Are Vacant Homes Covered by Insurance?

You may assume that your homeowners insurance covers you in if you’ve moved recently and haven’t sold your house, or own a vacation home you visit only in the summer, or for some other reason will be leaving your home vacant for more than 30 days. But actually, it doesn’t.

A home that is vacant or unoccupied for more than one month is at a higher risk of vandalism, fire, and other mishaps, and most regular homeowners insurance policies will not cover a claim made under these circumstances.

For this reason, you’ll want to explore a special vacant-home insurance policy if you’re the owner of a house that is or will be vacant or unoccupied. This specialty coverage is available from many insurers, and provides benefits if something should happen in your empty house.

What’s the difference between vacant and unoccupied home?

Vacant homeowners insurance and unoccupied homeowners insurance are not the same. When a home is vacant, it usually requires a separate policy or endorsement to be adequately covered should an incident occur.

An unoccupied home means that the homeowner is away from the property but intends to return to the home. The utilities are still hooked up, and there is furniture within the home. In cases like this, generally, a standard homeowners insurance policy will be needed to cover the home.

However, insurance companies define vacant homes and unoccupied homes differently. Generally speaking, unoccupied homes are ones that contain personal property, furniture and have active utilities. Vacant homes are ones that are completely empty inside.

Reviewing the details of your personal situation with a licensed insurance agent will help you determine what type of homeowners insurance you need for your property.

Does insurance cover vacant homes?

Most regular homeowner insurance policies require that your home not be vacant or unoccupied for more than 30 days for the policy to remain in effect. If you have a home that you’re not residing in, your first step is to read your policy or check with your agent to find out exactly what your own policy says — it may be 30 days, or a different amount of time, depending on your insurer.

If you find that your policy is not covering your vacant or unoccupied home, you’ll need to do one of two things: either sign up for an amendment, or add-on, to your homeowners policy that will extend coverage to times when the home is not occupied, or purchase a separate policy from either a regular or specialty insurer for the property.

If your absence from the house is a one-time experience, an amendment would probably be easiest for you. However if you are expecting repeated absences, or if the time the house is vacant will be especially lengthy, a separate policy might be better suited to your circumstances. As always, a knowledgeable agent can help to answer questions and guide you to the best policy for your circumstances.

When do you need vacant home insurance?

If your home is going to be empty for more than 30 days, you may need to get vacant home insurance. Common scenarios include:

  • You bought a home but aren’t moving in immediately
  • You have a vacation home
  • You’re doing renovations and aren’t living in the home during the process
  • Medical treatment that will keep you out of your home for more than 30 days
  • You’re travelling for more than 30 days
  • You’re renting out your home, but you don’t have tenants and you aren’t living there

As long as a property is titled to you, it’s your responsibility for the property. Don’t assume your bank or your existing policy will cover damages if you move out before the home is sold. Take the necessary steps to protect one of your most important assets.

ONYX Insurance Brokers can advise you on the best plan to keep your properties protected during your absence. Contact or email us now!



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