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Unoccupied Properties

Uninhabited homes and empty commercial properties........keeping them safe and sound

Unoccupied property insurance is something which may become more and more commonplace as properties come onto the market and remain empty and unsold or un-let. Homes and commercial properties can be uninhabited for a variety of reasons, but whatever the cause, a property which is empty DOES require insurance. However, you should never rely on insurance which was arranged when the property was occupied because, now the property has become unoccupied, it represents a different risk to the insurer. Indeed, they may withdraw cover in the knowledge the property is no longer occupied.

To simply not inform an insurer of such a change of risk is a definite no-no for, should you have a need to make a subsequent claim, they will soon realise the property is unoccupied and the probability is there would be no payout.

What sorts of circumstances require unoccupied property insurance?

> The previous owner may have died and the property is now up for sale so that the proceeds can be added to the estate. It is then the responsibility of the executors to ensure that there is unoccupied property insurance on the empty house
> The building may just have been purchased by a new landlord who has not yet found a tenant for the house and it is empty – in this case the property may become occupied after a few weeks – or remain vacant for a much longer period. There is a requirement for unoccupied property insurance until the new tenant moves in
> The property may be unoccupied between tenancies when the current insurance expires and the current home insurance company does not wish to insure the property
> The property may be in need of renovation before becoming suitable for a tenant to move in – in this case the unoccupied property insurers may need details of the type of renovation and the estimated period before quoting
> The property may have been purchased with the intent that the owner will move in at a future date – after repairs have been carried out, or the owner has sold his existing home
Is unoccupied property insurance difficult to obtain?

Sometimes, it can be difficult to find your way around the various insurances available. Talk to a professional such as Westhill Insurance Services, they can advise you on points such as:

> Direct companies do not like offering insurances for unoccupied properties because they perceive the risk to be substantially greater
> The unoccupied property may be let in the future on a commercial basis – many house insurance companies do not wish to insure properties let out, and so will not cover the unoccupied property
> There are greater risks attached to an unoccupied property, such as:
> There is not usually any one on site if damage happens and so it may not be spotted for some time, often resulting in even more damage occurring
> Unoccupied property is often vandalised
> Squatters may move in

How can you obtain the best possible rates for unoccupied property insurance?

You can undertake a few steps which will make the insurance companies look more favourably on you, such as

> Arrange for a regular inspection of the empty property, either directly or by a trusted agent
> Turn off all central heating in the property or ensure that it is on permanently, depending on the time of year: this is to reduce the risk of burst pipes
> Seal off letter boxes and board up windows to reduce the risk of vandalism
> Consider installing a CCTV system

Take good advice and find a flexible policy which gives you exactly the cover you require. For example, make sure you have malicious damage cover, and check to see if your policy includes 'wet perils' – such as storm, tempest and escape of water. Unoccupied property insurance is not a straight-forward policy so seek professional advice. Talk to Westhill Insurance Services and explain the type of property you have and any particular worries concerning this: they will give you pragmatic and grounded advice, ensuring that you have peace of mind whilst your property remains empty.

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 10th November, 2010