Do you have a home that goes unoccupied for several months out of the year? This may be an investment property, a vacation home, or a rental home that you are renovating or simply haven’t rented out yet.
In all of these situations, it is necessary to either purchase a secondary insurance policy or to discuss whether the property will be covered under your primary insurance plan. Unfortunately, if you assume that your unoccupied, vacant, or seasonal home is covered no matter what, you may be shocked to find that any claims you need to make will be denied.
All of this can be extremely confusing, but we want to help. Below, you’ll find definitions for three types of unattended homes and what they can mean for your home insurance.
Vacant homes are those that are left for more than 60 days without occupancy. But the key here is that they are also generally left without any personal belongings in them. All belongings like furniture, kitchen appliances, clothing, storage items, and everything else will be out of the house, and utilities like heat, water, and electricity will be turned off. The house is virtually unlivable.
Vacant homes have two main problems with them. First, vandalism and any glass breakage will not be covered by most insurance companies in the case of vacancy. Second, any other damage won’t be covered after 60 days either. Once a home is seen as vacant by insurance companies, there are only a few providers who will insure the property.
Unoccupied homes are slightly different from vacant homes because they still house the belongings of the owners. In fact, unoccupied homes can still have water, heat, electricity, and other utilities turned on.
The key difference between vacant and unoccupied homes is that no one is living in the home when it is unoccupied. Insurance companies see no occupancy as a bigger risk for many reasons. First, vandals and thieves may target unoccupied homes, causing more damage. Second, when damage does occur, it may be unnoticed for a long period, which could cause further damage (animals and other pests, water damage from rain and snow, mold and mildew, etc.).
If you have an unoccupied home, you need to check with your insurance company to see how long it can go unoccupied and still be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. While the majority of insurance companies will allow up to 60 days of no occupancy, others will only permit 30 days.
Seasonal homes are essentially vacation or secondary homes or investment properties. These may be covered by primary home insurance, but this isn’t always the case, so do not assume it. If you find that your primary insurance plan does not cover your seasonal home, you will need to purchase a secondary homeowners insurance plan to cover your home.
Get Answers Directly From Your Home Insurance Company
Home insurance can be confusing when you leave your home for a long duration of time or if you have a second home or investment property. Keep in mind that every insurance company will have different policies concerning occupancy as well.
What you can do to make things simpler is to speak directly with a reputable insurance company in your area. Sitting down with an insurance agent to discuss your current homeowner’s insurance plan and how it will be affected if you leave your home unattended is wise.