Unoccupancy, Insurance and the Fine Print

At this time of year we are all leaving our home or place of business for short and sometimes long periods of time while we holiday and visit family.  But did you know that your Home and Contents insurance can be voided if you unoccupy your dwelling?

 

It pays to read the fine print in your insurance policies product disclosure statement, as some direct insurance companies will void your insurance if you unoccupy your dwelling for as little as 24 hours. It’s a ridiculous timeframe I know, but some of the super cheap direct insurance offers in the marketplace have this listed in their fine print.  So what does that mean for you if you have a policy like this?  Well in the case of the 24 hour period, if you left your home unoccupied for 24 hours or more and something were to happen while you were away (i.e. you got robbed, your power goes out and trips important appliances like fridges and freezers) – it means you are unable to claim on your insurance.

 

There is traditionally an unoccupancy clause in most Home and Contents policies, but the most common ones are anywhere between 60-100 days.  So how can you prevent having your insurance policy voided if you decide to leave your home/business for an extended period of time?

 

Here are some tips and suggestions we give to our clients:

·         Contact your insurance broker before you depart and ask them what their advice is to ensure you do not void your insurance policy in your absence and follow their advice. 

·         Have someone house sit for you – you’d be surprised how many people would love to house sit

·         Have someone come to the house/business and collect your mail daily and check on your dwelling in your absence

·         Give a key to a trusted neighbor, family member, staff member or friend to come and check on the premises every couple of days

 

Some insurance companies once your broker has contacted them and advised of your extended period of leave from your dwelling will send you an agreement for your cover to continue.

 

The majority of insurance companies define “occupied” residence when talking about a home as a home that is furnished such that it is comfortably habitable and you, your family or someone with your consent has resided in the home overnight:

·         Be connected to hot and cold running water

·         Be connected to the electricity supply

·         Contain a functioning refrigerator

·         Contain at least one (1) usable bed/mattress

·         Contain at least one (1) dining table or bench chair and some other furniture

 

If you are wise enough to use an insurance broker, they act for you and handle all interactions with the insurance company on your behalf, this ensures you get the best possible outcome.

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