Leaving Your Home Empty Could Leave You Uninsured

If you’re going on a long term holiday, work away for long periods of time or have another reason to leave a property vacant for a long period of time, it’s worth considering how doing these things can affect your home insurance – or more importantly, how they can completely invalidate it…

It’s not a particularly well known fact that nearly all home insurance policies will lapse if your home is left unoccupied for a long period of time – funnily enough, many providers keep quiet about things like this – which is probably somewhat of a worry for the half a million Brits who live abroad for half of the year, or the 300,000 people who head off on a gap year or career break every year. However, people going on a long holiday should also double check the small print on their policies, as many providers will allow for as little as 30 days of vacancy before they stop covering you, and in the best case scenario you will have 60 days before your insurance documents are worthless.

What’s interesting is that a more expensive policy doesn’t necessarily mean more cover: In sample home insurance quotes taken to cover a £150,000 Manchester (M20) Semi, with £35,000 of contents insurance and 5 years no claims discount, the second cheapest quote (At £138.18) provided 60 days of protection, whereas The most expensive (at £332.53) was almost 2.5 times more expensive, and offered half the amount of cover.

If you plan on going away for longer than two weeks, there are a number of things you should do to protect your home. First on your list should be contacting your insurer, as they will let you know of any precautions you should be aware of - although be aware that some may charge you an increased rate for the time you are away, although this varies from case to case. You should also cancel any milk or papers you have delivered, as these are key signs that the house is empty. Furthermore, if you keep an emergency key anywhere, give that to someone you trust and definitely don’t leave it within “hooking” reach of the letterbox. A light on a timer is also a good idea, but ideally having someone visit the home for a few hours a day is ultimately a better idea. Not only can they open and close curtains as needed, but they can also move post away from your front door, as well as feeding animals and watering plants for you – Or if you’ve got the right person to house sit for you, maybe even indulge in that noisy or obtrusive DIY job you need to get done but don’t want to live with.

The key thing to remember is to speak to your insurer before you leave – after all, you can make all the preparations in the world, but these are wasted if you’ve not done something else that the provider wants in the first place – and get someone who can keep tabs on the house, as not only could they save you extra costs in insurance premiums, they could also prevent having to make a claim.

Chris Spann
moneysupermarket.com Financial Group