Does your house insurance leave you unprotected?
May 18, 2012
Thousands of British homes may be uninsured, according to the charity Empty Homes. That’s not because the owners don’t have insurance – but rather that their policy is inadequate.
It is thought that around 700,000 residential properties in England alone are empty. That may be because they are second homes, houses awaiting sale, or houses being managed by the executor of a deceased owner. The problem is that many standard insurance policies – both for the building and any contents – specify that the cover is only valid if a property is left unoccupied for a maximum of 30 consecutive days. Beyond that you may be uninsured should the property be burgled, spring a leak or burn down.
So if you own a property that might be left vacant for more than 30 consecutive days, the first thing to do is check your policy to see how long the empty period lasts.
Then what? The obvious place to start looking for extended cover is your existing insurer. However, it may not be the cheapest option. Specialist insurers may be able to give you a better price. In some cases, says Kara Gammell in The Daily Telegraph, the difference can be significant – for example, extending a policy on a three-bedroom house in Cardiff came in twice as expensive as buying a separate policy.
Another risk to watch for is an insurer agreeing to extend your policy but then excluding certain claims, such as vandalism, break-ins and, in some cases, even water damage. As for where to start shopping around, insurers such as Endsleigh, Towergate, British Insurance and Hometrack offer policies for unoccupied properties that can be bought for periods ranging from three months to a year or more.