Although home insurance is not legally required, every house should be covered by an insurance policy. That includes homes that are vacant or unoccupied. If you own a vacation property or travel for months at a time, you should consider purchasing vacant home insurance. Keep reading to learn what vacant home insurance covers, who needs it and how to buy a policy.
What is vacant home insurance?
Vacant home insurance is a type of property insurance that specifically covers homes that are not being lived in. Standard home insurance policies usually do not cover homes that are left vacant for long periods of time. If something happens to your home while it is vacant, only vacant home insurance will cover it.
Homeowners who own a vacant home need a special type of insurance because vacant homes pose more risk than occupied homes. For example, a home that is not being lived in is more likely to get broken into. Additionally, during a weather event such as a hail storm or hurricane, there is no homeowner to assess the damage and make temporary repairs.
Vacant home insurance is either sold as a standalone policy or as an endorsement that is added to your homeowners insurance. If you are able to purchase a standalone policy, you do not need to have regular homeowners insurance in addition.
Every property insurance company treats vacant home insurance differently. Typically, it only covers the physical structure of your home against common perils like fire, wind, freezing, theft and vandalism. It also covers your liabilities as a homeowner.
Keep in mind that not every vacant home insurance policy covers personal property from theft or damage. Vacant home insurance endorsements usually include coverage for personal belongings, but a standalone vacant home insurance policy might not.
Who needs vacant home insurance?
People who regularly leave their homes vacant for more than one month at a time should consider purchasing vacant home insurance. However, every insurance company defines vacant differently and the exact length of time could vary. You may need vacant home insurance if you:
- Own a seasonal or vacation home that you visit infrequently
- Recently bought a new home and are moving in several months
- Travel frequently for work
- Are selling your home and the personal property has been removed
- Are remodeling your home and are moving out during construction
- Rent a home and currently do not have a tenant
- Need to receive medical treatment in a hospital for more than one month
For homeowners who fully own their property, vacant home insurance is optional. But if you have a mortgage on your vacant home, your lender may require you to purchase vacant home insurance. Ask your mortgage lender about their insurance requirements to make sure you have the correct coverage.
How to buy vacant home insurance
Buying vacant home insurance is similar to buying regular home insurance. You might be able to purchase a standalone policy or endorsement through your existing homeowners insurance company. Here are the steps you should take to buy empty house insurance:
The first step in buying vacant home insurance is to find the right carrier for you. Check to see if your home insurance provider offers an endorsement or standalone policy. If so, you might qualify for a policy bundling discount. If you want to buy a separate policy, shop around for providers that offer vacant home coverage in your state. Pay special attention to the coverage options, add-ons and discounts.
The next step is to get quotes from the companies you researched. For the most accurate rate estimate, call an agent and explain your situation. They can recommend an appropriate amount of coverage, help you choose your policy limits and see if you qualify for any discounts. Get quotes from a few different companies if possible so you can compare them and see which company is offering the lowest price.
Sign a policy
The last step is to sign a policy and start your coverage. If you have an existing homeowners insurance policy, make sure the new vacant home insurance policy or endorsement overlaps several days with the old policy. If you have a mortgage on your home, send the updated insurance information to your lender as soon as possible.
Differences between vacant home and unoccupied home insurance
Most insurance companies do not sell separate vacant home insurance and unoccupied home insurance policies. Whether you have a vacant home or an unoccupied home, they are covered under the same type of policy.
However, insurance companies define vacant homes and unoccupied homes differently. Generally speaking, vacant homes are ones that contain personal property, furniture and have active utilities. Unoccupied homes are ones that are completely empty inside.
When you purchase a vacant home insurance policy, the insurance provider will determine if you have a vacant home or an unoccupied home. Vacant homes pose more risk than occupied homes, so it is possible that insuring a vacant home could be more expensive.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best home insurance company?
There are dozens of home insurance companies on the market, but which one is best depends on your needs. Some companies are better for affordable rates and others are good for discounts or customizable coverage. The best home insurance company for you is not necessarily the best option for your neighbor.
Can you get insurance for an unoccupied house?
Yes, you can purchase insurance for an unoccupied home. Most insurance companies define unoccupied homes as properties that do not have any personal property or furniture inside. Unoccupied homes are usually covered under vacant home insurance policies or endorsements.
How much does vacant home insurance cost?
The cost of vacant home insurance depends on many factors. Your age, claims history, credit score, the size of the home and where the home is located all affect your premium. However, keep in mind that vacant home insurance will probably cost more than regular home insurance, due to the added risk. Shopping around for quotes will ensure you are getting the lowest rate.