Planning a six-month trip around the world or moving out to refurbish your home? You'll need to let your home insurer know if you're leaving your property unoccupied for a long time.
There are many legitimate reasons why homes stand empty for long periods of time. Maybe you're waiting for a sale to go through, a parent has moved to a care home or you've taken a job overseas for a while.
But with 200,000 homes empty for more than six months in 2015, that's an awful lot of unoccupied properties at risk of fire, flood and theft.
Most standard home insurance policies won't provide cover if you leave a property unoccupied for more than 30 days in a row. Or they'll require you to leave the heating on if you leave it unoccupied for several days during the winter.
Some insurers, like us, will cover you if you're away for 60 days in a row, but to be on the safe side, you should check your home insurance details if your property is unoccupied for more than a month.
Simon is a contractor who works on wind turbine projects. His job takes him around the world for weeks at a time. However, during his last project he was asked to stay on for four months as the project was proving particularly challenging. Now Simon loves a challenge, so he accepted immediately.
It was only later when he got chatting to a mate about the project that the subject of his house came up. His friend reminded him to check the small print on his home insurance and sure enough, he found he wouldn't be covered if he left the house unoccupied for six months.
Fortunately, Simon made the call to the insurers to let them know he was going to be away. They offered to cover the unoccupancy for a small additional fee.
When you go away for months at a time, insurance companies believe the risk of damage to your property increases.
If you're away from your home and leaving it unoccupied for many months, or if like Simon you're away for long periods of time regularly, you may want to think about additional security.
Although prevention is better than cure, there's no substitute for making sure you have the right insurance cover in place in case you need to make a claim.
Before you leave your home unoccupied, make a call to your current home insurer to let them know.
Some insurers will provide full temporary cover for an additional cost or offer reduced cover for the same cost. If your usual home insurer can't help, there are specialist companies who offer long-term unoccupied homes insurance.
If you want unoccupied insurance cover for a property that isn't your main home then you may also need specialist insurance. For example, landlord's insurance is quite different to standard home insurance. Second homes and properties used as holiday rentals may also not be fully covered by your usual home insurance.
Before you leave your home unoccupied make a call to your home insurers to let them know.
Making a claim for damage to your property or theft whilst you're away needn't be tricky. Firstly, call your insurer in the usual way. Have your policy number and a copy of your insurance documents to hand - remember to pack them when you leave home. We also provide a useful checklist that tells you what to do if you've been burgled.
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