Imagine the worst happens, and your vacation home burns down. It’s bad, but you console yourself to think that at least you’ve got homeowner’s insurance. Imagine your horror when you find out that because you left your home vacant you invalidated your insurance!
This might sound extreme, but it could happen to you if you don’t have the correct vacant home insurance. But what exactly is vacant home insurance? How long does a home need to be left vacant to need it?
Let’s take a closer look at vacant home insurance, and how you can make sure you’ve got the right coverage.
Insurers Are Wary of Vacant Homes
It may be deep in the small print, but all home insurance policies will have something to say about leaving your home vacant. For the most part, insurance companies are not crazy about this, because it increases the risk.
So if you have a home that you leave vacant for long periods of time, you’ll need some different or extra insurance.
This usually comes in two forms. You can either purchase a vacant home insurance policy or add it as an endorsement to your homeowners’ insurance.
Understanding Key Terminology
It’s important to understand exactly what insurers mean when they talk about a vacant home and an unoccupied home. To the layperson, they likely sound like the same thing, but there are some subtle differences.
An unoccupied home is one that is furnished, stocked, and ready for use as a home. Think vacation home, beach house, that kind of thing.
All the utilities are in place. It doesn’t look from the outside like it’s unoccupied.
A vacant home is a residential property that is completely empty. There’s no furniture inside. This is a higher risk for insurance companies.
Why It Matters
That’s because unoccupied homes are often visited more frequently than vacant homes. If there’s a burst pipe, or if it gets broken into, you’re more likely to catch it quickly. That means that the damage will usually be less extensive, and cost less for the insurance company to fix.
When you are buying an insurance premium, choose carefully. Make sure that you’re using the right term so that your insurer will pay out.
As you’d expect, you’ll likely pay higher premiums for vacant home insurance than for unoccupied home insurance.
Who Needs Unoccupied Home Insurance?
Insurance companies vary in their definition of an unoccupied home. A good rule of thumb is that most insurers do not like you to leave your home unoccupied for more than 30 days.
If you plan to leave your home unoccupied for longer, speak to your insurer. Ask them for their definitions of a vacant home and an unoccupied home.
You may need some form of unoccupied home insurance in the following situations:
- You’ve bought a house, but aren’t going to move in for a few weeks or months
- You’re going to be away from your home on vacation or in hospital for several weeks
- You have a rental property that is currently unoccupied
- You have a vacation home that you only visit once or twice a year
- You’re renovating a house and move out while renovations are underway
Scenarios around vacation homes and rental properties may readily spring to mind. But it’s good to remember that even relatively short-term periods away from your house could invalidate your policy. When you’re moving or sick in the hospital, it could be easy to forget to check this out.
How Can I Buy Vacant Home Insurance?
You have two main options in this scenario. You can either call your current insurer and talk to them about adding an endorsement to your existing policy.
Alternatively, you can shop around for vacant home insurance that is specifically tailored to your needs. An insurance agency can help you to shop for quotes from multiple insurers. They can get a good understanding of your needs and help you to find the most suitable cover.
How Much Will It Cost?
There’s no way to sugarcoat this. The insurance industry bases its pricing on risk, and these types of homeowner insurance do cost more than standard policies.
You’ll likely pay at least 50% more for an unoccupied home insurance policy than you would for a standard policy.
The fact is though it will give you peace of mind. You will know that you have coverage in the event of vandalism, break-in, fire, or other damage. Other types of home insurance that are not designed for vacant periods simply won’t provide the level of cover you need.
Points to Bear in Mind
Be prepared. Some insurers will simply not insure vacant properties. They may say that it is too much of a risk because a vacant home can be a magnet for vandals and squatters.
That’s why it’s good to work with an insurance agency to find the correct level of cover. You only have to explain your requirements once, rather than calling multiple insurers for quotes.
They will go through several insurers and come back with a range of quotes for you. They will also help you to understand exactly what each policy covers and excludes.
Get the Right Vacant Home Insurance for You
If you have a property that will be left vacant for several weeks for any reason, don’t take a risk. Find out what additional vacant home insurance cover you need. This will put your mind at rest that even if the worst happens, you won’t be left out of pocket.
At InsuredASAP, we are dedicated to finding you the best insurance coverage, for the most affordable price. Our dedicated team will scour the market to find you the very best homeowner’s insurance, that meets all your needs.
Click here to start your quote today!