If you have a vacant, unoccupied, or seasonal home, updating and managing your home’s insurance policy is critical. Nearly all insurers have very specific rules with regards to vacancy. When a home is unoccupied for any length of time, it is at a high risk for theft, vandalism, and arson. As a result, it is a higher risk to an insurer. While some companies may provide some coverage, others will not.
What You Need to Do
If you have a home that has become vacant or unoccupied, it is important to inform your agent as soon as you stop living in that property. And, for seasonal homes or second homes, be sure your policy reflects the way you use the property (including whether or not your rent it out).
If your insurance company does not know the home is vacant, it may deny any claims you make for the property during that time. Here are a few examples:
A Vacant Home Starts on Fire
A person breaks into a vacant home because they know no one is living there. They cause damage which causes an electrical fire. The home burns.
Many home insurance companies limit coverage for vacant homes to no more than 30 days. After this point, they may cancel or fail to renew your policy. In fact, very few insurance companies offer vacant home insurance. If a claim occurs when the home is vacant, some insurers will not provide coverage unless they know that:
- The home was not vacant beyond the limitations of the policy (generally 30 days)
- The insurance agent was informed of the vacancy in advance.
If you move out, inherit a home, or just leave the home vacant, you must maintain proper coverage.
An Unoccupied Home Suffers Theft
Unoccupied homes are those without anyone living in them, but home furnishings are present. For example, if a home in Mesa was robbed after theves learned the owners were on a six-week vacation overseas. In this case, the homeowner could be denied coverage due to their home being unoccupied beyond 30 days. While this may be unlikely, policies can be updated to match your needs if you discuss your plans with your agent in advance.
Seasonal Homes Lack Coverage
A seasonal home has insurance coverage if it is designed for the way you actually use the home. For example, if a property owner of a seasonal home outside of Mesa rents to tourists in the off-season, he or she may lack coverage as it was not insured as being a rental property. If visitors cause damage to the property, the owner may find themselves without coverage.
A simple fix here is to be upfront with your agent as they can make sure your policy matches the way the property is used on a consistent basis. This includes how often you use it, how often is is unoccupied or vacant, and if you rent it to others from time-to-time.
Ask a Trusted Agent for Help
By far the most important step you can take as a property owner is to work with a licensed home insurance agent at Imes & Associates who can create a well-rounded, customized policy to meet your specific needs. By far this is essential to ensure your assets are properly protected.