Unoccupied Home? Check the Small Print to Ensure You’re Insured

Sunday, July 31, 2011

CHESTER, England, August 1, 2011 -

  • Home insurance could become invalid after only 30 days away from home
  • Inform your insurer if planning an extended trip away, says

Brits heading off on an extended trip away this summer could risk their home being left uninsured if unoccupied, warns

Analysis from Britain’s number one comparison site of home insurance policy wording reveals many homeowners risk invalidating their insurance if the property is left unoccupied for more than 30 days at a time. This could impact the half a million Brits who choose to live abroad for part of the year,[1] and also those considering taking a career break or gap year. Some insurers only provide existing cover for unoccupied homes for a maximum of 30 days, while some providers cover properties for up to 60 days.[2] In addition, consumers shouldn’t assume that buying a more expensive home insurance policy will guarantee longer cover.

Peter Harrison, insurance spokesperson at, said: “If you’re planning an extended trip this summer, whether soaking up the sun on holiday or embarking on a career break, it’s important to check the small print of your home insurance policy to ensure you will still be covered for the length of time you are away. Don’t assume you will be covered for the whole period; providers are very strict on how long a home can be left unoccupied for.

“If you are going to be jetting off for an extended period, informing your insurer that your home will be unoccupied is essential. Providers are likely to increase your monthly premiums on a case by case basis for the duration of the trip so speaking to your insurer early is vital to avoid unexpected costs. They may even ask you to place all items of value into storage. In addition, when you are leaving the property unoccupied it is important to take safety precautions such as putting lights on a timer to help prevent the risk of burglaries or damage to your home.”’s top tips to keep your home safe while unoccupied:

  • Keep all items of value away from windows and out of sight from opportunistic thieves
  • Ensure you lock all windows and doors before leaving the house
  • Regularly check the state of your locks, and where necessary replace older, weaker ones with new locks. Five-lever mortise locks are recommended for external doors while windows should ideally have two bolt locks.
  • Don’t leave high value items lying around the house, lock them away safely, and consider putting them in storage
  • Install a good home security system
  • When leaving the house for a lengthy period of time, put a timer on your light switches to give the impression that you are at home.
  • If you are away, remember to cancel newspaper and milk deliveries and ask someone you can trust to open and close the curtains and collect mail.
  • Don’t leave keys in obvious places such as under a doormat. Also beware of ‘hook n crook’ thefts - where keys are left so close to a door that a burglar can simply hook them through a letterbox and open the door.
  • Install security lighting - illuminate your visitors for their safety as well as your own. Unwelcome visitors are less likely to loiter if they’re ‘in the spotlight’.
  • If you are away for a long period, then consider inviting a friend or relative to house sit for you.

Notes to Editors:

[1]  Foreign & Commonwealth Office data, half a million Britons live abroad for part of the

[2]   Length of time property can be left unoccupied without invalidating home insurance:

Insurer             Maximum number of days unoccupied

Churchill          30 Days
Esure              60 Days
LV=                60 Days
Marks & Spencer    30 Days
The AA             30 Days
Barclays           40 Days
Direct Line        60 Days
Swiftcover         30 Days
More Th>n          60 Days
NatWest            60 Days
Legal & General    30 Days
Halifax            30 Days

  • Based on semi-detached house worth £150,000 in Manchester (M20). £35,000 contents, 5 years NCD
  • Excess stands at £100 for each policy above
  • Sourced by 27.07.2011’s customer commitment compares (at 24th June 2011)

  • 102 car insurance providers and 77 home insurance providers
  • 13 broadband providers and 19 energy providers   
  • 28 unsecured loan and 5 secured loan providers
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