Unoccupied home insurance
Sort out your insurance before you go away with unoccupied home insurance in Australia.
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Want to get insurance for a home no one is living in? All you have to do is select "Unoccupied" while completing a quote or contact your current insurer. If you don't, your policy might be voided. A home is generally considered unoccupied after 60 days, but this differs from insurer to insurer, so it's best to check.
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Already have home insurance? Just let your insurer know that the house will be unoccupied. Make sure you do let them know, as if you leave the place unoccupied for over 60 days without telling them, you could void your policy.
What does unoccupied mean for home insurance?
If you leave your home for an extended period of time, it will be considered unoccupied by your home insurer. When a home is considered unoccupied, the insurer will generally do one of two things: impose an additional excess on any claims that arise while your home is unoccupied or cancel your policy. To prevent this, you need to contact them directly.
Generally, a home is not considered unoccupied if it's vacant for less than 30 days, but this differs from insurer to insurer, so it's worth looking into. If you exceed the time limit, your home will be considered unoccupied, and you may not be covered if you need to make a claim.
If you know that your house will be unoccupied for an extended period of time, make sure you let your insurer know so they can either update your existing policy or issue a new one.
How to keep an unoccupied house in Australia
You may be required to make sure your home is kept in a lived-in state by:
Making sure all windows and doors are locked
Keeping the lawns mowed
Stopping the mail, newspaper and other regular deliveries
Getting someone such as a friend, relative or neighbour to check on your house (inside and outside once a week)
These conditions vary between insurers and in accordance with your personal circumstances, but failing to abide by them could cause any claims during this period to be refused.
When will I need unoccupied home insurance?
Here are some common scenarios where you might leave your home unoccupied for long enough that it could affect your insurance.
- Leaving your home empty while travelling. If you're planning an extended holiday, there's probably a high likelihood that you'll exceed your insurer's maximum unoccupied limit. For cover to continue, make sure you contact your insurer and notify them of your plans before you depart.
- Leaving your home empty while you renovate. Living in your house while it's being renovated can be stressful and far from practical, so moving out for a few months while work is completed may be the best solution. Not only will your home insurance cover be cancelled if you're away for an extended period, but keep in mind that home insurance commonly won't cover claims that arise because of the renovations.
- Leaving a house vacant while trying to sell it or rent it out. If you plan to leave the property vacant while you either look to sell it or try to find new tenants to rent it out, check with your insurer to find out how this will affect your policy. While many insurers will cover unoccupied homes for up to 60 or 90 days, there are some landlord insurance policies that require you to notify the insurer each time your home is left vacant due to a change of tenant.
Protecting your home while you're away
If you're away from home, it might be worth getting a house sitter or arrange for someone to check in regularly. Ask them to take a look inside at least once a week to make sure everything is alright, as well as take care of any tell-tale signs of a vacant home, such as uncollected mail or unmown lawn. Arrange for a friend or a professional garden service to stay on top of lawn and garden maintenance while you're away. Before you leave, thoroughly inspect how secure your home is. Check all locks on windows and doors, and consider installing a back-to-base burglar alarm for added security.
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