Unoccupied property insurance winter precaution conditions now in force

For owners of unoccupied property, second homes or holiday homes as well as student houses which might be empty for some of the winter period, it’s time to check your insurance policy conditions and ensure that your heating and other winter precautions have been taken.

Heating conditions

Most policies will have heating conditions which will already be in force. Check the minimum temperature of your central heating requirement and make sure that your heating is set correctly on a 24 hour basis. Remember, the wording on your policy is likely to stipulate that the heating system must maintain the property to a minimum temperature 24 hours per day. If your thermostat is not accurate, you could find your insurer declining a claim even if the heating has been set, so a check with a thermometer is a sure way of ensuring your heating system is doing it’s job correctly. If in doubt, increase the temperature by a couple of degrees to make sure.

Water tanks and pipes in roof spaces

If you have a tank or any pipes in the loft space, they are especially vulnerable to freezing due to the loft insulation keeping the heat in the main house below. But when you are allowing the property to cool to a lower temperature, this will increase the risk of temperatures in the loft space plunging below freezing. Some policies (including ours) dictate that loft hatches must be left open by 12 inches or 30cm to allow some of the warmer air to circulate in the roof space which will help prevent pipes and tanks freezing which can cause devastating damage to the whole house.


Ensure the property is inspected regularly and records are taken. Any heating malfunctions, blocked drains or gutters, loose tiles or damage to the fabric of the building can lead to larger problems developing quickly, so it is essential that any maintenance issues are dealt with immediately. Insurers stipulate various minimum requirements for inspections – check your wording or contact your insurer for clarification.


It is important to ensure that the grounds outside your empty property are kept tidy and well cared for. It will reduce your risk of malicious damage if the property and the garden are obviously well cared for.

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