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Unoccupied home insurance

Howden provide specialist unoccupied property insurance for homes that will be empty for an extended period of time - such as during renovation, sale or probate.

What's covered with our unoccupied house insurance?

Bullet Point

Unoccupied buildings insurance

Howden can provide buildings cover whilst your property is unoccupied, including cover against a wide variety of risks.

Bullet Point

Property owners’ liability cover

Property owners’ liability cover to protect you against compensation claims raised by third parties that have been injured as a result of the property not being maintained.

Bullet Point

Theft and malicious damage cover

Protect your buildings and contents against theft, attempted theft and malicious damage - check the details of your quote to find out what’s covered.

Need standard home insurance?

If you don't have specialist requirements, take a look at Howden's range of standard home insurance policies.

What you need to know about unoccupied home insurance

Finding the right unoccupied home insurance for your property can be a long-winded and complicated process. The longer your home is unoccupied, the chance of theft increases, which is why home insurance for empty properties is important for keeping covered. We’ve taken the time to answer some frequently asked questions so you have all the information you need.

What is unoccupied home insurance?

Unoccupied home insurance will protect your home if you leave it for a longer period of time than your standard policy covers you for. Depending on your insurer, your standard cover will usually insure your empty home for up to 30-60 days. However, this will vary depending on your insurer, so it’s really important to check your policy details. Unoccupied home insurance is also referred to as unoccupied property insurance, vacant home insurance and empty property insurance to name a few terms.

Unoccupied properties, unfortunately, are a slightly higher risk than occupied ones for a number of reasons. For starters, there’s no-one at the property which means that small issues could quickly become big problems if they go unnoticed. For example, a leaky roof or faulty boiler. Unoccupied properties are also particularly susceptible to thieves and vandals due to being empty, meaning that not all home insurance providers are willing (or able) to cover this risk.

Luckily, home insurance for unoccupied properties exists to make sure your house is covered even when you’re not staying there.

What does unoccupied home insurance cover?

Unoccupied property insurance will usually protect your property against fire, flood, subsidence and a number of other risks so you can feel confident that your property is protected whilst you’re not there.

Will standard home insurance cover my unoccupied property?

Home and landlord insurance policies will usually only cover between 30 and 90 days unoccupancy, which means that, after this time, you’ll need to either sell the property or find more suitable insurance cover. There are lots of different types of specialist home insurance available that will provide extended covers for certain risks, so it’s important to make sure your property is properly protected.

At what point do I need to let my home insurance provider know my property is unoccupied?

It’s important that you contact your home or landlord insurance provider as soon as possible if you know that your property is going to be unoccupied long-term, as not doing so could invalidate your policy in the event of a claim.

Your existing home insurance provider may be able to provide full cover while the property is unoccupied, but if not you may need to seek out cover elsewhere. Check the terms of your home insurance policy to understand how long your property can be unoccupied without additional terms being imposed, such as cover restrictions or visitation requirements.

What isn’t covered by unoccupied house insurance?

There will sometimes be risks that aren't covered. For example:

Damage or theft following unforced entry

If your windows or doors are left unlocked or unsecured which results in theft or damage.


While you'll be able to secure buildings insurance for empty properties while renovation works are being carried out, you may not be able to get cover for the renovation works themselves.

Find out more about renovation home insurance.

Who needs unoccupied home insurance?

Anyone who is planning to leave their property empty for longer than the time stated on their standard home insurance policy and would like to remain covered could consider unoccupied insurance. For example, if you’re going away and leaving your house empty for six months, or insuring a house after the death of a loved one, you’ll probably need insurance cover for an unoccupied house.

Why might a property become unoccupied?

There are many reasons why a property might become unoccupied. Sometimes it’s a sudden change in circumstances, meaning you have to find cover quickly to make sure the property is fully protected. Other times, it’s a long term decision, meaning you have plenty of time to plan and research the best property insurance for your vacant home. Situations where your property might become unoccupied include:

  • The property is pending renovation
  • The property is being sold and you’ve already moved out
  • You’ve just purchased the property but you’re taking your time moving in
  • It’s a holiday home that you only visit occasionally
  • There’s a gap between tenants
  • The property is going through probate
  • You or the homeowner has been taken into long-term medical care
  • You’ve going travelling but don’t want to rent your property out while you’re away

Who will insure an unoccupied house

Howden proudly provide cover for properties that are left unoccupied. We cater for lots of different circumstances like:

-    Probate 

-    Empty properties due to impending sale

-    Empty properties due to impending letting

How much should I cover my unoccupied property for?

