What Is Unoccupied and Vacant Home Insurance?
Unoccupied and vacant home insurance is a type of insurance that protects homes that are uninhabited. Say, for example, you’re going on an extended vacation or flipping a house — unoccupied or vacant home insurance can be purchased as an additional endorsement on your regular homeowners policy or as a separate policy altogether to protect your investment while you’re away. This protection is often required for homes that will be uninhabited for longer than 30 days. Without this additional coverage, any damage that occurs while you’re away is likely not covered by your homeowners insurance policy.
Should You Get Unoccupied and Vacant Home Insurance?
Homes that are left vacant are at greater risk of incidents like vandalism, fires, and break-ins. And with no one there, other occurrences like burst pipes or leaky roofs may go unnoticed. If you’ve moved to a new home and haven’t sold your old one, you may want to consider insuring the vacant home to protect that investment.
Other reasons for choosing unoccupied home insurance include:
- Vacation homes
- Renting or selling the home (and no one lives there yet)
- Frequent travel for weeks at a time
- Extended hospitalization
- Renovations that cause you to live elsewhere
How Much Does It Cost to Insure an Unoccupied Home?
There are many factors that go into the cost of your unoccupied or vacant home insurance, and we highly recommend that you get several quotes from different insurers before committing to one. You should start by inquiring with your current insurer about the cost of an add-on endorsement, as it’s typically cheaper than taking out an entirely separate policy.
Typically, an unoccupied and vacant home policy is about 50% of the cost of a regular homeowners policy. And luckily, most insurers let you prorate the time (if you’re quoted annually) and only charge you for the time the home is uninhabited. However, cost is entirely dependent upon your personal circumstances, including the distinction between vacant and unoccupied homes. A vacant home is completely empty, while an unoccupied one has furniture and utilities set up. There are different risks associated with each level of vacancy, and your insurer may choose to distinguish between the two. It could be as cheap as $100 per month for an endorsement if your home is considered unoccupied, while a vacant home may run closer to $300 per year. Your location, claims history, and discount eligibility can also alter your premiums.
How Long Can You Leave a House Unoccupied?
In general, leaving your home unoccupied for more than 30 days (or 60 days, depending on the insurer) will void your regular insurance, and any claims you make on the house from when it was unoccupied could be denied. It’s also possible that if you stop by the house, ask a neighbor or friend to check on the property, or hire a house sitter, you won’t need the additional unoccupied policy. If you’re planning on leaving a home vacant for an extended period of time, consult your insurer.
Steps to Protect Your Unoccupied Home
In addition to extra insurance coverage, there are a few ways you can protect a home that you aren’t living in.
- Install a security system. Outfitting your home with a security system will help ward off criminals and keep you constantly informed about the condition of your home. We recommend cameras, entry sensors, and motion-sensor lights.
- Maintain the exterior. By keeping the lawn trimmed, lightbulbs working, and gutters clean, you can help avoid water damage and maintain the appearance that someone lives there.
- Inform your community. Let trusted neighbors know that you won’t be staying in the home. They can help keep an eye out for any suspicious activity.
- Monitor your utility bills. If you notice a particularly high water bill, there’s a good chance that something is leaking and causing water damage.
- Get quotes from one of our favorite homeowners insurance providers.
- Here’s everything you should know about insurance claims.
- Try out some of the eight ways to lower your homeowners insurance premiums.