Imagine you’re off enjoying a nice, long, well deserved vacation with your family. After all the sightseeing, laying out on the beach and that dreaded plane trip home, you have mentally prepared yourself to get back into the daily routine.
Expecting your house to be as you left it, you walk through your front door only to find that your house has been destroyed, all of your belongings are strewn about and the computer and television are gone. You have every right to be angry but you don’t panic because you know you pay your homeowner’s insurance on time every month.
“Don’t worry,” you tell your spouse. “We’re covered”.
But are you really covered?
It depends on your policy, and some insurance providers won’t accept a claim if you’ve been away from your home for more than 30 days. This happens all too often, homeowners leave for an extended period of time not knowing that their homeowners insurance is only in effect while they are living in the house.
Every year thousands of homeowners leave their home vacant without understanding their homeowner’s policy and risk everything while they are away.
Retirees may leave their home in the winter to travel to Florida or other warm destinations. Children with aging parents may have vacant homes while in transition to a long term care facility. A house may be vacant for months on end while waiting to be sold. These are only some of the reasons why a house may be unoccupied for any extended period of time.
Understanding Unoccupied Property Insurance
While homeowners insurance is necessary for your financial protection, if you leave your property unoccupied for any extended period of time you may want to consider purchasing unoccupied property insurance.
If you’re on vacation, or if your home is for sale, or if you are just doing repairs and renovations, you might want to consider purchasing unoccupied property insurance because it is for anyone who owns property that is currently vacant.
Unoccupied property insurance allows coverage for your home as well as other permanent structures on your property, such as a detached garage or storage shed. It can also be purchased for manufactured homes or investment properties. While coverage for an unoccupied home is usually about three times higher than what you would pay while living in the house, it is there to protect one of your largest investments–your home.
Costs may be higher because claims are typically higher, and there is uncontrolled risk while the house is vacant. If a fire occurs while someone is home, they are more likely to be available to call the fire department to prevent a major loss. If no one is home when a fire occurs there is more risk for a total loss.
Insurance policies vary…
From state to state and while single day coverage may be offered by few insurance providers, most require a minimum need of 90 day coverage. Most providers offer 3 month, 6 month, 9 month and 12 month policy coverage. If a house may be empty for a few years then the homeowner can purchase and renew an annual policy.
A homeowner needs to make sure the unoccupied property insurance policy has specific protection policies written in, such as flood or earthquake damage coverage if needed. If flood insurance is not available to be written into the policy, contact a provider associated with the National Flood Insurance Program. Likewise, earthquake insurance may not be available in certain regions so it would need to be specifically written into the policy. It is important to review the details of your policy to make sure you are covered for more than the bare minimum.
So, the next time you plan to take a lengthy vacation it is strongly recommended that you purchase unoccupied property insurance to protect your home and assets while you are away. Even if you are paying your neighbor to keep an eye on the house, give yourself peace of mind knowing this time you really are covered.
What do you think?
Have you ever taken out an unoccupied property insurance policy? Do you think it is worth the cost?