Short-term home insurance

If you don’t need a full year of home insurance, the right type of cover for you will depend on whether you’re living in the property or will be leaving it unoccupied.

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 30 June 2021  | 3 min read

What’s short-term home insurance?

Short-term home insurance is another name for unoccupied property insurance. It covers your property temporarily while it’s left empty and you can buy just a few weeks or months of cover at a time.

Ordinary home insurance usually has restrictions on leaving your house empty for more than a specific period of consecutive days – usually 30, but in some cases up to 60 days.

So if your property is empty for longer than that, you’ll need to take out short-term home insurance to cover the property while it's empty.

Key points

  • Short-term home insurance is another name for unoccupied property insurance or temporary home insurance
  • It’s not suitable if you’re living in the property full-time – for that you need ordinary home insurance
  • If you don’t need a whole year of home insurance, you can cancel your policy early or transfer it to your next home

Can I buy normal home insurance for the short-term?

No, standard home insurance policies cover your property for 12 months.

The only way to buy home insurance for a shorter time than that is to buy unoccupied home insurance.

But what if you need cover for a shorter period of time and you’ll still be living there? Perhaps you’ve put your home on the market, it's under offer and you anticipate moving out in just a few weeks or months.

In cases like this, you can still buy an annual policy and cancel it for a pro-rata refund of unused months when you move. But there might be an administration charges.

Alternatively, you could choose to transfer the policy to your next home. Again, there’ll most likely be an administration fee to pay and the cost of premiums may increase (or decrease) too.

It’s worth getting quotes for your new home to help you decide whether to cancel or transfer your policy.

Do you need short-term home insurance?

Yes, if your home is going to be empty for longer than the maximum time your home insurer says you can leave it empty, which is usually 30 days.

If you just want home insurance cover while you’re living there, but for less than a year, you need to buy ordinary home insurance.

You might need short-term unoccupied home insurance because:

  • You’re going on a long holiday or working abroad
  • You’re moving out to live somewhere else during extensive renovations
  • You’re insuring a deceased person’s house or flat that’s standing empty while you wait for probate to come through
  • You’ve already moved to your next home but your previous one is left empty while the sale completes
  • You own a holiday home that’s empty for large parts of the year
  • You need to leave your home empty for a lengthy period to go into hospital or long-term care

Why does my home insurance policy not cover an empty home?

Empty homes are a higher risk for insurers, so they can’t cover them with a standard policy.

Empty properties are more susceptible to break-ins and theft. And with no-one at the property to spot a problem quickly, empty homes are also more likely to suffer extensive damage from burst water mains, frozen pipes or electrics shorting and causing fires.

Short term, or unoccupied property insurance allows for this extra risk and covers it, although it usually costs more than normal home insurance.

What does short-term home insurance cover?

Short-term home insurance for unoccupied homes can cover:

  • Damage to buildings and contents caused by fires, flood, storms and leaking pipes
  • Break-ins, burglary and vandalism
  • Public liability cover and legal expenses cover, which can help in instances where squatters have moved in (sometimes sold as an optional extra)

Things to know about short-term home insurance

You’ll need to meet some conditions for your short-term home insurance to be valid:

  • You’ll need to check on the property at regular intervals – that could be as often as every seven days, so make sure you choose a policy where you can meet this condition
  • The policy isn’t your main residence and is empty most of the time
  • Doors and windows should be adequately and securely locked (but not boarded up)
  • You might also be asked to turn off water at the main stopcock and have the central heating system turned on low during winter.

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