Is your home covered while unoccupied?

Nothing can dampen the excitement of a holiday like worrying about whether insurance will cover any unpleasant surprises you may come home to. But knowing a little more about your policy coverage may help to ease some of those concerns.

It's important to know what your home and contents insurance covers, so be sure to read the PDS for the specific details and to ensure your policy is right for you.

Can an unoccupied home be insured?

While there isn’t specific “unoccupied home insurance”, GIO Home and Contents Insurance provides cover to your property while it is unoccupied. If you need to make a claim when the home was unoccupied at the time of the incident, an unoccupied excess will apply in addition to any other excess you may have to pay.

Make sure your policy is still right for you by regularly reviewing your selected coverage. If your needs have changed, it’s time to update.

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When is a home considered unoccupied?

If a home is left vacant for an extended period of time, insurers consider it unoccupied. The specific period can change between insurers, so be sure to read your PDS to find the timeframe for your policy.

With GIO Home, or Home and Contents Insurance, a home or unit is considered unoccupied when it is vacant for more than 60 continuous days. If you make a claim for an incident that occurs after this time, the unoccupied excess will apply. It is also considered unoccupied if there are no utilities, or if it’s not furnished enough to be lived in. 

How to avoid the unoccupied excess

Nominate a house sitter

A home is considered unoccupied after 60 continuous days. If you’re able, consider nominating a house sitter. You don’t have to be the one at home to avoid the unoccupied excess! If the nominated person lives in your home for at least two nights in a row, then the house is no longer considered unoccupied. That way the excess won’t apply for another 60 days.

You can add a house sitter by calling and getting a note added to your policy . If a claim needs to be made, you’ll need to prove that the house was occupied. This can be done by providing documents that show the usage of utilities, or bills for the same purpose.

Keep your home safe

Even though you won't be home, there are things you can do to make things as safe and secure as possible while you're gone.

Keep your valuables safe

Even though you’ve insured your valuables, you can keep them safe by hiding them away before you’ve left. If they’re important enough, consider storing items in a safe or a less- obvious spot within your property – that means avoiding the bedside table or main wardrobe!

Here's a few more things you can do:

  • Redirect mail. There’s almost no surer sign to a potential burglar of an unoccupied house than a large pile of mail. Consider temporarily redirecting your mail or organise someone to collect it for you.
  • Mow lawns. The other sure sign of a vacant unit is an overgrown lawn. Cut it prior to your trip and consider organising a friend or service to keep it down while you’re gone.
  • Secure doors and windows. Don’t go through the effort of organising all the other preparations just to be let down by a back window that doesn’t lock. Check every possible entrance is secure before you leave.
  • Ensure your policy is up to date and won’t need renewal while you’re away. Double-check renewal dates before leaving to avoid stress and to ensure the policy is still right for you and your home.

Turn off taps

Consider stopping the water supply to the fixtures in your home when it isn’t practical or possible for you to turn off your mains. This way, if there was a hidden leak, the potential damage that may occur while you’re away may be minimised. Before you do this, ensure that it is practical for you and your home.

What to do when you return home

Once you’re back, check your home is how you left it and scour for any signs of damage or forced entry. Make sure to check for any leaks or signs of burglary – and to remember where you inconspicuously hid your valuables!

If an incident has occurred and you’re an existing GIO customer who needs to make a claim, simply lodge your claim online or by the GIO App and a Claims Specialist will be in touch.

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Limits, conditions and exclusions apply. Emergency funds are an advance for eligible customers, deducted from the overall claim. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before buying 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.