Insurance checklist for your unoccupied property

If you own or are responsible for an unoccupied property, whether it be a commercial or residential building, insurance may often be overlooked as a priority. However, without the appropriate insurance cover, unoccupied property owners could face legal or costly complications if something does go wrong.

The following steps should be taken when considering what type of insurance cover will help keep your unoccupied property protected.

  • A good place to start when considering unoccupied property insurance, is to ask yourself ‘Do I actually need insurance’? If you have a residential or commercial property that is vacant for more than 30 consecutive days it is worth considering taking out an unoccupied property insurance policy (for properties vacant for less than 30 days, without insurance, will still be invalid for cover). An unoccupied property could be an easy target for thieves. What’s more, if the property is damaged by fire or water while there is no one living there, the damage might not be covered under a standard home insurance policy. So, if you know your property is going to be empty for some time, it is worth investing in unoccupied property insurance.
  • If you currently have an insurance policy, be sure to check if the cover is designed for an unoccupied property. Some standard home insurance may not cover a second property or a property that has been vacant for longer than 30 or 60 consecutive days. Specialist unoccupied property insurance from Guardcover, can offer flexible cover that gives you flexibility with policy terms of 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months available.
  • Be sure to check what restrictions or terms and conditions are in your insurance policy. Some insurers put in place stringent terms (“Unoccupied Building Conditions”) which must be enforced before they will provide cover. For example, draining down the water systems, switching off the utilities, weekly documented visits, installing certain locks, sealing up letterboxes, etc. Failure to comply could lead to a claim being turned down.
  • It is also advisable to check what exactly your unoccupied property policy covers you for. At Guardcover we can provide a wide range of cover for your unoccupied property, including:
    • Accidental and malicious damage
    • Fire, storms, and floods
    • Breakage of glass
    • Impact from falling trees
    • Theft and attempted theft
    • Escape of water or oil (including water from a plumbing or heating system)
    • Subsidence
    • Terms and conditions apply. You can access our policy wording here
  • Additional insurance cover that unoccupied property owners might not have considered are:
    • Property owner’s liability
    • Fly-tipping
    • Changing the locks following a theft or break-in
    • Employer’s liability
  • Lastly, to help prevent theft, break-ins or environmental damage to your unoccupied property, consider taking the following precautions:
    • Install CCTV cameras and a security system.
    • Install flood lights in blind spots around your unoccupied property.
    • Ensure all access points such as windows and doors are secured using British standard locks.
    • Visit the property regularly or ask a trusted friend or neighbour to keep an eye on it for you.
    • Keep the garden around the unoccupied property tidy and remove any rubbish or debris.
    • Monitor the condition of the roof to ensure it is water and weather tight.
    • Turn off the utilities such as water, gas and electric if the property is going to be unoccupied for a long period of time. This will help prevent the risk of flooding or electrical fires.
    • Make the property look as lived in and well maintained as possible, as an empty looking property is more likely to be broken into.

Before leaving a property vacant for weeks, months or even longer, getting organised and preparing your insurance cover may help protect you in the long run. Unoccupied properties are more prone to unwanted aggravation when there is nobody around to monitor and manage the situation. By investing with specialist unoccupied property insurance from Guardcover, property owners are more prepared if the worst should ever happen.