Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Travel — The Occupancy Clause

After months of lockdown, it looks like holidays might not be so impossible this year as they seemed. Travel restrictions and quarantine rules are being relaxed, and the chances of being able to jet off to the sun are steadily increasing

But there is still a danger you may not have you may not have thought of — and this is nothing to do with Covid-19. It’s about your insurance policy.

Chances are you haven’t read the small print on your policy, or if you have, it was a long time ago and you’ve forgotten it. If your policy is typical, though, it’s likely to include an Occupancy Clause.

This puts restrictions on how long you’re allowed to leave the property unoccupied. If you haven’t met the requirements and you need to make an insurance claim, whether for fire, flood, theft or accidental damage, it’s possible that the insurer’s loss adjuster may turn down your claim.

What Is the Occupancy Clause?

Policies vary, but for most domestic policies and many commercial ones, the Occupancy Clause allows you to leave the property empty for thirty days, though it could be less. If the period is likely to exceed the limit, the Insurer must be notified, preferably in writing or by email.

There are also specified actions you must take. The most common are that the heating must be kept on, someone must make fortnightly visits and you must install an alarm. It’s vital to check exactly what your policy says, though, and make sure you know exactly what needs to be done.

This can apply to any circumstances when the property will be unoccupied, not just to holidays, and it’s particularly relevant to anyone letting out a property. The landlord must notify the Insurer as soon as the tenant has moved out. Perhaps the landlord’s making repairs or decorating before the new tenant moves in. This can easily stretch out beyond thirty days, so watch out if you’re about to make an insurance claim.

Whether your insurance is for a domestic or a commercial property, make sure you know your obligations under the Occupancy Clause. If you don’t, there’s a good chance that the loss adjuster will turn you down and leave you without a penny if you have to make a claim — and not even Allied Claims will be able to help you then.