Any property can become empty at any time under many different circumstances. When a property is unoccupied a standard house insurance policy will only usually provide cover for up to 30 days. This is when one must obtain an empty property insurance policy to keep their asset properly insured against risks such as fire, storm damage, theft etc.
There could be any number of reasons why a property may become vacant. The property could be a recent purchase by a landlord and is undergoing renovation prior to either letting it or selling it on. The property owner may have moved on and their current property has become empty until a new purchaser is found. The property owner could be erecting a new extension and has decided to move out of their property whilst the works are being carried out. What ever the reason it is still crucial to ensure that the empty property is sufficiently insured. If there is a mortgage outstanding on the building then the lender will insist on some form of insurance cover on the premises.
There are specialist insurance companies and brokers in the UK that specifically cater for the needs of a property owner with an empty building. Insurers and brokers that offer unoccupied property insurance quotes will normally have extensive knowledge on this subject and can help with risk management advice. Under an empty property insurance contract, the terms and conditions will differ from those of a standard home insurance policy. Get your advisor to go through with these in detail. There could be conditions on locks, how the water is left and how often the premises need to be visited etc. These conditions will vary from insurer to insurer.
Normally a property may be empty for 3 to 6 month but in certain scenarios it could be vacant for a year or even longer. If the property owner is certain that the property is not going to be empty for longer than 3 or 6 months then some insurers will offer a short term policy. A short term unoccupied property insurance policy can also be purchased online from some insurance companies. The property may be empty but as a property owner you still have duty and care to treat the premises as if there is no insurance cover in place.
A few basic rules in taking care to minimise the risks to your empty property include making sure all accessible windows and external doors are fitted with good locks, turning off the water supply and draining the system, installing an alarm system if budget allows it. Also visiting the property periodically to clear any post and to keep the lawn mowed. Give the property a look that says it not unoccupied. Install timer switches for the lights to turn on and off at random times.
Some insurers will also convert the empty property insurance policy to a landlords let property policy if you decide to rent the premises during the term of your policy. Or it could be converted to a standard home insurance policy if you move in yourself. Insuring a property that is vacant is essential and expert advice is crucial to ensure that the level of cover you obtain meets your exact needs.