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Don't cancel insurance until 'sold'

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03 Jun 2013

If you are awaiting the sale of your home, it is essential to keep the full insurance and security intact until the new owners move in.

There are some policies where in the fine print it states that the house is only covered up to 48 hours of being vacated by the owner whereas others cover the home for up to 30 days.

This is according to Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Anne Porter, who says whether the insurance is through the bank or a personal policy, owners should check whether the home is 100 percent covered if it is standing empty.

There are some policies where in the fine print it states that the house is only covered up to 48 hours of being vacated by the owner whereas others cover the home for up to 30 days.

If something were to happen to the property while it is standing empty, it is important that the owner meets all the conditions of the insurance policy and that might be to have the security service still in full operation or someone guarding the property, she says.

Activity on a property, whether it is a house sitter or a security guard, will be a deterrent to any burglar wanting access to the home. 

You may wonder what could be stolen from an empty house but Steward says a property recently meant to go on show was empty and had been broken into via the roof. The geyser was stolen and the damage done to the upper level of the home by the disconnected water pipes was immense. The theory is that the thieves probably would have come back again until the house was stripped bare had they not been interrupted or the agent gone in to arrange things for the show day, she says. 

In this particular case, the insurance and the security had been cancelled, so the full cost of repairing and replacing missing fittings is now being borne by the owner, an expensive mistake, Steward says.

Another part of household insurance that property owners should check is whether, if there is a tenant in the home, the home is fully covered or if the home is empty while waiting for a new tenant, the insurance still continues in its entirety, she advises.

She says the money paid out on security and insurance for the months that the house is empty could be a small amount when compared to what could go wrong and the costs involved in repairs or replacements.

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