You’re renovating your house and you’ve decided to move out whilst the building work’s going on. As you know, house moves, even temporary ones, can be disruptive. In such situations it’s easy to forget that you also need to pay attention to your house insurance.

That’s because your house is going to be used differently. Contractors will be coming and going and you and your family will be living somewhere else.

Before that happens speak to your broker about insuring your unoccupied property. When you talk, make sure you get answers to the following:

Will I need to change my insurance, once my property is unoccupied?

Ask any insurance broker a question like that and you’ll get an immediate and positive response.

Many policies will allow you to leave your property unoccupied for up to thirty days, but you must let your insurers know what’s happening. Explain why the property will be empty and what sort of work is going on.

After thirty days you’ll probably find that your insurer will exclude a good many of the perils your policy would normally cover, for example, damage caused by water, burst pipes, leaks etc. They may refuse to continue with cover altogether.

Don’t be tempted to “forget” to tell your insurer about your plans. They won’t pay out if something happens to your property. They may even cancel your cover for non-disclosure.

How is insurance cover for unoccupied properties different from other types of cover?

When your property is unoccupied, as far as your insurer is concerned, the risk increases. That means the premium you pay to your insurer will be higher, when no one is living in your house. The cover offered may be different, too.

The excess on your policy will go up and you will be expected to adhere to certain conditions. You’ll probably be expected to make regular inspections of your property and record details of your visit. Your records will be important if, at a later date, you want to make a claim.

The most important thing to remember is that you will need to check what cover your insurer is prepared to offer, and be aware of the implications of these changes for you, the homeowner.

Aren’t the contractors responsible for the safety of my property whilst they’re working on it?

The contractors you bring onto your property – the builders, the electricians, the plumbers and the like – are responsible, but only in certain circumstances.

If one of your contractors causes damage by negligence, leaving windows open and allowing interior decorations to be damaged by rain, for example, he can be held responsible. However, to be clear about what you could claim, you would need to know something about the sort of insurance cover the contractor has and what it does, and doesn’t, cover.

Then, of course, the burden of responsibility for proving the contractor has been negligent lies with you. That can be a complex and frustrating task. It’s also one that can lead to bad feelings and frayed tempers.

All in all, it’s better to make sure you have your own cover in place than risk needing to make a claim against a third party’s insurance.

Don’t take chances

The best thing to do, when you’re planning your property’s renovation, is to talk to your insurance broker sooner rather than later.

When you speak, explain what work is going to be done and how long your property is likely to be unoccupied. Ask your broker about the options available to you as far as your insurance is concerned. Get advice about the best way forward. Then you can stop worrying about insurance issues and give your full attention to the task of improving your home.

Here at Country Life Insurance we’re experts in helping homeowners to obtain the right insurance cover for periods when their property is unoccupied. Find out more about this and how we can help by visiting: www.countrylifeinsurance.co.uk/unoccupied_property_insurance.htm and www.propertysolutionsherts.co.uk/property-insurance.