Sometimes the housing market is hard when you’re trying to sell your home. Sometimes, you may need to move out of your house for an extended period of time. Regardless of your situation, you may need to leave your home for quite a while. Unfortunately, your regular home insurance usually won’t cover a home you’re not living in. But if there’s no one to watch or check up on the property and it’s not insured, how can you protect it from vandalism, theft, or any other sort of disaster? Find out here.
What’s the difference between an unoccupied and a vacant home?
First, it’s important to define the difference between a vacant and an unoccupied home. (Yes, it can matter to your insurance company.) An unoccupied home is one where there’s furniture in the house and the place is generally ready for anyone to turn the key and live in.
A vacant house is one where the lights are not on and nobody’s home. There’s no furniture to see, and the house is pretty much the husk of a building with no one living in it. For example, this could be a house that someone has bought but has not moved into yet.
When is my house considered unoccupied or vacant?
It’s important to talk to your insurance agent, then, about the amount of time your policy will cover. Usually, normal home insurance policies can cover an unoccupied home for 30-60 days after someone moves out. Most home insurance policies will have certain exclusions for vacant properties once the time limit is up.
Why won’t my regular home insurance cover a vacant house?
The reason why is risk. A vacant house can present golden opportunities for vandals and thieves. It can also present opportunities for people to get hurt or bring down neighborhood value.
Insurance companies prepare for the worst. In a house where no one is there to keep an eye on things, an unattended electrical fire could break out, a vandal could create an eyesore on your walls, or the neighborhood kids could wreak havoc in their new “playhouse.” Carriers don’t want to take on the same risks for a vacant house as they do for a property that has someone keeping an eye on the things that could go wrong.
Can’t I just tell my insurance that I am still living in the house?
You may be thinking, “Why can’t I just tell them that I’m still living there?” Well, you could then be responsible if you have some sort of a claim because the insurance company could deny it. Whether you’re living in the home or not, it’s still your responsibility, and if the property is not properly covered, you could be stuck footing the bill yourself. If your policy requires occupancy as a condition, you could be in violation of your contract if you exceed the “allowable” amount of time.
How do I insure my vacant or unoccupied house?
While insurance companies aren’t eager to take on the risks of a vacant building on a general policy, it can be rather easy to get additional coverage for the building.
Some insurance companies will just let you add a vacancy permit to your existing home insurance policy. You may also be able to get an entirely separate policy (which means you can probably just change your insurance for that property from a regular insurance policy to a vacant home policy.)
If your current carrier doesn’t offer these options, it’s completely fine to ask your agent for recommendations. Whether you go with a specialty insurance company that your agent recommends or one that you find, do your research before getting their policy. Make sure they’re a reputable company.
At any rate, make sure you understand what is and is not covered under your vacant home insurance. It’s really important that you know which losses you have coverage for and which you do not.
How much does vacant home insurance cost?
Since you’re not actually occupying the house that you’re insuring, vacant home insurance could be more expensive. This is why it’s important to sit down with your agent and be straightforward with the conditions of your home and the types of risks you’re worried about. Your agent can help you make sure you have the right coverage while you’re away.
Our insurance agents are experts at finding the right vacant home coverage for your specific home. We’ll help you find multiple quotes on the coverage and rates that work for you while you’re transitioning into your new stage of life. To get started, just give us a call or fill out our easy online form!