With so many homes staying unsold on the market for longer than normal, a growing number of homeowners find themselves needing vacant property insurance. Vacant homes are targets for malicious damage from vandals, attractive to thieves who steal copper wiring and expensive fixtures, and quickly colonized by vermin. A clogged drain can back-up, a pipe can burst, a roof can leak and with nobody there to fix the problem, it can rapidly escalate into a major issue. Most basic homeowner insurance policies typically cover a vacant home for 30 days. But if your home is left vacant longer than that, your policy may stipulate automatic suspension of coverage. The last thing you need is to be on the hook for the mortgage on a home you no longer occupy.
From the insurance company’s point of view, a vacant house is different from an unoccupied house. A vacant home is empty of possessions associated with occupancy, while an unoccupied house is essentially just missing (temporarily) people. By the way, if you’re renting your property or employing a housesitter for a prolonged period of time to maintain its occupied status, check with your insurance company to see how this impacts your homeowners’ policy.
Vacant property insurance usually doesn’t provide the same level of coverage that your basic homeowner policy offers. Often, it only covers liabillity with little if any coverage for the structure in the event of fire or other disaster. The policies are also sold on a short term basis – 3 to 12 months usually – and your insurer may opt to not renew the policy if the house remains vacant after the policy term ends.
Vacant property insurance is not cheap. Premiums on a typical policy can be twice what you pay for basic homeowners insurance. These policies usually provide less actual cash value coverage, too. But considering the alternative, they may well be an expense you can’t afford not to have. If your home has a qualifying alarm system, that may help you find more reasonable rates. Increasing the deductible will help bring costs down, too. And if you have other policies with the same provider, you may qualify for discounts on the vacant property insurance. This is another instance when shopping for the best vacant property insurance quotes may result in big savings.