Maintaining a home

A guide to unoccupied home insurance

13 July 2023

Insurance is the last thing you want to think about when you’re on a well-deserved getaway. By knowing more about your cover before you leave, you can be confident in leaving any worries at the door.

What counts as an unoccupied home?

If a home is left vacant for a long time, insurers will generally consider it to be unoccupied. That specific timeframe may differ between insurers, so check your Product Disclosure Statement for the details of your policy.

Suncorp Insurance considers a property to be unoccupied after being vacant for 60 continuous days. If you make a claim for an incident that occurred after this period of time, an additional unoccupied excess may apply. The home may also be considered unoccupied if there are no utilities connected, or if the property is not furnished enough to live in. You can learn more by reading the Product Disclosure Statement.

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Can my home be insured if it’s unoccupied?

Yes, Suncorp Home and Contents Insurance will cover your home even when it’s unoccupied – your policy won’t be cancelled just because no one is home!

However, there will be an additional excess applicable, called an unoccupied excess, which will need to be paid if you make a claim for a covered event that occurred while the home is unoccupied.

Examples of when a home is considered unoccupied

There are several ways that the ‘unoccupied home’ label may apply to your house. Here are some common examples:

  • Prolonged renovations – think redoing a roof or having a completely knocked-open wall.
  • Extended holidays where no one is eating, sleeping, and living at the home or unit.
  • The home is empty for a period in between tenants.
  • Selling your home.
  • A property that is used as a summer or winter holiday home.

How to keep your home occupied

If you think you’ll be away from home for a while, there are ways to avoid the additional unoccupied excess.

Nominate a house sitter

A house is considered to be unoccupied when it’s vacant for 60 continuous days – ‘continuous’ is the key word here.

If you’re able, consider asking a relative or close friend to stay overnight for a few days to reset that 60-day timer. They’d only need to stay for two consecutive nights!

You can nominate that trusted personto be able to make a claim on your behalf by adding them as an authorised representative on your policy – that way, even if something happens while you’re gone, you won’t have to stress. They can be removed from your policy at any time.

If a claim is made, you may be asked to prove the house was occupied at the time of the event. This can be as simple as providing documents that show utility usage, like water, electricity, or gas. With that, you can avoid the unoccupied excess.

Keep your home safe while you’re gone

There are a few things you can do to help keep your home safe and secure before you go, so you can reduce the chance of needing to make a claim in the first place.

Redirect mail

A clear sign of an empty home is an overflowing mailbox – and potential burglars may take notice! Consider redirecting your mail while you’re gone, or having a neighbour or friend collect it for you.

Mow lawns

Overgrown grass is also a clear sign you’re not home! Trim it down before you head off, and consider having a friend keep it down while you’re away.

Turn off taps

If it’s possible, consider shutting off the water supply to the fixtures in your home, or turn off your mains completely. This stops any possible leaks from causing damage while you’re away, so you don’t come home to a soaked carpet or flooded kitchen. If any damage is caused to the house due to wear and tear, it may not be covered.

Lock everything

It’s no use going to all the effort of organising everything if you leave the side door and windows unlocked! Check that everything is locked before you leave – then check it again.

Hide valuables

Your valuables may be insured, but you can take extra precautions. Consider hiding them in a secure place before leaving, like a safe or another less-than-obvious place in your home. Get creative – you can do better than on top of the dresser!

Once you’re home

Give your home a once-over to check that everything is how you left it. It may not immediately be obvious if something is wrong, so be sure to check your valuables are still in your clever hiding spot, and that no other damage has popped up while you were away.

If something has happened and you’re an existing Suncorp Insurance customer, you can easily make a home insurance claim online or via the Suncorp Insurance App.

Make a claim

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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. The Target Market Determination is also available. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.