Find out everything you need to know about keeping your house insured if it's left empty for any length of time
There are 635,000 empty homes in England and over 200,000 of those have been empty for more than six months, according to latest government statistics.
Whether these properties are empty because their owners are waiting to sell them, because they're second homes or because the house is in probate, the issue of insuring them can be confusing.
To help you avoid leaving your empty home unprotected, we've put together this handy guide to tell you everything you need to know about unoccupied house insurance.
What does insuring an unoccupied house protect me against?
- Damage caused by nature - floods and storms
- Burst pipes
As buildings insurance is often a condition of your mortgage, it's important to know what cover you need in place for different situations.
You may find your regular home insurance covers you, or you might need to arrange unoccupied property insurance.
Why is unoccupied property insurance more expensive than home insurance?
A house sat empty can attract unwanted attention from vandals and squatters, making the property a much higher risk to insure than one which has people in and out of it all the time.
When there are residents in the house it's much safer and less of a risk for insurers as there's someone to limit damage from accidents and prevent vandals from striking.
For these reasons, unoccupied property insurance can often be more costly.
What is short term insurance?
Some insurers enforce a 30-day rule where insurers stop covering a property left unoccupied for more than 30 consecutive days.
If you're planning on going travelling or working away from home and won't be returning until later than your insurer's unoccupancy limit, it's important to inform your insurer to avoid any nasty surprises should the worst happen.
Some companies may reduce the number of days a house can be unoccupied during the winter, so it's always important to check the policy wording. With Admiral, customers must leave the heating on if the home is unoccupied for more than five days in a row.
Some companies allow you to take out cover over three, six or nine months rather than the usual 12, so you'd be able to cover your home while selling it or while waiting for new tenants to move in.
Admiral does not offer short term cover options.
Making sure a home is insured is the job of the landlord not the tenant, which means if you're a landlord then it's up to you to keep buildings insurance in place whether someone lives in the house or not.
Buildings insurance covers the structure of your property and any outbuildings but not the contents inside. So if the home you usually rent out is furnished, unless you have contents insurance, those furnishings won't be covered.
Landlord insurance often includes cover for fixtures and fittings belonging to the landlord and there may be the option to add cover for furnishings belonging to the landlord.
How to keep your home safe
You should always make sure your home is secure and has good quality locks with the British Standard Kitemark fitted; this is especially true if your home is left empty for a prolonged period of time.
If you know the neighbours then let them know the home will be empty so they'll be aware of anything suspicious, keep curtains and blinds open as closed blinds will draw more attention during the day.
Our Home Security Advice has all the information you need to keep your house safe while you're away.
Insuring your empty home with Admiral
If you're already insured with Admiral and your house becomes unoccupied but remains furnished during the policy term, the length of time you can leave it unoccupied depends on the tier of cover you have with us.
If you have the Admiral Home Insurance tier your home can be left for up to 30 days, with the Gold tier that's extended to 45 days and the Platinum tier up to 60 days. You won't be able to extend the limit on Admiral or Admiral Gold cover but you can increase Platinum to 120 days.
When you set up an Admiral Home Insurance policy you will be asked how many days in a row the house is left empty, if this changes during the policy term make sure to let us know. You can find all of of our contact information in the Contact Us section of the website.
Our Customer Services team can advise you of any conditions that apply and whether we are able to continue insuring your house. You will also need to inform us if the house becomes unfurnished at any point.
You must be residing in the house within two weeks of the policy inception.