Unoccupied Premises: Insurance Risk in the UK

The nature of the UK’s property landscape often leaves certain premises unoccupied for varying periods. Whether it’s due to renovations, awaiting new tenants, or other reasons, unoccupied properties present unique challenges, especially in terms of insurance. In this blog and video we’ll delve into the risks associated with unoccupied premises and how insurance plays a crucial role in mitigating them.

The Risks of Unoccupied Premises:

  1. Security Vulnerabilities: Unoccupied properties are more susceptible to burglary, vandalism, arson and squatting. The absence of human activity makes them attractive targets for opportunistic criminals.
  2. Maintenance Neglect: Lack of regular human presence can lead to neglect in property maintenance. Issues like leaks, mould, or structural damage may go unnoticed and escalate into significant problems over time.
  3. Fire and Electrical Risks: Electrical faults or other fire hazards can pose substantial threats in unmonitored properties. Without immediate intervention, a small issue can quickly escalate into a major disaster.
  4. Void Periods in Coverage: Standard property insurance policies often come with stipulations about unoccupied premises. After a certain period, typically 30 days, some coverage elements may be voided, leaving the property owner exposed to financial risks.
  5. Legal Regulations: The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 relates to fire safety in non-domestic premises, including those that are unoccupied. It states that the owner has a legal responsibility for the fire safety of the building. In addition, the Occupier Liability Acts of 1957 and 1984 impose a duty of care on owners of properties towards visitors and trespassers. This applies whether the property is occupied or unoccupied.

A Necessity. Not a Luxury

  1. Specialised Coverage: Recognising the unique risks associated with unoccupied properties, there are specialised insurance products tailored for this scenario. Unoccupied premises insurance covers the void left by standard policies during vacant periods.
  2. Security Measures: Insurance providers may require specific security measures to be in place, such as alarm systems, regular inspections, and secure locks. Compliance with these conditions is crucial to maintaining coverage.
  3. Regular Inspections: Many policies mandate regular inspections of the unoccupied property. This proactive measure ensures that any emerging issues are identified and addressed promptly, reducing the risk of extensive damage.
  4. Unoccupancy Clauses: Some policies may include “unoccupancy clauses” specifying the conditions under which the property is considered unoccupied. Adhering to these clauses is essential to avoiding coverage gaps.

Tips for Property Owners

  1. Communication with Insurers: Inform your insurance provider immediately a property becomes unoccupied. Timely communication allows for adjustments to coverage and ensures compliance with policy terms.
  2. Risk Mitigation Strategies: Implement security measures, routine inspections, and maintenance schedules including removal of combustible materials and sealing up letter boxes.  Proactive risk management not only aligns with insurance requirements but also protects the property from potential damage.
  3. Professional Advice: Seek advice from Castlemead Insurance Brokers who specialise in unoccupied property coverage. We can guide you on the best policies based on your property type and specific needs. In addition, we can assist in risk management of your properties.


Unoccupied premises need not be a source of anxiety for property owners. With a thorough understanding of the associated risks and the right insurance coverage, one can navigate the void confidently. It’s a delicate balance between securing the property and ensuring compliance with insurance requirements, but it’s a balance that can protect your investment in the long run.

At Castlemead Insurance Brokers. we actively engage with our clients in advising on and assisting in the risk management of their property portfolios. By taking this proactive approach we ensure our clients comply with the  conditions and warranties of their policy.

Our experience is that many property owners do not fully understand the potential implications of non-compliance. One recent inspection we made at a clients unoccupied premises, revealed that the letter boxes had not been sealed up and the electricity supply was still live. Fortunately for the client, there had not been a fire!

About Us
Founded in 1987, Castlemead Insurance Brokers is an independent commercial insurance broker, specializing in Corporate Insurance, offering a full insurance broking and risk management service to our clients. Offices in the South-West of England, with clients across the UK, including Scotland and Channel Islands. Castlemead are experts in International Insurance Programmes and are partner members of the GBN Insurance network. We also have an EU subsidiary to aid placing insurance policies with modest EU Insurance risk

Bristol office:
Castlemead House
St John's Road
Bristol BS3 1AL

0117 945 3900

Exeter office:
Leeward House
Fitzroy Road
Exeter Business Park
Exeter EX1 3LJ

0117 945 3900