The amount of cover you require for your unoccupied property will depend on the rebuild value of your property, which is the amount it would cost to rebuild your property from the ground up following a total loss.

Most insurers are unable to provide advice on the rebuild value of a property. However if you’re unsure, the Association of British Insurers provides an online rebuild costs calculator.

For some property types, such as listed buildings, you may need a formal survey to ensure the rebuild cost is accurate.

What does unoccupied mean for home insurance?

If your property is empty for a prolonged period of time – usually over 30 days – then it will be considered unoccupied by insurers. This can either be due to a gap in tenants, a property going through probate or simply because the house is pending sale or the owner hasn’t decided what to do with it.

A property is not considered unoccupied if it will only be empty short-term - for example, your tenant goes on holiday or spends weekends elsewhere. Check with your insurance provider to find out how long your property can be empty before it is considered unoccupied.

Once your property is unoccupied, your insurance provider may impose terms and conditions to your policy to ensure the property is kept safe whilst it’s empty. For example, your insurer may request that you visit the property weekly to pick up any mail and check that the property is secure. They may also request that you turn off any utilities to lower the risk of fire or flood.

Why do I need to tell my insurance provider if my home will be unoccupied?

When your house is empty for a long period of time, it poses a higher risk. For this reason, most insurers will allow between 30 and 60 days of your house being empty before you need to consider house insurance for an unoccupied property. This number will vary by insurer, so make sure you check your policy before leaving your home empty. 

What happens if I don't tell my insurance provider?

If you fail to tell your insurer, or fail to make other vacant home insurance arrangements, this could mean you aren’t covered should you need to make a claim. This is the main reason people opt for specific home insurance for unoccupied houses (also known as empty house insurance, unoccupied building insurance or vacant property insurance).

What about properties that are unoccupied because they’re undergoing renovation?

If your property will be unoccupied for more than 30 or 60 days while it’s undergoing renovation works, then you may require a specialist home renovation insurance policy.

You may also require additional cover if works are extensive, or if expensive equipment and materials will be kept at the property during building works.

How much does unoccupied house insurance cost?

As with most types of insurance, it’s really difficult to provide a cost example because your final quote will be based on your exact requirements – and no two homes are the same! 

The average cost of vacant home insurance will vary between providers, depending on a number of factors. These include:

•    Your personal details, such as your occupancy

•    The postcode and history of the property

•    The value of the property

•    The level of cover you require for your empty property 

Is unoccupied house insurance more expensive?

Sometimes, but not always.

The reason unoccupied property insurance can sometimes be more expensive is because properties that don’t have someone visiting them every day can be considered a higher risk by insurers – this is also why some home insurance providers aren’t able to offer cover for empty properties.

For example, if there were to be a water leak or break-in at an unoccupied property, it could be a few days or even weeks before the damage is noticed and mitigated, potentially increasing the cost of any resulting claim.

For this reason, it will usually be a requirement of your empty house insurance that you visit the property regularly to check for signs of damage, and collect any post to prevent the risk of a fire. You should also try to keep the property well maintained while it is unoccupied.

However, there are also ways to make your unoccupied house insurance cheaper – you can find out more about this below.

Tips for getting cheaper unnoccupied property insurance 

There are some easy ways to keep your costs down and secure cheap unoccupied property insurance. Here are some tips:

•    Keep the property well-maintained

Looking after the property and checking for signs of damage will help to mitigate the risk of a claim. This in turn will save you money on potential excess payments, as well as protecting any no claims bonus you may have accrued.

•    Review your excess

Increasing your voluntary excess could help to decrease the cost of your overall premium, although some excesses will be set by the insurer (such as flood or subsidence excesses).

•    Add some extra security

Having some additional security features, such as burglar alarms and strong door locks, could also help to decrease the cost of your unoccupied home insurance.

•    Don’t over-insure

When it comes to getting home insurance for an empty property, make sure your rebuild value is accurate before getting a quote - you can find out more about calculating your rebuild value here. You could also remove any high value items such as expensive jewellery, as this can also affect your insurance premium. 

