Did you know that if you leave your home unattended for an extended period of time, your homeowner’s insurance policy will probably not cover you if unexpected damage occurs during that time?
In fact, many homeowners are unaware of this. And unfortunately, accidents and unexpected events can and do happen. Lightning strikes, vandals may realize you’re not home, or other weather events may cause damage in or on your property.
If you have a home that is vacant, unoccupied, or seasonal, it’s important to know how to insure it. Below, we’ll outline the technical definitions of each of these home types and discuss how you can make sure your homes are safe from un-claimable damage.
The 3 Types of Unattended Homes
- Unoccupied Homes
It’s important to remember that “unoccupied homes” and “vacant homes” are different — technically speaking. In other words, your insurance providers will consider them differently when it comes to your policy.
Unoccupied homes will look as if you, the homeowner, might return at any time. Your personal property (furniture, clothes, books, kitchen appliances, etc.) will all be in place in the home. However, you and the rest of your family will be nowhere in sight.
Unoccupied homes are often unoccupied because the homeowners are traveling (perhaps to a second vacation home), receiving extensive medical treatment, or renovating another part of the home.
When it comes to insurance and unoccupied homes, just because all of your belongings are still there, does not mean that your homeowner’s policy will always cover you. In fact, after being gone 60 days — or sometimes 30 days — your insurance may decide that your policy is void.
That’s because your homeowner’s policy is based on your home is occupied. When it’s unoccupied, there are more chances that problems like vandals, weather-related damage, or theft will occur.
- Vacant Homes
Like unoccupied homes, vacant homes also have problems when they are left for more than 60 days. But first, let’s define what “vacant” means.
A vacant home is one that is left for more than 60 days, and all (or nearly all) of the homeowner’s belongings have been removed. In other words, the home is no longer livable. Utilities like water and electricity may have been shut off as well.
Insuring a vacant home is difficult. Insurance companies assume that these homes will be extremely difficult to insure because there are many risks — including theft, vandalism, and weather-related events. For this reason, they will often charge high prices for vacant home insurance. Some insurance companies will not insure vacant homes as well.
- Seasonal Homes
Lastly, seasonal homes are different from both unoccupied homes and vacant homes. These dwellings are typically left unoccupied for some of the year, so you’ll need to make sure they’re covered either under your main (first) home’s policy, or you’ll need to get a new policy for this home.
It’s important not to assume that you have coverage through your initial home insurance, however. For example, if you had a vacation home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a tree fell on it during a storm, you might go to make a claim and be dumbfounded that it was denied — because of vacancy.
Speak to Your Insurance Company About Unattended Home Insurance
As you can see, navigating insurance when it comes to unattended homes can be extremely difficult and confusing. Furthermore, all insurance companies are different and will have varying policies regarding how long they’ll cover a home where no one is living.
Terp Family Insurance is happy to help you navigate your home insurance. It’s best to speak directly with a home insurance company like Terp Family Insurance so that you can get the facts right the first time around. Call or stop by today for more information.