Many seasonal homeowners optioned to stay in their primary residence longer this year due to COVID-19 “stay at home” and “shelter in” State regulations. As a result homeowners may have inadvertently left themselves open to a significant insurance risk.
Your home may be considered “vacant” or “unoccupied” if it is left empty for 60 or more days and could potentially void your homeowner’s insurance coverage. A vacant or unoccupied home is more at risk for theft, vandalism, water and weather damages because you are not residing in the home every day. Your policy premiums are rated on the premise that you’re in residence.
What’s the difference in an unoccupied home and a vacant home? In the simplest of terms:
Unoccupied: The owners have left the property and will return at any time.
Vacant: The property is entirely empty, without personal property inside.
- If the home is immediately suitable for occupancy, it’s considered unoccupied. If a home is vacant, the owners have removed their personal property.
- If the owner’s personal property remains inside, the utilities are on and appliances are functioning it is considered unoccupied. If the utilities are off it is considered vacant.
- If you’re on vacation or in the hospital, your property is considered unoccupied.
Vacant homes pose a significantly high risk to insurers, and the premiums for vacant homes are higher because of that.
Home insurance companies typically require you to request an endorsement for a home that will be unoccupied for 30 consecutive days or more. That time limit should be stated in your policy’s vacancy clause. There may be a minimum charge for an endorsement for an unoccupied home. A vacant home policy will be more expensive. If you routinely alternate between properties you may consider purchasing endorsements for both properties.
Never misrepresent to your insurance company when you are buying homeowner’s insurance; it could be grounds for denying a claim and may result in the cancellation of your policy.
Hiring a professional Home Watch service provider may help reduce your insurance cost. If you are thinking about renting the home for a few months you should talk to your insurance provider and never assume that you will be covered.
Carefree Home Watch is a professional home watch service provider serving the greater Fort Myers area. Call Carefree at 239-234-1847 for a free in-home consultation or visit us at www.carefreehomewatch.com.
Exceptional care when you’re not there®.
Contact your insurance provider for complete information about your insurance coverage.