Why Its Difficult To Compare Unoccupied Home Insurance

You might think it is easy to compare Unoccupied Home Insurance, but unfortunately, often it isn’t.

The insurance market considers empty property insurance as ‘non-standard home insurance’ because of the higher risk of claims empty property poses. Not every insurer wants to cover this; where they do, there isn’t a consistent policy and cover structure.

Empty homes pose a higher risk of claims from burst pipes, vandalism, fire, theft, etc. So, to manage their profitability, insurers try to limit their losses by applying more restrictive cover and policy conditions than what you would find on your standard home insurance policy.

So, whereas buyers of standard home insurance policies are used to easy-to-understand cover levels such as an option to insure buildings and contents with or without accidental damage, unoccupied home insurance buyers are faced with varying cover levels and policy conditions they aren’t used to like property inspections, switching off utilities or draining water systems.

Many online providers don’t flag these differences upfront.  You must read and understand the cover in every quote to understand what you must do to comply with the policy conditions.

Plus, the market is smaller than that of standard home insurance, which means there is less choice, and the right cover is often hard to find.

This post will walk you through the challenges of comparing and finding the right cover.

Alternatively, you could get a quote from Insuristic in a couple of minutes online.  We have explained everything you need to know upfront, with cover that won’t catch you out, prices that won’t break the bank and an in-house claims service to help you should the worst happen.

To make this easier for our clients, we have developed two specialist policies:

  1. Probate House Insurance; to cover properties that are unoccupied whist going through probate and
  2. Unoccupied Home Insurance cover properties that are unoccupied for any other reason

Comparison Sites Don’t Compare Unoccupied Home Insurance.

Most people are used to visiting a comparison site to check prices on their car, home and travel insurance.

However, because of the reasons I have already explained, it is almost impossible to compare unoccupied home insurance due to variations between providers.  Many people don’t realise that comparison sites aren’t insurance brokers.

Comparison Sites are effectively affiliate businesses that capture your information and pass it virtually to their panel of insurance brokers and insurers so you can insure directly. Whilst their convenience can make getting standard insurance policies easier, they are an extra mouth to feed in the chain.

This is why you will never find Insuristic on a comparison site.

If you look at the leading comparison sites, my view is backed up by their lack of ability to compare unoccupied home insurance cover:

Go Compare does not offer an online quote process for unoccupied home insurance; instead, it refers you to several insurance partners who may or may not have a specialist policy.

Money Supermarket says it compares unoccupied home insurance, but it has partnered with one provider called InsureMy, which offers a standard home insurance quote journey.

Confused: They don’t compare unoccupied insurance policies; they suggest their standard home insurance might be willing to provide some cover whilst the property is unoccupied.  However, this may or may not be the right coverage, given that the providers may not be specialist non-standard home insurance providers.

Uswitch – standard home insurance only, and no mention of unoccupied home insurance on their site.

None of this is easy. Therefore, it may be worth approaching specialists like Insuristic first. We have done the thinking for you with a quality product designed specifically for insuring empty property.

Varying cover levels

The most common cover provided by standard and non-standard home insurance providers is referred to as FLEEA Insurance, which covers damage caused by Fire, lightning, Earthquake, Explosion and Aircraft.

This is a pretty basic cover and may not be appropriate for many people.

Suppose you are legally responsible for insuring property in your care, such as arranging insurance as an executor or insuring an empty property while the owner is in care via a power of attorney. In either scenario, you should be careful with this level of cover.

If there is an uninsured loss, such as theft or a burst pipe, you could be liable for the loss as you could have arranged insurance for it.

Insuristic will provide this cover if it is appropriate for your needs and is our Bronze level of cover.

The challenge you will find online is that many cheaper insurance policies are on this basis.  But others might mix it up and include some (or all) cover for:

  • Contents in the property.
  • Malicious Damage.
  • Impact by vehicles.
  • Escape of Water, i.e. burst pipes.

The differing cover and excesses insurers charge in the event of a loss make it difficult for a non-insurance person to compare the cover on a like-for-like basis.

