If you are like many other property owners, you purchase a home insurance policy and forget about it until you need it. However, if you own a vacant or unoccupied home, your current home insurance policy may not provide you with the coverage you need. In fact, it may leave you exposed to risks.
When Is a Home Unoccupied?
There are several concerns for home insurance companies. Specifically, if no one is living at your home, there is no one to alert of risks, thefts, vandalism, or other concerns. Here’s how a vacant, unoccupied, and seasonal home are defined:
- A vacant home is empty. There are no home furnishings at it. You moved out. The utilities are off. Generally speaking, your home insurance will not apply to a vacant home beyond 30 days.
- An unoccupied home is one in which your home furnishings are still present. The utilities are usually still on. Someone could live there right away. Even still, home insurance plans usually do not cover these homes for longer than 30 to 60 days.
- A seasonal home is one you live in from time to time, such as a vacation home or second home. This property needs its own insurance plan, in most cases, defining when and how it is used.
What Are the Risks?
If your home is not lived in right now, a variety of factors can lead to a loss. Most insurance companies work to minimize losses like this. Your policy will include language about the risks associated with your home as well as their right to cancel your policy if the home is unoccupied or vacant for an extended period of time. Here is what could happen.
In a vacant home, there is no one to secure the property. This means vandals or others could easily enter the home. For example, your home may become a target for local vandals who know you moved out, but you have not sold it yet. A fire starts after they damage the electrical system. The home has substantial losses. The home insurance company learns of the vacancy and that you did not inform them. They deny the claims.
Most insurance companies will not cover a vacant home. They are a high-risk property because they are targets for theft, vandalism, and others.
You may be going on a long trip overseas. Perhaps you have every intention of coming back home, but you extend your trip a bit longer. This may be good for you, but it presents a risk to the property. No one is living there. The same risks occur with a vacant home (although with belongings still left in the home, a theft is even more likely.) However, what happens if a pipe bursts in the basement? It causes a large amount of damage. And, since no one is home to see this, the damage worsens and create structural problems. The insurer again can deny this if you did not inform them of the vacancy.
Seasonal homes may be a part of your existing policy, but this is not always common. For this reason, it is best to inform your agent about the ownership of your home as well as how often you use it. A special policy is necessary.
Most importantly, work with a licensed insurance agent at Andreotti Insurance to properly protect your home. This is the only way to minimize the risk you will not have coverage when you need it. The right policy is critical here.