Most home insurance polices say that if you leave your home unoccupied for a period of time you won’t be covered for things like:
- theft or attempted theft
- malicious damage
- escape of water
The period of time is usually 30 or 60 days.
Types of complaint we see
Policies don’t usually define what ‘unoccupied’ means. For example, it could mean:
- the property is uninhabitable
- nobody was living in the property at the relevant time
We often see disputes about properties that are being refurbished. These properties are usually visited frequently, but tend to be uninhabitable.
How to complain
Talk to your insurer first so they have the chance to put things right. They have to respond within eight weeks. If they don’t respond, or you’re not happy with their response, let us know.
Bringing a complaint to us is straightforward and won’t cost you anything. We’ll check if your complaint is something we can deal with, and if it is, we’ll investigate.
What we look at
We’ll look look at the facts of your case to decide whether your insurer has been:
- not misleading
If the insurer hasn’t provided a clear definition of what unoccupied means, we’ll use our own interpretation. This means we might say your property is still ‘occupied’ as long as you’ve visited it reasonably frequently. It doesn’t matter if you’ve not been sleeping or living there.
The insurer must not reject your claim unreasonably. For example, if an event causes damage in the first 30 days of your property being unoccupied, we’ll usually say the insurer should settle your claim. It doesn’t matter if nobody lived in or visited the property during that time.
However, we’re unlikely to support you if we find that:
- you misrepresented the true situation when taking out or renewing insurance
- your property has been abandoned
- your property has been so neglected that it could attract unwelcome attention as a result of being unoccupied
Putting things right
If we think your insurer has treated you unfairly or made a mistake, we’ll ask them to put things right. We’d expect them to put you in the position you would have been in if the problem hadn’t happened. How we ask them to do this will depend on the case. For example, we might ask your insurer to:
- deal with a claim they’ve rejected
- add interest to any claim you should have been paid
- pay for more work to be done if you’ve complained about repairs
We may also ask the insurer to pay you compensation for any distress or inconvenience you’ve experienced as a result of the problem. Read more about how we award compensation.
Insurer rejects claim because the house was left unoccupied
Property left empty due to owner’s illness but claim still rejected
A customer claims for damage to a property he was only visiting periodically
Information for financial businesses
You can read more information about unoccupied properties in the business section of our website. This includes technical details and information to help you resolve complaints.