Do you need unoccupied property insurance?

July 26, 2012

Landlords Insurance

Having gone to the trouble of protecting your buy to let property with appropriate insurance cover, it may be unfortunate if you were then to be caught out by having a claim turned down because your cover had lapsed due to your property being unoccupied.

The reasons that this could happen are relatively simple.

From an insurance point of view the risks that a property faces increase if it is empty and a standard buy to let insurance policy is based on the assumption that your property has tenants living in it.

Or course, cover is maintained during times when tenants may be on holiday etc.

These increased risks may include:

  • a minor issue like a leaking pipe or a broken window allowing rain in, becoming a major  problem and causing greater damage if left unnoticed and unfixed over time;
  • vandals, thieves and squatters may targeting vacant property.

A different type of cover known as unoccupied property insurance is needed to protect against these risks but only if the period your property is vacant extends beyond a certain period of time.

Standard buy to let policies may specify different thresholds for when this type of cover is required. Some may stipulate 30 days, others 45 and others still may allow up to 90 days providing the property has been vacant since the inception of the policy.

The reasons your property is unoccupied are not relevant to this requirement so you may wish to look out for cheap unoccupied property insurance if, for example:

  • your tenants have moved out and you are having trouble finding new ones;
  • you are in the middle of a renovation project on your property but are experiencing delays that  are going to take you over your policy’s unoccupied limit;
  • there are legal reasons which are preventing you from letting your property (divorce, probate etc) that cannot be quickly resolved.

You may find that the terms and conditions of unoccupied property insurance require that you take an active role in helping to keep your unoccupied property that bit safer.

This could involve having to visit the property regularly to check it over, to promptly carry out any required maintenance and to keep a log of these visits and any work carried out.

That might involve ensuring that the garden (if your property has one) is kept tidy and free of rubbish. A letterbox overflowing with circulars may be a sure sign of an unoccupied property, so should be emptied regularly and so on.

 

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