Unoccupied property insurance – your questions and answers

December 8, 2011

Landlords Insurance

Through our services, we are committed to clarifying areas of insurance that may, at times, appear to be a little complicated.  Unoccupied property insurance is one such area where questions may be regularly asked.

 

Why does unoccupied property require special insurance?

 

Insurers and indeed numbers of landlords, typically regard a property that is unoccupied as constituting a greater risk than one which has tenants in it.

 

There may be many reasons why that is the case including obvious scenarios such as burglars, vandals and minor problems going unnoticed and turning into major catastrophes (e.g. a minor leak becoming a flood over time if it is not noticed).

 

Insurers understand that a property may become unoccupied for a short period time due to routine circumstances – tenant changeovers and redecoration being two such examples.  That is why landlord house insurance typically contains a provision that allows a property to be unoccupied for a specified period time (perhaps 30-45 days) before further action is required.

 

If the period without occupation exceeds the number of days specified, you might need unoccupied property insurance if you are to ensure continuity of cover.

 

What if property is unoccupied over the specified days and it is not my fault?

 

Unfortunately, insurers may not make any special allowances in such situations.

 

For example, if your tenants were due to arrive but let you down at the last minute, your insurance cover may still lapse unless you have unoccupied property insurance in place.

 

Is this affected at all by whether or not the property is furnished/unfurnished?

 

Typically no, it is not.

 

However, some policies may apply slight variations on the insurance required in situations where your property is unfurnished and unoccupied over a very extended period.

 

What if my property is closed-up pending divorce or probate settlements etc?

 

This would not change your requirements for unoccupied property cover.

 

In fact, this condition applies typically to almost any property including owner-occupier properties where such situations may also arise due to extended holidays or business trips etc.

 

What if I occasionally stay overnight in the property during the period?

 

Different policies may have different approaches towards unusual circumstances.

 

As a matter of principle, your insurance may relate to what is called materiality – in other words, is your property really occupied or unoccupied?

 

In cases where the circumstances are complicated and open to interpretation, it may be advisable to seek advice in advance rather than simply to presume that you will not need unoccupied property insurance. We will be more than happy to help.

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