Owning a home that no one lives in can pose a high risk for you. What you may not realize is your home insurance policy may not cover the property if no one is living in it for some time – and that could be as short as just 30 days. At Patriot Insurance, a key part of our goal is to make sure you know where your coverage starts and ends – and for vacant, unoccupied, or seasonal homes, it may not be what you think.
What Is a Vacant Home?
A vacant home is one no one lives in and cannot live in immediately. Furniture is not usually present, and the utilities are not generally on. Your existing home insurance policy may only cover vacant homes for 30 days – sometimes less. If you do not let your home insurance company know that the home is vacant, the policy could be void. Most home insurance companies do not provide vacant home coverage.
Here’s why. These homes pose a very high risk. Being vacant, they are targets for vandalism. Imagine a neighborhood teenager breaking into the home, doing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage, and even setting the property on fire. These are very real risks. And, if the insurer does not know the home was vacant at the time of the incident, it may not cover any of this damage.
What Is an Unoccupied Home?
Unoccupied homes are a bit different. These properties are ones you left but plan to come back to, such as living out of state for a few weeks or having a medical emergency. Your existing home insurance policy may cover this home for 30 to 60 days – but again, only if they know about it.
Unoccupied homes are just as at risk as vacant homes. Here’s an example. You are in a car accident, spend the next few weeks in the hospital and then in a rehabilitation location. You are not in the home day to day for six weeks. During this time, someone could break into the home, steal your valuables, and no one would know about it for some time. Be sure your home insurance agent knows that the property is unoccupied so your policy can reflect this.
What About a Seasonal Home?
Seasonal homes are a bit different. Sometimes, you can add this type of home to your existing primary residence insurance. Other times, you need to obtain a policy for the structure itself. In all situations, you must communicate with your insurer how often you use the home, if it is vacant when you do not live there, and if you rent it out. This can change the type and amount of coverage you need.
Working with a Licensed Insurance Agent Is Critical
The only way to minimize these risks is to work with a licensed insurance agent at Patriot Insurance that knows and understands how you are using the property. These are complex situations – and they can go on for some time. However, proper coverage is essential. Perhaps the most common mistake people make here is believing their existing home insurance policy is enough to cover these properties when not in use. In most cases, home insurance does not cover vacant homes – and it may only cover unoccupied homes for a short period of time.
However, a licensed insurance agent like those from Patriot Insurance can help you to find the policy right for your needs. Talk to us about those needs and any concerns you have about your home, property, or living arrangements.