Who needs unoccupied property Insurance?

Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts Article

20 July, 2015

Many people rely upon property insurance in the event their property is subject to damage such as flood, fire, theft and vandals. However, not everyone revisits their insurance policy when there are changes in their personal circumstances.

Even if your absence from the property is temporary i.e. you have gone travelling or had a stay in hospital, your property may be at risk as it could be deemed "unoccupied" by the insurance companies. Other circumstances may include selling or renovating a vacant property.

Most insurance companies do not provide cover if a property is left unoccupied for more than 30 or 60 consecutive days. If your property is unoccupied for this length of time you will require unoccupied property insurance.

Probate Properties are also affected whereby your loved one has passed away and the property is no longer occupied. It may well be that your loved one had property insurance in place but it is likely that the cover is no longer adequate.

Executors have a duty to protect and insure the assets of the deceased and they must therefore contact the insurance company to enquire as to whether they will continue cover until a Grant has been extracted. A Grant is a legal document that allows the Executor to sell or transfer the property. Insurance companies may continue cover up to this period but may include additional terms and conditions.

These may include the following:-

  • The property is required to be in a reasonable state of repair and adequately secure. You may be asked to alarm the property and ensure the windows and doors have suitable locks. If alarmed ensure it is activated otherwise you could invalidate your insurance.
  • Remove valuables, so as not to encourage theft or vandalism.
  • Drain the water system, to prevent any flooding.
  • Leave the heating on a low setting at all times in freezing conditions to help heat the pipes and avoid burst pipes.
  • Inspect the property on a regular basis.

Unoccupied property insurance does tend to be more expensive as there is a higher risk of theft and vandals. However, you are able to purchase short term cover of 3, 6, 9 or 12 months and may have the possibility to extend.

For peace of mind and protection for your property it is better to check your insurance policy in the event it will be unoccupied for any period of time and amend your insurance accordingly.

Patricia Prescott is Head of Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts and can be contacted on 01772 220240 or email Patricia Prescott.

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