•    Look after your pipes in the winter

Making sure your heating is controlled in the winter, or turning off utilities and draining the water should prevent pipes bursting as the temperature drops.

What is the difference between vacant and unoccupied properties?

If a property is unoccupied, this means there are no occupants or tenants living at the property, but there are still contents or furnishings inside.

If a property is vacant, this means that it is completely empty, with no occupants or contents.

 You'll be able to find cover for both unoccupied and vacant properties.

If the property has contents, you’ll just need to let your insurer know the total value of any furniture and furnishings when you get a quote.

Is there a difference between empty home insurance and buildings insurance for an unoccupied property?

Unoccupied home insurance is often referred under lots of different terms. For example, buildings insurance for an unoccupied house, vacant property insurance and unoccupied property insurance. Regardless of which term is used, these terms essentially mean the same thing – insuring your property when it’s empty for a long period of time.

When you come to getting your actual quote, then you’ll get into the details of your cover which will be based around your exact needs. 

Can I cover a property that’s in probate?

Yes - if your property will be unoccupied for more than 30 days while it’s going through probate, unoccupied home insurance can provide cover for this.

What is probate house insurance?

Usually properties will be left unoccupied during probate, which can increase the risk of theft, malicious damage or maintenance issues at your property (such as faulty pipes).

Therefore, if the property will be unoccupied for more than 30 days (in most circumstances) while it’s going through probate, you may need to arrange specialist unoccupied property insurance for this.

This insurance policy will be provided in the names of the executors, so when probate is finalised you will just need to contact your insurance provider to update the details of the policy, if you still require cover.

What if I forget to tell my insurer my property in unoccupied?

It’s important that you contact your home or landlord insurance provider as soon as possible if you know that your property is going to be unoccupied long-term. Not doing so could invalidate your policy in the event of a claim.

Most property insurance policies will allow for up to 30 days unoccupancy – any longer than this, and you may require more specialist cover that your existing insurer cannot provide.

Can you insure an empty house?

Yes you can! It’s important to get insurance for an empty house to make sure you’re covered should anything happen whilst you’re not there. Empty property insurance will provide you with the level of insurance you need to manage the risk proposed to your property whilst it’s unoccupied.

Can I leave my mortgaged property empty?

Yes, you can leave your mortgaged property empty. But you’ll need to check the maximum time you can leave your property unoccupied with your insurance provider. If it’s longer than the 30-60 days stated on your policy, you can opt for temporary house insurance for an empty property to make sure you’re covered.

Tips for leaving a house unoccupied

If you’ll be leaving your property empty for an extended period of time, you’ve probably been busy trying to find the best unoccupied house insurance in the UK. However, there are some additional things that you can do to help secure your property:

-    Install a security system

If possible, install a security/camera system in your property for added protection. These systems can come with cameras, motion detectors and temperature sensors. Some even include monitoring by security companies for added reassurance. A system like this should not only deter unwanted visitors, but also keep an eye on what’s going on inside your house whilst you’re not there.

-    Invest in some self-timing lights

If you can’t arrange to visit the property every few days, investing in some self-timing lights could help keep up appearances and make it seem as though the house is occupied. 

-    Utilise smart technology

App-controlled devices can do all sorts these days. From switching on lights, to closing blinds and seeing who’s at the door. Making use of any technology you have in place can be a great way to deter crime.

-    Unoccupied property insurance

Having specific insurance in place just in case anything unexpected does happen whilst you’re not around can help make sure you’re not left out of pocket and are always prepared. Just take some time to make sure you’re getting the best unoccupied house insurance deal.

How to insure an unoccupied house

Follow these three simple steps to get an unoccupied property insurance quote. 

1) Contact Howden's specialist team today. 

2) Tell them about your unoccupied property so they can find you the most competitive price. 

3) Let them know when you want to go ahead and they'll get your unoccupied home insurance policy set up.

Not looking for empty building insurance? These are just some of the different non-standard home insurance policies available with Howden:

Interested in unoccupied home insurance?

You might also be interested in...

Home renovation insurance

Flooded home insurance

Flat roof home insurance

Listed property insurance

Barn conversion insurance

Holiday home insurance


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