Insurance Coverage for Vacant and Unoccupied Homes

February 16, 2018

Did you know that your homeowners insurance is only meant to cover you when you are in your home? Vacant and unoccupied homes may not be covered the way you think. Before you vacate your home, even temporarily, you should know how your insurance coverage might be affected.

Temporarily Vacating Your Home

If you have more than one home, you likely vacate your primary residence for extended periods. Even though you have homeowners insurance coverage, you may need to let your agent know of your plans to leave. He’ll need to know how long the home will sit empty. A vacant home is at higher risk for theft and vandalism, which can put the insurance company at risk.

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The best way to handle it is to let your agent know of your plans when you buy insurance for your vacation home. Bundling your package to have two part-time residency policies can save you money. It will also save you in the event of a disaster. No one wants to find out the hard way that they don’t have the coverage they thought they had.

Even if you don’t have another home, but will be away for a while, it’s always wise to let your insurance company know. Even situations such as time in the hospital or leaving due to complex renovations are unique. Your insurance company must always be aware of what is going on at your home if it is anything outside of full-time living.

As a general rule, if you will be away from your home for more than 30 days, you should call your insurance company. You may need an endorsement for unoccupied homeowners insurance until you return.

A Vacant Home and Insurance

A vacant home is different than an unoccupied home. An unoccupied home still looks as if the owners will return. There are still personal belongings in the home and the home is immediately habitable upon return.

A vacant home, on the other hand, is usually empty. The utilities are often shut off and the home is not immediately habitable. Upon first glance, one would be able to tell that no one lives in the home. This type of home is very risky for insurance companies. Squatters and thieves often prey on vacant homes.

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Oftentimes, a vacant home requires a separate insurance policy. Some companies do provide an endorsement, but you must check with your insurance company.

Insurance on a vacant home is often fairly restrictive. It will cover things like fire and damage from a storm. It may not cover damage that occurs as a result of the home being vacant. Things like burst pipes, vandalism, or other damages that could be prevented if someone lived in the home are often not covered.

Insurance on vacant homes is usually very expensive. It’s a high risk for insurance companies, so they charge accordingly. Expect to pay as much as double the cost of the standard homeowners insurance on the same property if it will be vacant. Usually, a home does not stay vacant for very long, though, so the cost could be temporary.

If you do need empty house insurance, find ways to make it less risky. Hiring someone to watch over the home is one way insurance companies can offer lower rates. Knowing that someone is checking on the home lowers the insurance company’s risk. They may offer lower rates as a result.

Whatever you do, make sure you are honest with your insurance company about the taste of your home. Don’t pretend you live there in the hopes that they don’t find out. If you have to file a claim, it may not go your way if the adjustor finds out you were not living in the home at the time. Being honest up front and finding ways to minimize the cost can help you make the most of the situation.

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