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Is Your Empty House Insured?

Empty house insurance

Published with permission from Vero Insurance New Zealand.

It is generally considered safer when residential properties have someone residing in them. It’s less likely someone will break in, they’ll be flood damage, storm damage, a fire or animal damage as steps can be taken to minimise or avoid this when someone lives on the property. If damage does occur, someone living in the house will spot it and be able to clean it up quickly. This is why most insurance policies specify residential properties must be occupied.

There are, however, some reasons your property might be empty for an extended period of time:

  • Your house is for sale, and you’ve moved out
  • Your rental property is between tenants
  • You’re renovating your house
  • It’s a holiday home
  • You’re travelling
  • You’re in hospital receiving medical treatment

If your property is empty for any reason, it’s important to understand any occupancy requirements in your insurance policy, and what to do to maintain your cover.

5 tips for keeping an empty house covered

1. Check for unoccupied property clauses

Have a look at your policy and what the definition of ‘unoccupied’ is. For example, your home may be considered unoccupied if no authorised person has slept overnight in the home within the last 60 days.

2. Understand when your home is considered ‘unoccupied’

Your cover may depend on whether the property is normally empty, or whether you normally live there but have been away for a while. For example, if you normally live in your home, you may get some extra time – you could be covered if your home is vacant for up to 90 days, provided you are away for travel or medical reasons.

3. Cover for unoccupied properties

You’ll need to notify your insurance company for a holiday home, or if you’re renovating, you’re between tenants at your rental, and the property will be vacant for a period of 60 days or more.

They will ask you to explain why the home is empty and if they agree, there may apply additional conditions.

4. Conditions for unoccupied homes

If your home is considered ‘unoccupied’ you might have to meet additional conditions to maintain your cover.  Generally you’ll be asked to do things to keep the house secure – like locking your doors and windows and turning off the water mains – but there could be more specific terms you need to meet such as mowing the lawns tidy and keeping the mailbox empty. Whatever you can do to keep your house tidy and make it appear lived in, will help protect it. In addition you could install timed lighting or ask a neighbour to park their car in your driveway.

5. Additional excesses

Some policies will include a higher excess if the house is unoccupied at the time of damage or loss, or the insurer might impose a larger excess. When purchasing or comparing cover, it’s a good idea to find out what your excess is in different circumstances.

A home is one of your biggest assets, and it pays to make sure it’s protected. If you want to chat to someone about the best house insurance policy for your circumstances, get in touch with Brian from Over Fifty Insurance. Brian has a wealth of knowledge and access to a wide range a policies. He takes the time to make sure you have the best cover for your situation.