Is your home technically “unoccupied” or “vacant” in the eyes of your insurance company? It could be without you knowing it.
Even though homeowners do not commonly understand these terms, they are extremely important when it comes to home insurance and making sure you are covered — especially if you have a second home or if you plan on being out of town for a long period of time.
In the following article, you’ll learn what both of these terms mean and what you should know about them to avoid problems with home insurance claims you may need to make.
Vacant Homes Defined
Homes are considered vacant when they are not livable. Essentially, if the home is vacant, utilities are shut off, and no furniture or other belongings are present.
There are two main problems with vacant homes and homeowners insurance. First, vacant homes are likely to be vandalized, and glass is likely to be broken – whether that be by vandals or from natural causes. Unfortunately, both evangelization and broken glass are damage categories that insurance companies do not like to cover.
This means that if you want to ensure homeowners coverage for a vacant home, you are going to have a hard time finding an insurance company to provide you with a policy. It is possible to find an insurance company willing to ensure a vacant home, but you should expect higher prices.
Unoccupied Homes Defined
Unoccupied homes are different from vacant homes because they are technically livable. Utilities are turned on, and someone could ostensibly move in at any given time. For many homeowners, this makes things even more complicated.
That’s because a home can be deemed unoccupied even when it’s your primary residence and you have every intention of living there but you are on vacation, away for a long-duration medical treatment, or otherwise gone for an extended period of time.
Most often, insurance companies will consider a home unoccupied when no one is living there for 60 days or more but always check with your insurance company directly. In rare cases, insurance companies will consider a home unoccupied when no one lives there for 30 days or more. Remember that if your home is deemed unoccupied by your insurance company, if you make a claim, it will likely be denied.
Seasonal Homes Defined
Lastly, let’s take a look at seasonal homes, which differ from both vacant and unoccupied homes slightly. The general rule here is that you need to know if your seasonal home is insured or not. Many homeowners assume that their vacation or seasonal homes are insured via their primary residence homeowners insurance, but this isn’t always true.
Again, you need to take a look at your policy directly and speak one-on-one with your insurance company. Only a knowledgeable agent will be able to tell you whether your primary homeowner’s insurance covers your seasonal home. If it is not, you should consider purchasing a secondary insurance policy to cover your seasonal home. It is important that none of your homes be left uninsured or you may lose up to hundreds of thousands of dollars from lack of coverage or denied claims.
How to Reduce the Risk of Insurance Problems With Unattended Homes
Every homeowner should be aware of what it means to have an unattended home (vacant or unoccupied). Still, these concepts can be difficult to fully grasp without talking to a licensed insurance agent yourself.
For this reason, we recommend speaking directly with your licensed insurance agency if you have questions or concerns relating to this topic. AFI Insurance would be happy to answer any of your insurance inquiries. Call or stop in to see us today.