When faced with the difficult situation of what to do with an empty property it’s good to know there are ways to protect yourself from any unfortunate incidents. Unoccupied property insurance should be your first priority but to ensure you’re protected properly there are a few things you need to have done to satisfy your insurance company.
Why do I need unoccupied property insurance?
There are many different reasons you may need to take out unoccupied property insurance; you could be a landlord and your property has recently been vacated or you have not had a tenant in a while, you’ve bought a new property but will not be living in it due to ongoing renovation or preparation, a relative or someone close to you has passed away and they’ve left you their property in a will, you may also own or manage a company who have recently moved premises or closed down and you need to sell any remaining stock or the building which may take an extended period of time. If you find yourself in one of these situations or any other that leaves a property you own unattended or unused then it’s advisable to get some insurance to cover yourself if anything bad happens to the property.
How do I keep my property secure?
There will be many different terms and conditions you will need to adhere to in your unoccupied property insurance policy that you may not be aware of, ensuring your property is secure will be a big part of that. Try to board up and secure all windows and doors, this may incur a small cost but is worth getting done. If you have a burglar alarm system then keep it activated, this means that if any one tries to break in they could be deterred from theft but the alarm may also alert a neighbour or someone nearby to contact the police. The same reasons apply for the fire alarms, keep these activated and they can alert someone if a fire breaks out and the fire service can try to reduce any damage made to the property or belongings inside. If the property will be empty for a while it’s worth turning off and draining all water supplies so that no leaks or burst pipes occur whilst no one is there to alert you of any damage. Doing these little things will convince your insurer that you’ve tried to prevent any foreseeable damage or accidents as much as possible, you may be required to do these without knowing as this could be part of your policy’s small print.
Are there any extra precautions I should take?
If you’ve ensured your property is secure then there isn’t much more you can do to please your insurance company, however we would advise that you take regular trips to inspect your property just in case something’s happened or someone has broken in without you being made aware and make sure all flammable or combustible items are cordoned off or removed. If your property has CCTV then keep this turned on and if the property is large or has a lot of valuable items inside it then it may be advisable to get security on the premises if you can afford this cost.
Is there any legislation I need to be aware of?
From 1st September 2012, squatting in residential properties in England and Wales became a criminal offence with those subsequently convicted facing a maximum fine of £5,000 and up to 6 months in jail. If you have a commercial property you need to be aware that this legislation does not apply to you, this unfortunately means that a lot of commercial properties on closing down get a lot of squatters moving in. This is why we recommend fully securing your property and keeping CCTV running to alert you if anything out of the ordinary has happened.
What other precautions can I take?
The unoccupied property insurance hints above should cover most things that protect your insurance in the event of a payout. We always advise however calling up your insurance company when you take out your cover to let them know what you’ve done and see if there are any other precautions you should take. If in doubt get a copy of your policy details and read them thoroughly to find out if there are any hidden conditions so you can be sure.
Today’s guest post has been provided by Adrian Flux, a leading UK Unoccupied Property Insurance specialist.