In the following article, we will discuss what it means to have a home that is considered vacant or unoccupied. Many homeowners are unaware of vacancy and unoccupied home coverage restrictions that may be built into their homeowner’s insurance policies. That is if you have a home that you assume is covered but that is left vacant or unoccupied, the home may not be covered.
Why Don’t Insurance Companies Want to Insure Unattended Homes?
When no one is living in a home, it is more expensive to insure. Why? The answer lies in the risks that are taken when you leave a home unattended (no one is living there). Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say that you have a second home that is left vacant. It’s an old home that you hope to renovate someday, but right now, the utilities are shut off, and no one is living in the home, so there is no furniture inside. Like any home, there is a chance that an accident could occur here. If a lightning strike caused the filing of a large tree branch onto the roof of the home, for example, it would cause severe damage.
But such an occurrence would be much more severe in a vacant or unoccupied home than it would in a home that is occupied by homeowners. Why? Often, accidents like these happen and no one notices for many weeks or even months. And when this happens, subsequent damage is inevitable. In the case of the fallen tree onto the roof, water damage and flooding could occur, which could cause mold and mildew problems. Pests and animals could get inside the home, and vandals could gain access as well.
Vandalism and glass damage are two particularly common problems in vacant and unattended homes. Unfortunately, these are also damage types that insurance companies will rarely provide coverage for.
How Do You Know if Your Home Is Considered “Vacant” or “Unoccupied”?
These two terms may sound like the same thing, but they are actually quite different. According to insurance agencies, vacant homes are those that are completely unlivable. Water and electricity are shut off, and there is not enough furniture inside the home for someone to live there.
Alternatively, unoccupied homes are livable, and the utilities are generally left on. Still, no one inhabits the home for at least 60 days or more. This time period will vary however, so it’s a good idea to check with your insurance agency directly to see how long a home needs to be vacant (by owners) before it is considered unoccupied. Some insurance companies will consider a home unoccupied if it is vacant for just 30 days.
As you can see, this could cause problems for individuals who may have simply left their home because of an extended vacation or time spent in a secondary seasonal home.
Speaking of seasonal homes, you should also speak to your insurance company if you have a secondary vacation or seasonal home as well. Although you may think that your primary residence insurance policy covers this home, it may not be, and you may need to purchase a secondary policy.
Speak to a Licensed Insurance Agency if You Have Questions
G&L Insurance is always here to answer any questions you may have relating to unoccupied homes, vacant homes, or vacation homes. It is always wise to speak directly with a licensed insurance company to know for sure whether your policy covers these types of homes. Stop by and see us today or give us a call.