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Is Unoccupied or Vacant Home Insurance Needed?

June 22, 2022


If you are leaving your home for an extended period, or your home is sitting vacant, it may not be consider protected under your existing homeowners policy, therefore, it may require unoccupied or vacant home insurance during the period when nobody is living there.

Scenarios where unoccupied or vacant home insurance might be required include:

  • You purchased a home but won’t move in for several weeks or months
  • You are selling a home, but have moved out and it will sit empty for a period of time
  • You own a vacation home, but only visit a few times a year
  • You travel for extended period of time
  • You are remodeling or renovating a home and won’t live there during construction
  • You will be recovering in the hospital or a rehab center for weeks
  • Your home is for rent and between tenants

Greater Insurance Risk for an Unoccupied or Vacant Home

A property that is not occupied presents a greater insurance risk than an occupied home. A fire could occur and not be reported immediately, thus creating more extensive damage, and an unoccupied or vacant home is more susceptible to break-ins, for example.

Your normal homeowner’s policy may not provide coverage if the event requiring a claim, like a fire, vandalism, or water backup, occurs during the time when the property is unoccupied or vacant for a specific period—30 days with some insurance companies. Any damage or losses incurred during that time would have to be paid out of pocket.

The Difference Between an Unoccupied or Vacant Home

A home is considered unoccupied when the occupants are absent for a period of time, with the intention of returning there to live, as when homeowners are away on vacation or a work assignment. Furniture and belongings remain in place, ready for the occupants to return and resume living there.

A home is considered vacant when the homeowners are not expected to return to the home to live there again. Personal property has been removed. It can occur when the homeowners purchase a new home and leave the old one vacant until the new owners move in.

Unoccupied and Vacant Home Insurance

If you are planning an extended absence, you may want to look into unoccupied and vacant home insurance products, or an endorsement add-on to your existing homeowners policy.

Normally, you would purchase unoccupied or vacant home insurance through your existing insurer.  But be prepared for the cost—it could be up to 50% higher than your regular home insurance policy. There may also be clauses that require you to maintain the home and grounds, keep the utilities connected, and have someone inspect the home periodically.

Unoccupied and Vacant Home Insurance Examples

Farmers Insurance offers several options for coverage:

  • Vandalism and malicious mischief coverage—coverage help if someone intentionally damages your home.
  • Full-year policy coverage—with flexible payment options, prorated cancellation if your home is occupied before the year is up.
  • Landlord policy—covers the time between tenants

State Farm offers an endorsement to the regular homeowners insurance policy that is valid for six months of coverage, and covers vandalism and glass breakage.

Are Discounts Available?

 There is no set rule on discounts, but having security measures like an alarm system could save you money. Discuss your options with your insurance agent.

Related: 3 Ways to Save on Your Policy

Golden Rule Home Watch Offers Protection While Your Home is Unoccupied or Vacant

If you live or own a business in Northern Virginia, you can hire Golden Rule Home Watch & Concierge to watch over your property while you are not there. Whether you’re gone for a vacation, or work requires several months on the road, you’ll have peace of mind.

Since some insurance policy clauses require home maintenance and utilities continuation, and even periodic home inspections, we can provide that coverage with a variety of services. We can coordinate lawn cutting, package removal, checks of water, electrical and HVAC systems on your behalf. This helps to keep your home looking occupied and thwart risks.

We set a schedule of visits and conduct our multi-point inspection on the assigned dates. You receive a detailed report after each visit to your property. If we find a problem or potential problem, you are notified immediately and offered our help with remediation, if necessary. Contact Golden Rule to learn more or to schedule your Home Watch.