (taking steps to ensure the security of your home can reduce the cost of insurance)
  • Level of cover (the higher the level of cover, the more the premium will likely cost)

As a Wesleyan member, you could save 20% on new insurance policies as part of our exclusive member benefits.

What does unoccupied home insurance cover?

Dependent on the level of cover you chose, a typical policy brokered through Wesleyan Financial Services will cover:

  • Natural disasters (damage caused by storms, flooding, or fire)
  • Burst pipes and leaks
  • Theft (including damage caused by a break in)
  • Vandalism
  • Property owners’ liability insurance (to cover damage caused by falling roof tiles or an unstable garden wall. This damage can occur to neighbouring properties and cars. If damage occurs, you may be held responsible).

Remember, all policies are different, so make sure you know exactly what you will be insured for when you purchase cover.

How to make a claim

If you need to make a claim against your unoccupied house insurance policy, you will need to call your insurer as soon as you identify an issue.

Your insurer will ask for evidence of any damage, so it’s a good idea to take photos of the problem as soon as you become aware of it. If it’s a claim for theft or vandalism, your insurer will also ask for a crime number from the Police.

Always keep a record of any communication between you and your insurer. If you have taken out insurance via Wesleyan Financial Services, you can contact us here.

Ready to get insured?

Unoccupied home insurance

Want to protect an empty property? Receive a quote for unoccupied home insurance from our panel of trusted insurers.

Holiday home insurance

Protect your haven with our hand-picked holiday home insurance deals. Receive cover for buildings and contents, alternative accommodation and more.