What You Need to Know About Owning a Vacant Home

If you are planning to leave your current home empty for an extended period of time, or if you are purchasing a new home that will be vacant for a while, you may wonder if a standard homeowner's insurance policy will provide the coverage you need.


All standard homeowner's insurance policies include language that requires the covered home to be "owner-occupied." However, if the home is left vacant for 30 days (some carriers allow up to 60 days), the vacancy clause will apply, and any damage due to vandalism or malicious mischief will be excluded from coverage. At first glance, this may not seem like a serious concern. But if vandals caught your home on fire and caused extensive damage or possibly a total loss, the insurance company may determine that the cause of loss is vandalism and not fire, which could result in an uncovered loss.


Defining "Vacant"

It is important to note that there is a significant difference between a home that is "vacant" and a home that is "unoccupied." If a home contains furniture and is entirely livable but no one is currently occupying the property, it is an "unoccupied" home. If the home contains no furniture, fixtures, dishes, or other items required to make it livable, it is considered a "vacant" home. If your home qualifies as vacant based on this definition, a specialized insurance policy will be required to protect it. Without this type of policy, you will be leaving the property vulnerable to damage and even complete loss. 

What Is Vacant Home Insurance?

A vacant home insurance policy is designed specifically to protect homes that meet the definition of vacancy for more than 30 days at a time. If you own a vacant home, purchasing this type of insurance is essential.

Leaving a home unattended for an extended period of time leaves it vulnerable to burglars and other risks. Because the home is unattended, damages may remain undetected for a long time. Some of the most common risks associated with vacant homes include theft, vandalism, water damage due to frozen pipes or busted water lines, mold, and damages caused by rodents and insects. Because of the greater risk involved, the cost of vacant home insurance is typically much higher than a homeowner policy with less coverage.

What Does Vacant Home Insurance Cover?

Vacant home insurance will cover many of the most common risks you face when you own an empty home. Some of the incidents that may be covered by a vacant home insurance policy include:

  • Lightning
  • Hail
  • Wind
  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Malicious Mischief
  • Vandalism
  • Aircraft
  • Vehicles
  • Smoke
  • Explosion
  • Riot
  • Civil Commotion

Keep in mind that a vacant home insurance policy is a "named peril" policy. This means that the policy will only provide coverage for these specific causes of loss described in the insurance policy. For this reason, it is important to review the policy carefully, so you have a complete understanding of the coverage.

At Winter-Dent, we understand all the risks that owners of vacant homes face. If you are interested in protecting a vacant home with a customized insurance policy, we would love to help you find a product that meets your needs. Please contact us today to discuss your options or to learn more.

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