Vacant Home Insurance: Here’s What You Need to Know
When your house is left empty for about 60 days or more, it can be considered as “vacant” or “unoccupied.” If you abandoned your home for a few weeks to go on a vacation or for other personal reasons, there’s a possibility that your homeowner’s insurance coverage would be voided. This is because unoccupied or vacant houses face a much higher risk for weather-related perils, theft, fire, and vandalism, but your homeowners’ policy premium is founded on a lower-risk situation wherein your house is occupied. To prevent your home insurance from being voided, talk to your insurer before you leave for a long period so you’ll be eligible for vacant home insurance coverage.
How Much Does Vacant Home Insurance Cost?
Premium costs and coverage limits for vacant homes vary according to the period the property will be empty, its vacant status, and the safety measures you want to take to secure it. For instance, vacant home insurance might cost less than $100, including an endorsement or permit. If you don’t have this vacant property insurance or empty house insurance, any damages that might happen while you are not at home won’t be covered.
Is Vacant Home Insurance More Expensive?
Expect that vacant home insurance to be more expensive than basic insurance for vacant properties. Usually, the average cost of insurance for vacant homes is 50% more than the basic home insurance. With the basic homeowner insurance rate priced at around $1 228 per year, this means that vacant property insurance will cost around $1 842 per year. However, the most expensive rate applies to annual coverage. Many properties don’t remain vacant for the whole year, and most insurers understand this. Thus they allow you to prorate the annual price and pay only for the necessary period of up to 60 days. Vacant property insurance can be tricky, so make sure you ask the right people about it.
What is the Difference Between Vacant and Unoccupied Property?
Insurance companies have different definitions and criteria for issuing property insurance unoccupied coverage:
- Vacant home – when the property is empty and it doesn’t have any personal belongings inside.
- Unoccupied home – when the property is left empty, but the owners will still return any time.
Vacant land insurance companies have several rules on how long a house can remain unoccupied before the insurance is voided or an endorsement is needed. This is because when a residential property is empty, it is at higher risk for property damages. For instance, if the roof springs a leak or the plumbing backs up, more damage can happen since no one is around the house to turn off the water or contact an emergency repair service.
On the other hand, vacant homes are more difficult and expensive to insure. It will either require a freestanding policy or an endorsement, depending on the insurance company requirements. However, there are also insurance companies that don’t offer insurance for vacant homes. Furthermore, coverage limits for a vacant house are lower than basic home insurance since it only covers regular perils like wind or fire, and it won’t shoulder risks including water damage caused by frozen or broken pipes, vandalism, or glass and window breakage.
Can I Insure a Vacant Home?
It’s generally not considered a good idea to pretend that your vacant home is still occupied. Most importantly, it would be best if you didn’t lie to your insurer when you are in the process of purchasing homeowners insurance since it is grounds for repudiating a claim and could lead to the cancellation of your entire policy. Take note that it’s easy for an insurance company to determine if the property damage that you are claiming happened since no one was there in your house.
Think about this: How would you explain the vandalized living room or the small water leak that transforms your basement into a swimming pool? If you forget to update your insurer that your home is vacant and they decline or cancel to refurbish your policy, expect that your latest homeowners policy would be even more costly than the previous one.
In line with this, you should also make sure you purchase vacant home insurance for your personal property. Home insurance companies will usually require you to talk to them and ask for an endorsement or special permit for a property that will be empty for 30 to 60 consecutive days. Make sure that the time limit is written on the vacancy clause of your policy. In several cases, you might be asked to pay for the endorsement or permit. If you always divide your time between your primary and vacation home, you might want to select a plan that covers both of your properties when you are not around.
How to Save Money on Vacant Home Insurance
You can hire a house sitter to look after your empty home to lower the costs of your vacant home insurance policy. However, each insurance company views house sitters differently. Some consider your effort of hiring a house sitter while others don’t accept it since they focus on the fact that the house is unoccupied by the owner.
The most effective way to cut down insurance costs when you are searching for coverage limits on a vacant home or purchasing a homeowners’ insurance standard policy is to conduct comparison shopping. The thing about insurance companies is they utilize different formulas when they provide a quote, thus the price greatly varies among different insurers.
You should also consider the type of home insurance when you are selling your property. It can be useful to cover any damage prior to the sale of the property.
How Do I Purchase Vacant Home Insurance?
Here are a few useful tips when purchasing insurance for vacant homes.
Compare Different Vacant Home Insurance Policy Prices
It’s always a good idea to begin by asking your present home insurance company if they provide vacant home endorsements for your underlying policy. Several insurers will require this, but others ask for another policy. If you are buying the latest policy, compare at least three vacant property insurance companies, then base your decision on the company’s reputation, cost of the insurance, coverage offered, and aspects where they provide coverage.
Take time to examine and review the entire coverage quote offered by different insurance underwriters to see to it that you are comparing similar coverages. For example, one insurer may only provide actual money value replacement on the damaged structure, while the other may provide a full replacement cost coverage.
Choose the Best Policy
Select your vacant home insurance provider according to the coverage they provide, the cost of the vacant home insurance, and if it offers coverage in your target aspects. Business owners should consider whether the property is personal or owned by the business.
Apply for Vacant Home Insurance at Your Chosen Insurer
When you’ve decided which vacant home insurance company want to apply for, you need to have the following documents to kick off your application for vacant home insurance:
- Proof of ownership to the property: Settlement sheet or deed.
- Identification: passport or driver’s license.
- Insurance policy: previous policies if you have insurance for this property with another provider in the past.
- Property value: it can be an estimate or appraisal of your home value that you calculated on your own.
- Vacancy period: your chosen insurance company would like to know how long the house will remain unoccupied or vacant and when you will return; proof required might be in the form of a lease.
Many home insurance companies offer vacant or unoccupied home insurance. Suppose you are going away for a particular period. In that case, vacant home insurance is definitely something you should consider because the coverage will help you shoulder potential property damage while you are away.
Are you also an owner of a commercial property? If so, you might be interested in finding out more about the best insurance options for your commercial property.
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