Do you own a secondary vacant property or an unoccupied home in addition to your primary residence? If so, you may not be aware that owning these types of properties comes with unique risks.
In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about vacant and unoccupied homes, and we’ll outline the best course of action to take if you plan on having these properties insured.
The Difference Between Vacant and Unoccupied Homes
If you own a second home, you may now be wondering: Is it vacant or unoccupied? These terms sound the same, but they are actually different.
First, vacant homes aren’t livable, and unoccupied homes are livable. Unoccupied homes are livable because they have enough furniture insider for someone to stay there (bed, table, chairs, etc.). Also, the electricity and water are turned on. These homes are not immensely damaged, nor do they have pest problems or any other major issues.
On the other hand, vacant homes may have some problems, and that may be why they’re unlivable. In fact, the longer a home is vacant, the more problems it is likely to have (mold, mildew, water damage, pets, etc.). Vacant homes do not have the utilities turned on (electricity, water, etc.), and they do not have furniture in them. If they do have furniture in them, it’s not enough to be of note and certainly not enough for someone to live there.
Can You Insure Vacant or Unoccupied Homes?
Unoccupied homes are slightly easier to insure than vacant homes. But both are difficult.
Why? Most of the reasoning can be traced back to damages that could arise on these properties. When no one lives in a home, if it is damaged — for example, if it were to have a tree fall on it or if flooding were to occur in the basement — no one would realize the damage for an extended period of time because no one lives there.
This is a problem for insurance companies for obvious reasons. Subsequent damage from the initial problem (a lightning strike, heavy rain, etc.) could end up costing thousands of dollars that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred if someone lived in the home.
Still, it’s possible that you may be able to find an insurance company who will provide you with insurance for a vacant and or unoccupied home. However, you need to realize that vacant homes are extremely difficult to insure because things like vandalism and glass breakage will not likely be covered.
What you should remember about unoccupied homes is that you may not realize that your home is considered unoccupied by your insurance company. This is because insurance companies often have varying “cutoff dates” for when they consider a home to be officially unoccupied. For the majority of insurance companies, this cutoff is 60 days of inoccupancy; however, some insurance companies will consider a home unoccupied when no one lives there for 30 days.
Here’s one last thing to remember: if you want a seasonal home, always check with your insurance policy to see if a seasonal home is covered within it. If it isn’t, you’ll always need a secondary policy for your seasonal home.
Avoid Coverage Gaps by Working Directly With a Licensed Insurance Agent
Still have questions about unoccupied, vacant, or seasonal homes? It’s definitely a complicated topic, and if you have concerns, even a thorough article can’t completely explain what you need to know.
For this reason, it’s best to work one-on-one with a reputable insurance agency. Integrity Insurance Agency has locations in Topeka, Lyndon & Burlington. We can help you find the best insurance policies for your primary residence as well as other homes you own, which may be unoccupied, vacant, or seasonal.
Call today or stop in to have all of your questions answered.