There’s no place like home, but it isn’t possible to be there all the time. Sometimes you have to leave it standing empty for lengthy periods.
You might want to go on a long holiday, for example. Or maybe you have to spend weeks in hospital, or live in alternative accommodation while, your home is repaired following damage.
If you are embarking on extensive building renovations, you may also decide to move out.
And if you’ve got a new job in a new town, but haven’t yet sold your house, it may stand empty until you find a buyer.
No occupant, no cover
If your property is unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days, your standard household insurance policy will no longer cover you.
In this case, you need to protect yourself with unoccupied home insurance.
If you suffer fire, flood, theft or damage during that time, your insurer is likely to refuse to pay out.
Your home is likely to be the most valuable possession you own, and you can’t afford to leave it unprotected.
Similar cover, shorter duration
An unoccupied home insurance policy gives you pretty much the same protection as standard buildings and contents insurance (although you should always check the small print).
The key difference is that the property doesn’t have to be occupied.
As your property is standing empty, it is more vulnerable to thieves, plus there’s no one on hand to deal with an emergency, such as a burst pipe or electrical fire.
This means any damage is likely to end up being more serious and costly to put right.
The insurance company is taking on a greater level of risk, and will quite reasonably want to charge you more as a result.
Plus it will also have relatively higher administration costs in setting up a short-term policy, and will want to pass this on to you.
If your home is going to be empty for longer than you expect, you can always take out another temporary policy. Some insurers may have a limit on how many you can take out in a year though.
It still pays to shop around
As with all types of cover, the protection you get will differ according to the policy and insurance company.
You can shop around for unoccupied home insurance, but don’t just compare quotes and plump for the cheapest: make sure you are getting the cover you really need.
You can typically reduce your premiums by taking out a larger excess, but make sure you can afford to pay this if you do have to make a claim.
Don’t stint on cover
As with standard household insurance, unoccupied cover is split into two parts.
Buildings insurance protects the bricks and mortar of your property, and permanent fixtures and fittings such as your bathroom facilities and fitted kitchen.
Contents insurance covers everything you would take with you if you move home. If you have moved out all your belongings, you may be able to do without contents cover.
Read the small print
You may be able to get cheaper premiums if you have installed security measures such as a burglar alarm, to deter thieves.
You must comply with all the policy small print, such as fitting the right door and window locks. Otherwise, if you do have to make a claim, your insurance company is within its rights to refuse to pay out.
A house is still a home, even if it stands empty. Make sure yours is properly protected.