Nice House On A Lake

A Guide To Vacant Home Insurance

Lauren Nowacki4-minute read

March 29, 2021

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A vacant property differs from a lived-in one in several ways. With its empty rooms and corners collecting dust, it most likely feels more like a house than a home. But despite its differences, it’s still a place that can be filled with new life, new things and new memories. It’s still a place that needs to be protected – if not for its own potential, then for the potential hit to your finances should any damage happen to the property.

If you own a vacant home now or plan to leave a home vacant in the future, consider vacant home insurance to help protect your property and provide you peace of mind.

What Is Vacant Home Insurance?

Vacant home insurance is specialty home insurance coverage for properties that are uninhabited or considered vacant homes.

A vacant home is a property that is empty and not in use for a significant amount of time. It doesn’t always mean it’s abandoned or boarded up. It simply means it is unoccupied and clear of personal property. The home could be vacant because it’s up for sale and the sellers have already moved. It could be a home that’s only used for a few months out of the year or a home that is currently undergoing renovations. Keep in mind, a vacant home and an unoccupied home are different. An unoccupied home may only be out of use for a short period of time and personal property typically remains in the home, even when no one is there.

Typical homeowners insurance policies do not cover most claims on a vacant property because they often have vacancy clauses, which restrict or exclude coverage on properties that have been vacant for a certain time – usually 30 or 60 days. Since vacant homes are often more vulnerable to things like theft, vandalism and other damage, insurance companies would rather not take on the risk (and additional expense) by allowing coverage within the typical homeowners insurance policy.

What Does Vacant Home Insurance Cover?

Vacant home insurance covers many of the same things a standard homeowners insurance policy does – just under different circumstances. Your plan may cover you from loss or damage caused by:

  • Lightning
  • Hail
  • Wind
  • Fire
  • Smoke
  • Explosion
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Leaking pipes

 

What’s actually covered and for how long will depend on the insurance company and the policy you choose. When getting vacant home insurance, make sure you review your insurance company’s specific protections for this type of insurance.

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Why Does Vacant Home Insurance Matter?

Vacant homes are a greater insurance risk because, without someone there to watch over the property, the home is more vulnerable to break-ins and vandalism. And because there is no one there to discover water or report a fire early on, the home may incur more damage from things like a burst pipe, fire or natural disaster because early intervention was not possible.

How Do I Purchase Vacant House Insurance?

The first thing you’ll want to do is find out how long your home can sit unoccupied before it is considered vacant, then determine if you need vacant house insurance. Remember, you’ll always want to be honest with your insurance company about the status of your property.

If you need vacant home insurance, start by asking your insurance provider how they handle this type of coverage. While some allow you to add coverage to an existing policy, others require a completely separate policy. Once you talk to your current provider, don’t be afraid to shop around for the best coverage and price. When comparing companies, don’t just think about monthly costs. Consider other factors, like deductibles and coverage limits.

Once you know which provider you’re using, gather up the documents you’ll likely need to apply for coverage. These may include a government-issued ID and proof that you own the property. You may also need to provide the estimated value of the home and estimated amount of time it may sit vacant.

What’s The Average Cost Of A Vacant Home Insurance Policy?

The cost of vacant home insurance policies varies based on the insurance company, the policy you choose and the home’s risk profile. Because unoccupied and vacant homes often pose a greater risk, vacant home insurance is expensive — averaging about 1.5 to 3 times more than a standard insurance policy for an occupied home, according to insurance.com. Of course, this is for an annual plan. If the home doesn’t sit vacant for long, the annual cost may be prorated. Some companies may also allow you to purchase shorter-term policies.

Should I Get Vacant House Insurance?

When deciding whether you should get vacant house insurance, consider the length of time the home will be unattended. If you plan on leaving the home vacant for at least 30 days – or longer than the number of days your current insurance policy allows – you should strongly consider vacant home insurance. This type of insurance can be especially important when you’re trying to sell the home or rent it out or when you’re having the home renovated.

The Bottom Line: Better Safe Than Sorry

If you plan on leaving a home vacant for more than 30 days – whether it’s a vacation home, an investment property or a renovation project – you should consider purchasing vacant home insurance. Since the home could be more susceptible to theft, vandalism or physical damage, this type of insurance can provide peace of mind and protect your finances should something happen while no one is living there.

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Lauren Nowacki

Lauren Nowacki is a staff writer specializing in personal finance, homeownership and the mortgage industry. She has a B.A. in Communications and has worked as a writer and editor for various publications in Philadelphia, Chicago and Metro Detroit.