At Caleb Roberts, we define an unoccupied ‘private home’ as:
- A home without sufficient furniture for day to day living purposes;
- A home sufficiently furnished for day to day living purposes, but has not been lived in by you or an authorised person for more than 60 days.
When a policy is classed as unoccupied, the cover on houses is automatically restricted. Meaning covers such as theft, malicious damage and burst pipes are excluded unless you have a special agreement with Caleb Roberts to continue these covers.
Residential farm properties may be unoccupied because they are on the market, empty between tenants or the owner has gone into hospital long-term. For whatever reason, it’s important to inform Caleb Roberts about any unoccupied properties as this may influence the level of cover under your Farm Combined insurance policy.
If a building is in a poor state, then you must discuss covers with your Caleb Roberts point of contact as poor condition may invalidate the insurance.
Due to their nature, unoccupied properties are more susceptible to damage and theft by trespassers such as;
- The stripping of copper cabling and water services.
- Removal of lead and architectural features.
- Water ingress.
- Burst pipes or leaks.
- Malicious damage.
Questions may vary depending on the individual circumstances, but we will want to know many of the following questions.
- How long the property has been, and will be, unoccupied for?
- What the future plans are for the property?
- Location of the property in relation to the main risk address or to other occupied premises
- What condition the property is in?
- What regular checks, if any, are carried out on the property?
- What security features are in place?
- Is the electricity, gas and water turned off at the mains, is the water system drained or central heating left on a constant temperature?
These questions help us to paint a picture, enabling the underwriters to determine the level of risk associated with the property, and underwrite it accordingly.
We often see claims for water damage by burst pipes. Particularly common in winter when the pipes freeze and the water tank hasn’t been drained. In this instance, your policy will exclude this cover unless you have agreed special terms to continue cover, however a condition might be to drain the water system or leave the heating on at a constant temperature in the property. In cases where maintenance of the property is not carried out, the property often becomes neglected which is why it’s important to understand the risks and how they can be mitigated.
Mitigating the risk
Here are some suggestions on how to protect your unoccupied property:
- Secure the property – external locks.
- Isolate and drain down all water services.
- Isolate electrical and gas supplies.
- Ensure keys are strictly controlled and kept locked away.
- Perform regular checks on the property.
What is it going to cost you?
Empty properties are always more expensive to insure simply because they are more vulnerable and more likely to be damaged than a property that’s lived in.
Costs to insure these will vary depending on how well the property is protected from risk.
PLEASE REMEMBER – If a property becomes unoccupied during the period of insurance its important you should notify Caleb Roberts as soon as you can on 0330 175 8779