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Can I Get Insurance on an Unoccupied Home?

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Is there such a thing as unoccupied home insurance? This question may be on your mind if you are selling or renting a home. The short answer is yes, you can get home insurance to cover an empty house. However, there are a few things you’ll need to know.

Home Insurance for an Unoccupied Home

The biggest thing to know about insuring an unoccupied home is how long your policy will last. For standard homeowners policies, most will only cover an empty home for 30 to 60 days. If the house is empty for longer, you’ll need to look at additional coverage.

Getting Homeowners Insurance for an Unoccupied or Vacant Home

There are a few different words insurers will use to describe an empty home. The two main terms are “unoccupied” and “vacant” homes. Both can describe homes that are empty for over 30 or 60 days, there are a few key differences.

Unoccupied Homes

In unoccupied homes, the rooms usually still have the owner’s property inside. This may be because the owner is on a vacation, in the hospital, or has just inherited the property. Utilities like water and power are still accessible, and overall the house remains in a “liveable” condition.

Vacant Homes

Usually, the rooms are not furnished and the furniture is removed. The power or water may also be shut off, especially if the home is between renters or on the market. Compared with simply unoccupied homes, these pose a greater risk for insurers. 

With both vacant and unoccupied homes, you’ll need to look into additional coverage. Vacant home insurance allows you to protect empty or vacant homes.

Steps on Insuring an Empty House

Find out how long you’ll need coverage:

Many insurers sell vacant home policies within set time frames. These are usually pretty short, with policies that last three, six, or nine months.

If you’re selling your home, you’ll want to look into your local housing market. Consult with a realtor on how long it might take to sell the property. You can use that estimate to decide on a policy length.

Evaluate the condition of the building.

Many insurers will need to evaluate the building’s condition before assigning a policy. If the property’s been vacant for a while, it can be harder to get coverage. You may need to repair boarded-up windows, sagging floors, a damaged roof before you’re eligible for a policy.

Invest in security.

One of the biggest things to keep in mind is home security. Make sure you can close and lock all windows and entrances. Replace broken locks, windows, or doors so you can properly secure the building once you leave. If you need to let future tenants or buyers into the home, try out a real estate lockbox or code-activated lock. Even if you’re not on the property, these locks allow you to easily let in people without compromising security.

Keep the future in mind.

When you have a vacant home, you’re probably not hoping to keep it empty. When looking at policies, it’s best to look for something you can change in the future. This is especially true if you’re renting out your home. Try to look for a plan that easily lets you switch from a vacant home policy to landlords insurance.

Why Is an Empty Home More Expensive to Insure?

Compared with a regular home, a vacant house can be more expensive to insure. This is because insurers see it as more of a risk. Unlike a lived-in home, you’re less likely to catch accidents before they do a lot of damage. Even minor damage can become a much bigger problem if the owner doesn’t catch the problem for days or weeks.

An unoccupied or vacant home is also more likely to be robbed. Often burglars will target vacation homes or houses on the market since they’re less likely to be caught. Your home might also be a target for squatters. Avoid storing expensive items in an unoccupied home, such as electronics, jewelry, or expensive furnishings.

Increased Hazards for Vacant Homes

  • Theft
  • Burst pipes
  • Flooding
  • Damage from storms
  • Fire damage
  • Squatting or vandalism

When you have an empty home, make sure to check it regularly. This can help you identify hazards quickly, even before they become big issues. Check-ups can also discourage issues like theft, vandalism, or squatting.

If you have any questions on how to protect your property, contact an insurance representative. A representative or underwriter can get you information on different plans or riders to increase your coverage.

What to Do When You Inherit a Home

Not every vacant home is being sold or rented. If you inherit a home, it’s important to insure it as soon as you can. When the previous owner is deceased, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Home Insurance for an Unoccupied House When the Owner Is Deceased

If you’ve inherited someone’s home, the last thing on your mind will be the insurance. However, if you don’t keep up with the insurance payments, fail to notify the insurance agency, or simply leave the home uninhabited, the policy might lapse. In order to continue coverage, you’ll need to contact the home’s provider. The insurance agency will want to make sure both the policy and the property are taken care of.

Eventually, you will need a new homeowners policy. While you can continue with the previous insurer, there are also plenty of providers to choose from. Talk with different insurers to find a plan that will best fit you. If you’d like to explore different plans on your own, try an online comparison site like Versured.

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s possible to insure an empty home. However, depending on the condition of the home, it may be more expensive or more difficult to cover. 

  • Know the difference between a vacant and an uninhabited home. A vacant home is considered more high-risk and can be more expensive to insure.

  • If you inherit a home, you should be able to continue with the old insurance plan as long as you keep up with payments and inform the provider. Eventually, you will need to get a new policy under you or the inheritor’s name.
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