If you own a property that is likely to be unoccupied for a long period of time, then taking out unoccupied property insurance or holiday home insurance (depending on your circumstances) is obviously a very prudent thing to do. But there are a number of other steps you can take to help reduce the risk of needing to make a claim in the first place. Listed below are some effective measures you can take:

• Make sure the tiles on your roof are secure – loose tiles are a hazard to people passing by the building, and if they are dislodged, rain and snow can easily get in.
• Check to see if there are any tree branches near your windows. If there are, get them cut back to reduce the risk of them breaking a window pane.
• Make sure your guttering is clear of leaves. If a blockage occurs, gutters can overflow, causing icicles to form which can add weight to your guttering and potentially bring it down.
• Ensure your pipes and tanks are well insulated. A burst pipe in the loft space can result in hundreds of litres of water pouring through your home – ruining carpets and furniture at the property.
• Make sure you meet the requirements of your insurance policy in terms of locks. This usually means ensuring you have good locks on your main exit doors (such as 5 lever mortice deadlocks) and key lockable windows.
• You might also consider setting up some timed lighting, so would-be intruders think that someone is at home. Motion-sensitive lights on the exterior of your home and an intruder alarm are also good ways of increasing the security of your property or holiday home while it is unoccupied.

While all these measures are useful in preventing any unwanted guests or any unnecessary damage while your property is unoccupied, real peace of mind can only be provided by an insurance policy appropriate to your needs.

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