Vacant Home Insurance: What Is It and Do You Need It?
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Vacant home insurance provides financial protection for property that is not being lived in and doesn't have personal property stored inside. It covers explosions, fires, hail, leaking pipes, lightning, smoke, theft, vandalism and winds. You can purchase vacant home insurance either through a stand-alone plan or through an endorsement on your homeowners policy for a primary residence. The cost of a vacant home policy will vary but is typically more expensive than a standard homeowners policy.
If you’re wondering if you need vacant home insurance and why it costs more, keep reading and see which insurance companies provide this coverage at the most reasonable prices.
What Does Vacant Home Insurance Cover?
Vacant home insurance is a type of second home insurance that offers protection for dwelling structures that are unoccupied by people and property. Named perils include:
- Leaking pipes
Limits for coverage will vary from one insurance company to another. If your home is located on a floodplain you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. You can find one through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or through a private insurance provider. Additionally, you may also need to get a separate policy or insurance rider for earthquake coverage if your property is located near a fault line or in a higher-risk area.
When Should a Homeowner Consider Vacant Home Insurance?
You should consider vacant home insurance if your home or rental property is going to be empty of occupants and property for 30 days or more. Below are scenarios you should consider if you’re looking into vacant home insurance:
- Your home or rental property is being renovated - You may need vacant home insurance if your property is going through heavy renovations that preclude you from living under your roof and require your belongings to be stored elsewhere.
- Your property is being rented or sold - Vacant home insurance may be necessary if you have already moved out of your home and it’s unfurnished in anticipation of selling. It can take months for someone to purchase your home. Vacant home insurance can also cover your unfurnished rental property while you are between tenants.
- You’re house flipping - People who are in the business of buying, renovating, updating and selling homes need vacant home insurance. The property is unoccupied and unfurnished during the renovation process and is susceptible to weather, vandalism and theft while under construction.
Insurance Requirements for Vacant Homes
Insurance companies have requirements for when a home qualifies as being vacant. For instance, a home should be free of occupants for at least 30 - 60 days. The actual length will depend on your provider. Also, there are typically limits on the number of belongings allowed in the insured space in order to be considered vacant. Vacant home insurance policies will usually have more options for length of coverage because vacant homes are not intended to stay vacant forever. The timeframe for coverage is usually three, six or 12 months.
Make sure you inform your insurance provider if you intend to vacate your home for an extended period of time. Depending on the insurance company, they may offer a vacancy permit endorsement. This is an insurance rider that extends the coverage of your homeowners policy to your vacant property.
How Can You Purchase Vacant Home Insurance?
Contact your homeowners insurance agent and ask how your provider handles vacant properties. Some insurance carriers provide coverage through a separate policy. Others allow their customers to buy a vacancy permit endorsement, which is an add-on to your existing homeowners policy. If your current provider doesn’t provide either coverage, start shopping around and comparing prices. Once you’ve found a carrier who offers vacant home insurance, you will likely need to provide a few things for your coverage to begin, specifically:
- A government-issued ID
- Proof of ownership for the property being insured
- The value of your home
- Roughly how long your property will remain vacant
You may also need to purchase additional coverage depending on where you live, such as earthquake and flood insurance, which are not included in a vacant home insurance policy.
How Much Does it Cost To Insure a Vacant Home?
The cost for a vacant home insurance policy depends on a number of factors, including:
- The age of your home
- The condition of your roof
- Any renovations or updates you may have made
- Your coverage limits
- Your deductible
- Your claims history
- Your credit score
- Your location
Vacant home insurance will usually cost you more than a standard homeowners policy because there is a higher likelihood of something happening on a property that isn’t being monitored by occupants.
The cost could be as high as two or three times more than homeowners insurance. There are ways, however, to decrease the cost of your rates. Things like having carbon monoxide and smoke detectors can help as well as having a security system installed. You could also get a discounted rate if you will be having someone come by your home periodically to help maintain the property.
What Are the Best Companies For Vacant Home Insurance?
There are a number of providers that offer vacant property coverage either through a separate policy or through an endorsement. They include:
- AZ Insurance Team
- Liberty Mutual
- Vacant Express
Is There a Difference Between Vacant and Unoccupied Home Insurance?
There is a difference between vacant and unoccupied insurance. A vacant home is something that is more susceptible to adverse situations like damage from weather or theft because there isn’t someone living there. Vacant also implies that the home is completely empty or almost empty.
Unoccupied homes are free of occupants, but still maintain personal property in anticipation of the owners either returning or a new occupant moving in relatively soon.
Whether you’re in between tenants or your home will be vacant for an extended period of time, it’s wise to have the right coverage for your home. For the lowest prices on a homeowners insurance rate and to speak with the agent about a vacant home endorsement, enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to receive free homeowners insurance quotes from agents in your area.