What Is Unoccupied and Vacant Home Insurance?

Tiffany Verbeck
Tiffany Verbeck

Vacant property insurance can be hard to come by since many companies don’t offer it. However, vacant home insurance is essential to have if you own a property but don’t live in it. Imagine there was a fire at an empty home; no one would notice until the neighbors smelled smoke or saw flames, and by then, the damage could be irreparable. Several companies offer this type of insurance against things like vandalism, burglary, fire, wind, hail and damage.

You can often save money on your monthly bill by bundling your home and auto insurance from the same company.

What Is Vacant Home Insurance?

Most standard homeowners insurance won’t cover your residence if you leave the house unoccupied for periods of more than a month at a time. In these cases, you’ll want to consider transitioning to vacant home insurance for the property, adding an “endorsement” or an add-on to your current policy.

Vacant property insurance is best for anyone who:

  • Is trying to sell their home but has already moved elsewhere.
  • Has a vacation home.
  • Is undergoing significant renovations and has to move out.
  • Is a landlord and is waiting on a tenant to occupy the home.
  • Travels a lot.
  • This specialty coverage aids with specific problems that can go wrong with your home, but it has restrictions. Depending on the provider, you can get a policy for a short period, a full year or one that only covers specific issues. When shopping for vacant home insurance, consider how long it will be empty and what types of things you need to cover. Also, decide whether you need an endorsement or a replacement policy.

What Does Vacant Home Insurance Cover?

What your vacant property insurance covers depends on the provider and your policy. Your coverage also depends on which state your property is in.

  • Unoccupied means it’s ready to be lived in, furnished and contains some or all of your property.
  • Vacant means it contains no personal belongings and is empty.

Typically, you can get coverage for damages caused by people entering the property, called “malicious mischief.” These damages include vandalism or burglary. Most home burglaries happen while you’re away from home at work, so it makes sense that the target on your home increases when it’s unoccupied or vacant. 

Providers can also cover damages to your home from forces like wind, hail, fires or natural disasters. With some providers, you can use what’s called “named peril protection,” which allows you to choose which damages you would like covered.

Do I Need Vacant Home Insurance?

If you leave your home empty for more than 30 days, you should consider purchasing vacant property insurance. Maybe you have a vacation home, are in between tenants, waiting to sell your home or are in the middle of renovations. These cases usually require some form of vacant homeowners insurance to protect you from the worst-case scenario.

On the other hand, if you can get a neighbor, family member or friend to stop by or stay at the house every couple of days, your insurance provider may let you slide without unoccupied property insurance.

How Much Does It Cost to Insure a Vacant Home?

You’ll need to pay a monthly premium to hold vacant property insurance, just like your homeowner’s insurance. The cost of this type of coverage depends on the insurance provider, the policy you choose, the location of the home and how much it is worth. Some insurance companies will only insure valued under a certain amount.

Also, the amount of time your policy lasts affects the total cost. When shopping around, choose the plan for the right term. If you can’t find the specific term you need, make sure you have the option for prorated cancellation, which gives you money back if you cancel the policy early.

To save money, don’t add optional coverage you don’t need, like premises liability if no one is on the property. On some policies, you can also get discounts for adding a security alarm system or a fire alarm.

Vacant Home Insurance Companies

Farmers Insurance — Best for a well-known company

If you’re in the market for a widely known company offering vacant home insurance, consider Farmers Insurance. You can get vandalism and malicious mischief coverage, as well as a prorated cancellation. When the property becomes occupied, you can transition to a landlord policy. The company is also reasonably ranked for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power. The only downside is that Farmers only advertises a 12-month plan.

American Modern — Best for short-term vacancies

American Modern is excellent if you need vacant home insurance for short periods. It provides policies for three-, six- or 12-month terms. You can sign up for named peril protection, which covers everything specified in your plan, or actual cash value loss settlement. There’s no age restriction on your house, and the company offers an endorsement to your current policy if that’s easier. Additionally, you can get covered for malicious mischief, and it will also include other structures in your home, along with emergency repairs. However, you must show your home is in good or excellent condition and prove you have maintained it. Plus, in most states, your home must be worth under $500,000.

Foremost Insurance Group — Best for high-value homes

Foremost Insurance is an excellent choice if your home is worth over $500,000 — the company accepts homes up to $1 million in value. It also offers a year-long policy but provides prorated cancellation if you have to terminate it early. Plus, the company has no age restriction for homes. With Foremost Insurance, you can get covered for malicious mischief and vandalism, or named-peril protection. You can get an agreed loss settlement or the actual cash value — that counts the age and condition of your home toward the real value. The one downside is that it’s not available in every state.

About the Authors

Tiffany Verbeck is a personal finance writer for Reviews.com. Over the last year, she's covered credit cards, home security, and more at The Financial Diet, The Simple Dollar, and Interest.com.