The Insurance and Risk Management Needs of a Vacant Home

It’s a scenario that happens quite often; a homeowner is trying to sell their house, but they have already purchased a new home. They’ve already moved out of the house they’re selling and have staged it for potential buyers, but for now it stands empty. While the home is not being lived in, there are still insurance needs and risks that should be addressed, although they are slightly different than those of an occupied home.

Below we’ll explore some of the most important things insurance agents need to know to support the insurance and risk management needs of a vacant home.

  1. What does “vacancy” mean? If a home is unoccupied for 60 or more days, it is considered vacant by most homeowner policies. However, some policies may void a homeowner’s coverage if the house stands empty for several weeks. Policies are based on low-risk scenarios where the house is occupied on a regular basis, so make sure that these details are clear to your clients.
  2. Besides selling/moving, what other scenarios can cause a house to qualify as “vacant”? Medical treatments causing extended stays in a hospital, renovations, vacation homes, and extended travel are all scenarios that can cause a house to stand empty for lengthy periods of time.  Each of these situations has special insurance needs and may require a separate policy or rider.
  3. What’s the difference between “unoccupied” and “vacant”? Insurance companies do see a difference between unoccupied and vacant. Vacant is usually empty, with little to no personal effects inside. Unoccupied is a home in a state where the occupants could return at any time. As  mentioned before, a home that is unoccupied for 60 days or more is often considered vacant by insurance carriers and can result in the carrier canceling the insurance coverage. It’s important for homeowners to check their home’s policy thoroughly before leaving it unoccupied for long periods of time.
  4. Can you even insure a vacant or an unoccupied home? The short answer is yes, you can insure a vacant or unoccupied home. The long answer is that while in some cases it is not much of an extra expense, in other cases is can be quite costly. Depending on how long the home will be unoccupied, the cost could be small with just a rider added to the policy. Because vacant homes carry a higher risk and have different coverages, insurance coverage for a vacant home can sometimes be at a considerable increase to a regular homeowners policy, possibly as much as 3 times higher.
  5. Taking care of a vacant or unoccupied property can help lessen the risk for possible issues, from burglary to elemental damage.  Maintaining the exterior of a house and keeping the landscaping neat can make a vacant home look less so, deterring any opportunistic burglars or vandals. Installing a security system or motion-activated lights can also help a property stay safe, and can help lower insurance premiums.

Each unoccupied/vacant home will have different needs and require different coverage, like any regular homeowner policy would. As always, it’s important for agents to understand their client’s individual needs so they can provide them with the best products and coverages available.

About AmSuisse

Formed in 2013, AmSuisse, Inc. has quickly distinguished itself as a wholesale operation that specializes in working very closely with our agents and broker partners to develop responsive, individualized service for each client. Our unparalleled writing support, industry-specific expertise, marketing support, responsive proposals and quotes, strong customer service, and strong relationships with our carrier partners have all helped us to provide the best possible coverage for our clients. To learn more about our available coverage, contact us today at (800) 485-0229 to speak with one of our representatives.