Vacant Property – Essential Advice
Recently published figures show that today in England alone, there are more than 635,000 empty homes, 216,000 of them unoccupied for more than six months. This commentary is designed to demonstrate what can be done to make sure property owners manage the risks associated with their empty dwellings.
Vacant homes are obvious targets for criminal activities ranging from burglary (where the property is fully or partly furnished) to metal theft, vandalism or arson (whether it’s furnished or not). Escapes of water can run unchecked. Faulty wiring can cause fires. Lack of buildings maintenance can lead to water ingress and storm damage, so it is imperative that as an owner of an empty property you take the right steps to secure and protect your properties.
The right insurance protection
We regularly quote for properties that have been unoccupied for between one and five years and we've covered some that have been empty for up to 20 years.
At Cass Stephens, we know each client is an individual so we tailor-make the protection they need. Where unoccupied homes are concerned, subject to Insurers’ normal underwriting procedures, we'll provide you with premiums for varying levels of cover.
Level 1: Fire, Lightning, Explosion, Earthquake, Subsidence (unless there are ongoing structural works).
Level 2: All the Level 1 covers plus; Storm, Flood, Weight of snow, Collision by vehicle or animal, Damage by trees, telegraph poles and/or lamp-posts.
Level 3: All the Level 1 & 2 covers plus; Escape of water, Theft and attempted theft, Riot, violent disorder and acting maliciously.
In addition, where the property is unoccupied because it's undergoing extensive renovation, extension or repair we can also provide a quotation which includes cover for the existing structure, building works, property owner's liability and home contents in one seamless policy, whether the property is the proposers home or where it will be let or used as a holiday home once the works are completed.
Owner risk management
As well as taking out the right insurance there are some key things that the owners of unoccupied homes should be doing to help to manage risk and protect your properties from loss or damage. These include:
Installing insurer approved security equipment and base station monitored intruder and fire alarms on a separate circuit.
Shutting down electrical systems.
Ensuring plumbing is properly maintained and either draining the system (especially during the winter months) or at least leaving the heating on at regular intervals (unless the power has been switched off).
Removing combustible material, such as junk mail, on a regular basis also a must.
It’s also a good idea to provide trusted neighbours with contact details so they can be contacted quickly if there is a problem.
Above all, it is important to keep your insurance provider informed of the occupancy (or otherwise) of any property – whether this is residential or commercial. Failure to do so could invalidate your cover, and lead to a claim not being met – a costly oversight.
For impartial and independent advice on this or any other Property Insurance matters, please contact us at Cass Stephens.
Cass Stephens Insurances Ltd
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