Policy conditions most people aren’t used to

But it’s not just the cover level that varies; so do the unique requirements of each insurer to manage the risks your empty property faces.

Most people have never insured an empty property before, so they may not be familiar with these requirements, which are often conditions of the policy.

Warning: Non-compliance with policy conditions can mean your claim is declined or reduced.

Here are some examples of common policy conditions to look out for:

  • Property Inspections—Most policies require the property to be inspected every seven days and a written record created for each inspection. We have written a blog post explaining unoccupied home inspections, which might be useful.
  • Water system drain downs– If the insurer is covering the escape of water, they may insist that the water systems be drained.
  • Keeping the heating on in winter months – if you aren’t draining the water systems some insurers might provide escape of water cover, but only if you keep the heating on during the winter months.
  • Turning off utilities – Most insurers will require the gas and electricity to be switched off to minimise their risk of fire and explosion. They will usually allow electricity to remain on if it is required to maintain a burglar alarm or heating system.

In addition, most insurers want you to keep the property presentable with a lived-in appearance to minimise the risk of theft and break-ins so they may contain the following conditions in the policy:

  • Keeping the property well maintained is usually a general condition of the policy. Insurers will require you to take all reasonable steps to prevent loss, damage, or an accident and keep the property in good repair.
  • Removing Mail – a mail pile-up clearly indicates to burglars and squatters that the property is empty.
  • Keeping the garden tidy – again, a tidy garden gives the appearance that the property is lived in, and helps to reduce the risk of theft and break-ins.

How to Compare Unoccupied Home Insurance

Before looking for insurance, be clear about the cover you would like.

For inspiration, why not review the insurance cover that Insuristic provides as an example?  You should find the cover you need by reviewing our Bronze, Silver and Gold cover.

Then, standardise your enquiries with insurance providers so that you ask each for this specific level of cover. This will help simplify your comparison of the cover provided by each provider.

Review the cover provided in each quote against the cover you asked for and identify any gaps.

Lastly, it is hard to quantify exactly how long you might need the cover for.  If you are selling a house or the property is in probate, knowing exactly how long to insure for is ‘a finger-in-the-air’ job.

Check if the provider charges fees for early cancellation or for merely issuing the policy, as this can increase the cost.

How are claims handled?

Lastly, you will only know how good a policy is when you need to make a claim.

Before you buy a policy, review the provider’s website to see how easy it is to make a claim.  Is the information easy to find?  Do they explain the process?  Would it be easy to do?

For example, if you look at the Insuristic website, every product page clearly explains how to make a claim. For example, check out our property claims page.

How Insuristic can help

If all of this sounds like too much work, Insuristic can simplify the process.

Our policies are designed specifically for empty homes via our probate house insurance policy for property in probate or, if the property is empty for any other reason, our unoccupied home insurance policy.

Here are some reasons to insure with Insuristic:

  • Tailored Policies: designed specifically for insuring empty homes, with three levels of cover.
  • Easy to understand: Our questions are relevant to your situation and clearly explained on our website and when you get a quote.
  • Quick to buy: You can usually get a quote and buy a policy in less than two minutes.
  • Flexible Cover Durations: You can buy short-term unoccupied home insurance (3, 6, or 9 months) or an annual policy. If you insure short-term, you will still receive a renewal notice.
  • Inspectionsare easy to comply with, and you do not need to create a written report. On every visit, take one picture of the front of the house and one of a room inside the property with your mobile phone. Keep the photos to provide to our claims team if you need to make a claim.
  • No Fees: We do not charge any fees to issue or cancel your policy.
  • Early Cancellations: If you need to cancel the policy early, you will receive a pro-rata refund for any unused cover, provided you haven’t made a claim.

Claims: In the event of a claim, our in-house claims team at SJL Insurance will provide advice and assistance at every stage of your claim, assist with loss adjusters and help you negotiate the best possible settlement with your insurer.

So, if you want the peace of mind that insuring with a specialist provides, why not get a quote from Insuristic today?

This article was submitted to be published by Insuristic as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.

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