The best way to make sure that your unoccupied home is safe and secure from damage is to purchase home insurance. Home insurance covers a variety of things, including theft, natural disasters like floods and hurricanes, vandalism, fire, and so on.
Think about this:
If you have an unoccupied house, then it is recommended that you get it insured so that if anything does happen to it while it’s vacant then you are eligible for compensation.
Unoccupied Home Insurance
Many people are not aware that there is a type of insurance for an unoccupied house. It’s called vacant home insurance1, and it can be purchased by homeowners who plan to have an empty property at some point in time.
In case you’re wondering:
Unoccupied home insurance is a type of homeowner’s insurance that protects the property owner or renter from liability in case someone gets injured on their property. This can be helpful for people who are renting out an apartment, condo, or other space and want to protect themselves if someone gets hurt inside.
Unoccupied Home Insurance Cover
If you’re looking for unoccupied home insurance, look for coverage that includes the following:
Let’s have a closer look:
- Flood, fire, or storm damage: If a natural calamity strikes while you’re away
- Water or oil escaping: If a pipe bursts or if there is a leak in the house
- Stealing and/or attempting to steal: If someone successfully enters or attempts to enter your home and steals your possessions
- Vandalism: If criminal damage occurs in your absence
- Expenses for lawyers: If you need to pay legal fees to get squatters removed, trespassers removed, or personal identity theft removed,
- Public liability: If damage is caused by a property that you own, such as when a roof tile falls and cracks a car window, you are liable.
Reasons for an Unoccupied House
An empty property policy covers the structure and/or contents of a property that has been vacant for 30 days or more.
Your property will be empty when you’re:
- Awaiting probate2
- In the process of being sold or occupied.
- Refurbishment or extensive renovation is in progress.
- The occupant is not present because it is a second home, they have gone on vacation, they have been hospitalized, or they have been put into care.
By now, you should:
Notify your homeowner’s insurance company when and for how long your home will be vacant. Your policy may cover your vacant house, but if it doesn’t, you can make alternate arrangements to avoid violating your coverage.
Some policies may require that you have someone come to the house at least once every 14 days to check on it. You may not be covered at all if you file a claim and the insurance policy is not appropriate for your situation.
You presumably already have flood, fire, and vandalism insurance for your building. It’s so common that your mortgage provider will insist on it. When you’re living in the house, that is. Insurance companies believe the chance of damage to your property increases when you leave for months at a time.
There is no one checking on the property on a regular basis to ensure that the pipes do not freeze, or the electrics do not short. When your home is vacant for weeks at a time, it becomes an ideal target for criminals who will not be bothered if they break-in. All the nice items in your home could be targeted for theft or vandalism.
Before purchasing a policy, check the policy documents to ensure that these risks are covered. Unoccupied home insurance might be more expensive than standard coverage owing to the additional risks.
Unoccupied Home Insurance Requirements
You must ensure that your property fits the following conditions to ensure that your insurance coverage is valid:
- A Well-Maintained Appearance – To avoid advertising that the property is vacant, most unoccupied policies will require that it be kept in a specific state of condition on the outside. This means that the front gardens should be properly maintained, the paint and walls should not be in poor condition, and the windows should not be boarded.
- Regular Inspections – The property must be visited once every seven days, which is a normal requirement on most empty policies. A friend, relative, or managing agency can pay a visit to the property instead of the policyholder or owner. The rationale for this is that the property’s visible parts must be maintained, and the property should not appear to be vacant.
- Security Measures – This is your first and last line of defense in an unoccupied property because there is no one on the premises, it is more vulnerable to criminal damage, break-ins, and squatters.
Length of Cover
If you leave your home empty for longer than your typical policy allows, you’ll need unoccupied home insurance. Standard home insurance policies normally cover an empty house for 30 or 60 days, but this can vary depending on your policy.
Unoccupied home insurance, unlike normal home insurance, will cover a vacant property for three, six, nine, or twelve months, with the option to extend if necessary.
If you require coverage for a period longer than 12 months, you can obtain estimates for a new policy near the conclusion of your current policy’s term.
How Much Does Unoccupied House Insurance Cost?
Unoccupied property insurance can be more expensive in some cases, but not always because insurers perceive houses that don’t have someone visiting them every day to be a higher risk.
What Does Unoccupied Insurance Not Cover?
Empty house insurance policies typically have a few exceptions, and some may not cover:
- Damage made by contractors – They should be covered by their own insurance policy. Damage to the property because of renovations or extensions. If you’re doing any construction work, you’ll need to notify your insurer.
- Unforced entry – Any theft or damage claims may be denied if the windows or doors are not secured.
- Major projects – Some insurers may even refuse to cover mishaps that occur during substantial house improvements, such as an addition or structural repairs.
How Long Can You Leave a House Empty for Insurance?
If you leave a property empty for more than 30 days in a row, most standard home insurance policies will not cover you.
What if You Fail to Tell Your Provider Your Home Is Unoccupied?
If you need to make a claim and fail to notify your provider that your house has been unoccupied for longer than the time specified in your policy specifications, your policy may be voided.
To add it all up:
If you have had an empty house or flat for more than 30 days in a row, you might think about getting unoccupied home insurance. Thieves may see an unoccupied property as an easy target. Furthermore, if the property is damaged by fire or water while no one is living there, a normal home insurance policy may not cover it.
If you know your home will be vacant for an extended period, it’s a good idea to look into unoccupied home insurance.