Six Things You Need to Know About Insuring Your Vacant Home

By Patrick Bain, President, Long & Foster Insurance.

Sep 201626

Six Things You Need to Know About Insuring Your Vacant Home

By Patrick Bain, President, Long & Foster Insurance.

Whether your home isn’t being lived in because it’s on the market to be sold or rented, you’re taking an extended vacation or moving out temporarily for renovations, you may need to address your homeowners insurance policy. Here are six things to know about insuring a vacant home.

  1. Vacant homes are a larger liability. When a property is empty, it’s more tempting for people to vandalize it or break in. A vacant home needs a different policy that provides coverage for these kinds of incidents.
  2. Most insurance companies allow homeowners to have a regular policy on the property until it has been vacant for a specific amount of time, which could range anywhere from 30 days to 90 days.
  3. Insurance companies usually treat an unoccupied home differently from a vacant home. An unoccupied home still has furniture and belongings in it – as if the owner is on an extended trip. A vacant home is one that has been emptied of personal property.
  4. Because of the increased liability, vacant home insurance is more expensive than homeowners insurance. This can make it tempting to avoid telling your insurance company about the vacancy, but it’s important to do so.
  5. If you don’t notify your insurance company that your property is vacant, they may deny your claim, drop your coverage or consider your claim fraudulent. Policies are frequently written to exclude coverage if a property is found to be vacant, and if you are dropped, your new insurer will likely charge you more.
  6. Want to avoid paying for vacant home insurance? Consider renting out the property. This will still require your insurance to change but in this case you’ll switch from a homeowners policy to a landlord policy. You can also ask your insurer whether they consider the property occupied if a house sitter is staying there.

If you aren’t sure whether you need vacant home insurance, or don’t know where to start, speak with your insurance representative. Even if your current insurer doesn’t provide vacant home coverage, they can help get you started with recommendations.