Homeowners insurance is already confusing for your primary residence without having to deal with a second or third home.
But if you do own a second or third home — whether it’s for vacation, an investment property, or a home that you plan to rent or sell — you should be aware of how homeowners insurance may be affected by the fact that no one lives in these residences. And trust us, your insurance company cares!
Insuring a Primary Residence Vs. Insurance a Second Home
The main concern that insurance companies have when it comes to ensuring homes that are unoccupied (or secondary seasonal homes), is risk. There is simply more risk associated with unattended homes than there is with homes where people live. Imagine that you have flooding in your primary residence for example. Because you live there, you will notice the flooding right away, and you will contact someone to fix it immediately. You’ll also file your insurance claim for your homeowner’s policy immediately.
On the other hand, if there is flooding in a home you own that is unoccupied, you probably won’t notice it for several weeks or months. This means that the flooding will worsen and could cause exacerbating problems, such as mold, mildew, the deterioration of your home’s foundation, and other troubles.
Insurance companies are aware of this, and they don’t want to deal with these secondary problems. This is why, if you decide that you do want to insure an unintended home that you own, you should expect to pay a lot more for your policy.
It’s also why you need to know the time limits that your insurance company sets for homes they consider “unoccupied.” For example, one insurance company may consider a home unoccupied when it is left with no one living there for 90 days. Most companies consider a home unoccupied if it is left for 60 days. But others will put the deadline at 30 days.
How Are Vacant Homes and Unoccupied Homes Different?
One other thing to keep in mind is that terms play a big part in how your insurance company interprets your homeowner’s policy. There are two terms that you need to know about: “Vacant” and “Unoccupied.”
A vacant home is not livable. The owners have taken out all of the furniture and other possessions needed for someone to live there, and electricity and water are turned off. These homes are harder to insure than unoccupied homes. Unoccupied homes are those that are technically livable, but no one is there. When a home is livable, but no one has lived there for 60 days or more, this is generally when insurance policies become void. A voided insurance policy can occur with a primary residence or with a seasonal home that you may assume is insured — but that ends up being uncovered because of owner vacancy.
Both vacant homes and unoccupied homes have a higher risk for vandalism and glass breakage as well. Both of these issues are red flags for insurance companies who do not like to cover glass or vandal damage. If you do find an insurance company, who will cover a vacant home specifically, plan to pay much higher premiums.
Don’t Let Vacant and Unoccupied Home Insurance Confuse You
Wolfgram Insurance understands that information relating to unoccupied and vacant homes can be confusing. But we want to help. If you have any questions or concerns relating to these topics, please feel free to stop by our office or give us a call. It’s always best to speak directly to a licensed insurance company for more information.