How to adequately insure your unoccupied property

By Cathy Luzmore

Properties can be become unoccupied for many reasons, such as the death of an elderly relative, because you have a second home abroad, because you have inherited a property, or because you’ve moved into a new house and not yet managed to sell the old one.

Standard home insurance policies will not cover your property if it is left unoccupied for more than 30 days. There are however specialist types of home insurance which will cover an unoccupied property, and they fall into two main categories.

The cheapest and most basic type of buildings insurance for an unoccupied property is often referred to as providing FLEE cover. FLEE stands for Fire Lightning Explosion and Earthquake. This means ‘it does what it says on the tin’ – it covers for in the event that your empty property is damaged by fire or lightning, or if there is an explosion or earthquake. Occasionally a home insurance provider might include an extra A on the end of FLEEA and will also cover your property against damage by aircraft!

Usually no other type of eventuality is included in such an empty property policy – so you are not covered if the property is burgled, if a pipe burst and floods the property, or if a vehicle crashes into the side of the property.

So how do you get help insuring an unoccupied property, which is, after all, a very valuable asset?

The good news is that there is a more comprehensive type of buildings insurance policy for empty properties which is available. This type of policy can also often be used to insure holiday homes.

For properties which are currently unoccupied, the insurer will want to know how long has the property been unoccupied for, how long have you owned the property, and why is it unoccupied? However if you meet their criteria, the unoccupied property insurance policy will cover most of the standard things that you would find in a normal home insurance policy, including up to £20,000 of contents.

The insurers will usually require that someone will be going to check on the property on a regular basis. Unfortunately though, if there is building work going on, or if you have bought the property to renovate it and sell it on, most insurers would only offer the minimal FLEE cover mentioned above.