Homeowners insurance applies to a house that’s occupied. If you will be away from home for an extended period of time, you should get in touch with your insurance company before you leave the house empty. You may need to modify your insurance coverage so you will be covered if a loss occurs.
An Unoccupied or Vacant House Is Riskier for Insurers
If your house is empty for a significant amount of time, there is a greater likelihood that you will file a claim. If you do, it’s likely to cost the insurance company more than a similar claim for a house that was occupied at the time of the loss.
A house that is sitting empty is a prime target for burglary or vandalism. A problem such as a fire or storm damage can be caught quickly if a house is occupied. If a similar problem occurs in an empty house, a significant amount of time can pass before anyone becomes aware of it, and the damage can be much worse.
‘Unoccupied’ and ‘Vacant’ Mean Different Things
A house that is unoccupied contains furniture and other personal belongings, but the owner is away for some reason. If you take a business trip or go on vacation, your house will be unoccupied.
If you bought a house but don’t plan to move in for several weeks or longer, or if you’re selling your home and you’ve already moved out, the house is vacant. That means it’s sitting empty, with no furniture or other possessions inside. A vacant house is riskier to insure than one that’s unoccupied because it’s obvious that no one is living in a vacant house. That can make it more likely to be targeted by criminals.
The amount of time a house sits empty is important. Insurance companies typically consider a house to be unoccupied or vacant if no one lives there for 30 to 60 days, but each company sets its own guidelines and rules.
You May Need Different Coverage If Your House Will Be Empty
If no one will be staying in your home for a while, a standard homeowners insurance policy may not cover you in the event of a loss. You may need to purchase a separate vacant or unoccupied home policy, or you may be able to add an endorsement to your existing policy.
Get in touch with your homeowners insurance company if you expect your house to be empty for a period of time. Ask about the insurer’s policies regarding unoccupied and vacant homes and find out if you need an endorsement or a new policy.
The premiums may be significantly higher, but it’s important to have the right type of coverage. If you don’t and you file a claim, it will be denied, and you will have to pay for repairs, replacement or liability out of your own pocket. Your standard homeowners insurance policy may also be canceled.