As a homeowner, you’ve got a lot of responsibility on your plate – even when you’re not actually occupying your home. Home insurance policies often don’t allow for a homeowner to leave their house unattended for an extended period of time. Now, there’s a difference between an unoccupied home and a vacant home, but the bottom line is that you may need to get special coverage if you’re leaving your house empty. We’ll go over why your normal homeowner’s insurance may not cover your empty house and how you can make sure your investment is covered.
What’s the difference between unoccupied and vacant homes?
There’s a slight difference between an unoccupied home and a vacant home:
A home is unoccupied if you leave all the furniture and your belongings in the home and just go stay somewhere else (like if you’re on an extended trip or vacation.)
A vacant home has no furniture and the utilities are off. This could be if you’re selling your home and you move out, or if you’ve bought a home and you haven’t moved in yet.
Whatever the reason that you’re not living in your home, it’s important to talk to your insurance agent about your plans.
We’ll explain why in just a second.
Do I need to get vacant or unoccupied home insurance?
Here’s the thing:
Your normal home insurance policy probably won’t continue to cover you if you have to move out of your home for a long time. Some insurance policies will suspend coverage if you’re gone for more than 30 days, while others will give you 60 days. That means that if your home is unoccupied and you have a claim, it would most likely not be covered under your normal insurance. Anyways, it’s really important that you understand your insurance policy and read what it says about leaving your home unattended.
The reason home insurance doesn’t cover a vacant house is that there are a lot of risks associated with them. Vandals can trash the home for fun. Thieves can break in and steal various things. If you have a leak in your home and no one to notice it, the water can cause some major damage. Fire and flooding are also dangers for unoccupied homes, and since no one’s there, they can cause damage because they spread unchecked. These risks are why insurance companies aren’t crazy about vacant homes.
Now – you might be wondering…what if I just don’t tell the insurance company that I’m not occupying the home?
Well, that’s not the best plan.
You could have a loss to the property that insurance won’t cover because they discover the home wasn’t occupied. You’re in violation of your contract if occupancy is a requirement of coverage.
And violating your contract…perhaps not the best route.
How do I insure my unoccupied or vacant home?
We mentioned the risks that a vacant home faces. Vandals, burglars, squatters, fires, trees falling…and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. To protect your investment, it’s important to explore other insurance options.
But first things first:
You need to read your current policy carefully to see what it says about vacant or unoccupied homes. Find out how much time your policy allows you to stay elsewhere. If you’ll be gone longer than your policy allows, it’s time to reach out to your agent.
You have a couple options:
Find out if your carrier can offer you a vacancy permit or an endorsement to your policy to provide protection for your home. The endorsement can help you ensure that your home is still protected from certain risks. Keep in mind that your coverage will likely be more limited than what you had under your standard home insurance.
Vacant home insurance:
You can also see if your current carrier offers vacant home insurance policies. These are policies created specifically for vacant homes (as the name suggests.) If your carrier does not offer unoccupied or vacant home insurance, ask for recommendations of other insurers – chances are your company can point you in the right direction. (Vacant home insurers are often specialty companies, which is why it might be trickier to find one and why you should ask for a recommendation.) But don’t forget to do your research first – find out how reputable the new company is and if they’re financially stable. It’s really important to get a company that will be there for you if you have a claim.
Here’s something else to consider:
The term for a vacant home insurance policy can be between three months to a year. It’s a good idea to ask if the insurer you’re considering will refund any extra premium if you end up occupying the home before the policy ends. You might need this flexibility depending on your situation.
Pro tip: Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to sort out vacant home insurance. Leaving it until the last minute will only cause you more stress. As soon as you realize you’ll be gone for longer than your policy allows, go on the hunt for new coverage for your home.
How much does vacant home insurance cost?
Getting insurance for a vacant home is not quite like insuring a home that’s lived-in. The risk is a lot greater because there’s no one looking after the home and tending to it. There’s no one to keep an eye on things. Because of the increased risk with unoccupied homes, the coverage could be more expensive than standard home insurance.
So, that’s the deal about insuring a vacant home. It’s really important to be upfront with your agent to make sure that you have the coverage you need and that you don’t violate your contract. Even though you might not be living there, your home is still an asset, and getting the right insurance is crucial.
And we would be happy to help you make sure you have the coverage you need for your vacant home. Our agents can help you find the solution that best fits your needs. All you have to do to get in touch is fill out our quote form or call us today.