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Understanding unoccupied property cover

Many property owners have to manage unoccupied properties at some point, and whilst most policies cover for unoccupancy, the policy wording can lead to confusion and misunderstanding which can result in declined claims and leave owners out of pocket.

Obligations of the insured

A fundamental principle of insurance is an obligation placed on the insured to take every precaution to aid loss mitigation and reduce the risk of damage. In property insurance, the obligation of loss mitigation extends to property owners, whether let to tenants or owner-occupied. A typical owner-occupied or landlord policy restricts unoccupancy to a period of 30-60 consecutive days (depending on the policy provider). The reason for unoccupancy can range from renovations to holidays, in any situation unoccupied property insurance will need to cover the premises during this time. Each insurance provider will have different obligations placed on the insured, some will offer premium savings if the insured is willing to undertake further duties to reduce losses.

Breakdown of likely obligations:

  • Maintenance and repair

    Keeping the property in a good state of repair is a common condition in property insurance, this becomes ever apparent when the property is left unoccupied. A small unattended repair can still lead to extensive damage if left for a long period of time.

  • Water Damage:

    If you have a policy which covers for escape of water (usually an additional extension for unoccupied property) then you may have continuing conditions to ensure the cover stays in force. Specific duties vary and can included setting the heating system to frost setting, this ensure the property never falls below a certain temperature.

  • Inspection:

    Regular inspection can mitigate a wide variety of losses, even a simple visit from a family member can reduce the effects of leaky taps etc. Some providers may include this as an obligation if left unoccupied over a specific length of time.

  • Good housekeeping:

    The best for of loss prevention for unoccupied properties is to avoid advertising the fact that no-one is home. Avoiding the build up of delivered items on the front door step, to setting timers to turn the lights on at night are all simple but effective measures to ensure you are not putting yourself at unnecessary risk.

The principle of placing obligations on the policy holder is to promote a minimum standard of risk control and ultimately reduce the frequency and severity of losses. You can visit our property owner’s page to find out more on our bespoke policies, alternatively you can call us to discuss the differing obligations included from our providers.

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