Most of the time, the majority of homeowners will never have to deal with vacancy or inoccupancy. Both are insurance topics that generally don’t matter until something happens like a fire or a flood. At this point, both the vacancy and inoccupancy can be serious problems for homeowners, but we’ll get into that later.
To help you avoid issues related to vacancy or inoccupancy, we’ve provided a general explanation article to explain what a technically “vacant” or technically “unoccupied” home is and how to avoid these situations or at least avoid gaps in coverage.
What Is an Unoccupied or Vacant Home?
Insurance companies use two terms to define homes where no one is living: unoccupied and vacant. They sound the same, but insurance companies consider them in different ways.
First, unoccupied homes are those where no one lives, but someone could live there if they wanted to. In other words, the utilities are turned on, appliances are ready to work, and there’s enough furniture inside for someone to sleep, eat, and generally live, but no one is currently living there.
The next question you probably have is: “How long does someone have to be not living in their home for it to be considered unoccupied?”
This is a great question! Unfortunately, it’s different for every insurance company.
Generally speaking, you have not to be living in a “livable home” for at least 30 or 60 days for the home to be deemed unoccupied. Always speak directly with your insurance agency to know what their time limit is for inoccupancy. Most agencies will put the limit at 60 days, but some agencies put the cut-off at 30 days, which can cause serious problems for homeowners who travel, especially.
Vacant homes are slightly different than unoccupied homes because no one could technically live in a vacant home. Why? Vacant homes are considered those that do not have adequate furniture and working appliances in them for living. Utilities are shut off in vacant homes (electricity, water, Internet, phone, etc.), and of course, no one is living there.
If you have an active insurance policy on a home that goes vacant, as soon as your insurance agency realizes it is vacant, they will likely void your policy.
Why Do Insurance Agencies Void Policies on Unoccupied and Vacant Homes?
There are several big problems with unoccupied and vacant homes. For vacant homes, for example, glass breakage is common and so is vandalism. Because most insurance companies cover neither of these damage types, it’s unlikely any one of them will want to offer coverage for a vacant home.
The same goes for unoccupied homes; however, some insurance agencies will be more likely to insure unoccupied homes because they’re slightly less of a risk. Remember to ask your insurance agent about their rules concerning how long a house can be unoccupied before the insurance is canceled.
If you have a homeowners insurance policy for your permanent residence and you also have a seasonal home, speak to your insurance provider about whether your policy covers your seasonal home. You’re good to go if it does, but if not, you’ll need a second policy for your second home.
Have Questions? Ask an Agent
We understand that this topic is extremely confusing for many homeowners, which is why we recommend going straight to a licensed insurance agent for answers.
Philleo Agency Insurance is here to answer any of your questions and concerns. Stop by today, or give us a call.