Empty Property - Do you need Unoccupied Property Insurance?

Empty Property - Do you need Unoccupied Property Insurance?

Why do I need specialist unoccupied property Insurance?

Most standard buildings insurance policies will only provide cover for unoccupied or empty property for a period of either 30 or 60 days.  Beyond this, you will need to ask your Insurer to extend cover or arrange a specialist vacant property insurance policy. In the first instance, check your current policy document or speak to your Insurer advisor to understand existing requirements or conditions.

Who needs vacant property Cover?

Property can become vacant for a variety of reasons, and specialist unoccupied property insurance can adapt to all scenarios including:

  • Difficult finding new tenants
  • A tenancy dispute which prevents re-letting
  • Owner is abroad at a second property or working away
  • Vacant while the owner is hospitalised or in care
  • Property is awaiting probate
  • Vacant while awaiting renovation, refurbishment or planning permission for change of use
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What about unoccupied Commercial Property?

The depressed economic backdrop has caused a significant increase in occupied commercial premises, in 2012 the Croydon monitoring report highlighted that a staggering 52% of workplaces in the Croydon area were unoccupied.  While other areas of the UK may not show such significant unoccupancy levels, it is still a worrying trend.  The relaxation of planning laws for change of use is also driving vacancy levels while developers seek permission for commercial to residential conversion schemes.

Commercial property can often be isolated or more exposed to theft or vandalism. For this reason, the correct unoccupied property cover must be in place to safeguard your investment.

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What can I do to reduce risk and protect my property?

While its common sense to take additional precautions when your property becomes vacant, but we would recommend you make a checklist as it’s easy to forget something when your mind is preoccupied.

  • Turn-off stopcock to avoid water damage from burst pipes
  • Set the heating to remain ON, a very low setting will typically suffice (e.g. 10 degrees) to prevent frozen pipes, or  you may find that your system has a frost setting
  • Buy timers for lights to give the impression that the property is still occupied
  • Check all door and window locks to ensure that they are all applied and working
  • Remove any significant valuables from the property and from view
  • Visit the property regularly and remove mail (if possible try to arrange for bills to be sent electronically)
  • Put up a sign – No junk mail, free papers or leaflets.  Rest assured this will be ignored by some, but it cuts down some of the unwanted paper.
  • Consider obtaining a fireproof letterbox  or sealing the letterbox altogether
  • Keep the garden tidy and remove valuable items from outbuildings – if this is not possible ensure good quality locks are in place
  • Ask a neighbour to park a car on the drive if they have more than one vehicle

It is likely an unoccupied insurance policy will include some policy conditions or warranties which you need to adhere to. Make sure you fully understand their requirements and that you can comply or you could invalidate your cover in the event of a claim.

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Unoccupied Property and renovation

A common reason for vacancy in both commercial and residential properties is refurbishment, renovation or repairs.  A comprehensive unoccupied property policy can be extended to cover building works and materials.  If you are employing the services of a tradesperson, such as a builder or a plumber, you should make the appropriate checks in respect of their Public Liability Insurance and Contractors Insurance policies.  Your insurance advisor will be able to assist you with this process to ensure you have the correct cover in place.

What type of cover do I need for my empty property?

Many different levels of cover are required depending on your specific requirements and the type of property.  Basic cover begins at Fire, Lightning, Explosion and Aircraft (FLEA).

Typically, a more comprehensive unoccupied property insurance policy will include storm and flood, theft or attempted theft, escape of water, vandalism and property owners liability cover.

Insync Insurance offers several specialist unoccupied property insurance policies from the UK’s leading insurers.  Call 0330 1240370 for a free risk review and quotation or book an appointment at www.insyncinsurance.co.uk.

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