More than 670,000 homes are empty in the UK. Nearly 250,000 of those homes have been empty for more than six months, which means they’re unlikely to be covered by standard home insurance policies.
So, if you find yourself with a vacant property, it’s worth considering unoccupied house insurance. These are specialist policies covering homes that are empty for longer than a standard policy would allow. In many cases, this means 30 days in a row. Here, we look at how much empty house insurance costs in more detail and ask if you really do need unoccupied insurance in the first place.
In this article we cover:
- How much does it cost to insure an empty house in the UK?
- What affects the cost of unoccupied home insurance?
- What can I do to lower the cost of unoccupied home insurance?
- Does unoccupied property insurance come with conditions?
- Do I need unoccupied house insurance?
- What does unoccupied house insurance cover?
- How to arrange empty house insurance?
Insurers will base premiums on your circumstances, so you must answer any questions as accurately as possible. If anything changes, it’s important to let them know. Otherwise, it could mean your policy becomes invalid, and your insurer can refuse to pay out if you make a claim.
Is unoccupied home insurance expensive?
This depends on the policy, the insurer, and the property. Insurers view an empty house as riskier; therefore, premiums will reflect this.
Who needs unoccupied house insurance?
Standard home insurance only provides cover while the property is lived in. If it’s empty for more than a certain number of days (usually 30 days), your policy may become invalid. Unoccupied home insurance provides cover for when the property is vacant.
It can also be useful if you’re buying temporary home insurance for the period between exchange and completion or if you need insurance during probate.
Some of the key factors that will affect the cost of unoccupied home insurance include:
Location has a big impact on premiums. Typically, you can expect to pay more in areas with higher-than-average crime rates.
Some homes are classed as non-standard because they’re made from materials such as stone, timber, cob, or thatch. Because these materials are relatively unusual in modern buildings and often need specialist labour, non-standard homes tend to cost more to insure as they’re expensive to repair or rebuild. If the property is listed, it will also cost more to insure.
The sum insured
For buildings insurance, the level of cover should be enough to rebuild the property from scratch, including associated costs such as debris removal and professional fees. The more this is, the higher the premium is likely to be.
Major renovation work can increase premiums because the risks are considered much greater. As a result, not all insurers will cover damage in unoccupied homes where building work is also taking place. In these situations, you should take out renovation insurance or check your builder has suitable contractors all risks / liability cover.
If you’ve made a recent claim (usually within the last five years), you can expect to pay more compared to policyholders who haven’t. This is because, from an insurance perspective, it is more likely that you’ll claim again.
Empty homes are at greater risk of vandalism which can lead to higher premiums. To work out the level of risk involved, insurers will need to understand how secure the empty house is. For example, has the building been boarded up, is there a security alarm, what type of locks are on doors and windows, or whether there’s any exterior lighting.
If there’s a back garden, insurers will also need to know how easy it is to access and whether it’s fenced securely. Insurers are also likely to ask how long the property has been empty, how long you think it might stay vacant, and how often it is visited.
Unfortunately, unoccupied properties come with significantly more risks compared to a home that’s lived in. With that in mind, discounts on empty house insurance are harder to come by and insurers won’t offer discounts for security features where they are a condition of cover being provided.
Most empty home insurance policies will come with conditions. Typically, you’ll be expected to have someone inspect the property regularly (your insurer will let you know how often this will need to be done) and keep a record of when this has been done. This is usually in addition to making sure the house is secured. Insurers often also ask that heating is kept on low during the winter months to avoid frozen pipes bursting.
If there’s a mortgage on the property, your lender might insist you have buildings insurance. If this is the case and the property is empty, you will need to take out unoccupied house insurance rather than home, holiday let, or landlord insurance. Otherwise, there’s no legal obligation to take out a policy.
But remember, if you don’t have insurance, you’d be responsible for covering any repair or rebuild costs. With that in mind, unoccupied home insurance can be a valuable safety net if something goes wrong.
Policies can be tailored to suit your circumstances, but you can expect to be covered for damage caused by:
- Escape of water
Unoccupied property insurance can also include liability and contents cover.
Our experience means we understand there’s no such thing as a standard risk. Plus, as an independent insurance broker, we’re able to offer a wide range of products so we can work with you to find the most suitable cover for your needs. To see how we can help you, call a member of our team on 01603 649650.