Vacant Home Insurance

Understand unoccupied home insurance and how to find it. Author Icon Written by Trusted Choice Author Icon
Written by Trusted Choice

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Reviewer: Jeffrey Green Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
Reviewer: Jeffrey Green
Reviewed by Jeffrey Green

Jeff Green has held a variety of sales and management roles at life insurance companies, Wall street firms, and distribution organizations over his 40-year career.  He was previously Finra 7,24,66 registered and held life insurance licenses in multiple states. He is a graduate of Stony Brook University.

Vacant Home Insurance

People own unoccupied homes for different reasons. You may be living elsewhere while doing extensive renovations, or you may be traveling for an extended period. You may have put your home on the market and left it vacant after you moved into a new house.

If your home is unoccupied, certain coverage may be limited on your homeowners policy. At that point, you may need vacant home insurance to cover your liability risks.

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What Is Vacant House Insurance?

Vacant house insurance is a specialized insurance policy that provides protection for homes left unoccupied for extended periods. This type of insurance covers damage caused by vandalism, theft, and natural disasters like fires and floods, which can occur when a house is unoccupied. The purpose of vacant house insurance is to offer homeowners financial protection against the risks that come with leaving their homes vacant for a prolonged period.

Some of the reasons that homeowners may require vacant home insurance include:

  • Houses that will be vacant for a minimum of 3 months and up to 36 months
  • Unoccupied homes that are for sale
  • Homes in foreclosure
  • Vacant homes under renovation

When homeowners have to leave their homes unoccupied due to work-related travel or other personal reasons, vacant home insurance can provide financial protection against unforeseen events that may occur during their absence. Homes that are being renovated are often left unoccupied for an extended period, and vacant home insurance can help protect against damage or theft. Additionally, homes that are for sale or rent but are not yet occupied by a tenant or buyer can also benefit from vacant home insurance.

Some companies offer insurance for vacant homes as an addendum to an existing homeowners policy. Other insurance companies are hesitant to provide coverage to vacant homes due to the many risks they face, so you may need to shop around for specialty coverage.

A vacant home policy may have time limits and other stipulations, so it’s important to do your research.

What Does Vacant Home Insurance Cover? 

Vacant home insurance covers many of the same incidents as standard home insurance, including:

  • Theft
  • Fire
  • Flooding
  • Wind
  • Hail
  • Lightning

The main difference is that vacant home insurance policies provide coverage for homes that are left unoccupied for an extended period. The types of circumstances that can be covered by vacant home policies include damage caused by natural disasters, vandalism, and theft, which are more likely to occur in unoccupied homes.

It’s also important to note that there are some circumstances that vacant property insurance will not cover. If a person forges a lease or takes up residence on your unoccupied property unbeknownst to you (a practice sometimes referred to as “squatting”), vacant property insurance will not cover legal fees to remove squatters. If your vacant property is also a rental property, this type of policy also does not cover lost revenue due to illegal squatters. However, carrying a vacant home insurance policy can help to offset the cost of any direct damage or vandalism to your property caused by squatters or trespassers.

How Much Coverage Do I Need for a Vacant Home?

The amount of coverage you need will depend on several factors. Most importantly, always insure for the replacement cost value if you can. The longer the house is vacant, the greater the risk that it may be vandalized or experience other damage since no one is there to monitor the home heating, electrical, and plumbing. 

Vacant property insurance will typically cover physical damage to your home, including weather damage and vandalism.

If you have detached structures or other personal property, consider adding additional vacant property insurance coverage for these structures. This will help ensure that you're protected if someone is injured on your vacant property and files a lawsuit against you.


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How Much Does Vacant Home Insurance Cost?

Because certain risks increase with an unoccupied property, vacant house insurance is typically more expensive than a standard homeowners policy. If you’re only adding an addendum to your current policy, it may be more affordable, but just make sure it includes all the coverage you need. 

Fortunately, insurers will typically return any unused premiums if the house becomes occupied before the end of the policy’s time period.

Factors that affect your premium can include your geographic location, the home’s value, the amount of coverage you purchase, and the safety of the house. Since risk is the biggest concern for insurance companies, you may be able to reduce your rates if you have a home security system.

When Do You Need Vacant House Insurance?

If you know your home will be unoccupied for a long time, check your current homeowners policy. Your insurance company may be willing to work with you to ensure that your home’s coverage continues during that vacancy.

Your insurance company may extend your current policy for a specific period, after which you would need to purchase additional coverage.

Vacant house insurance may be a wise investment for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Selling a home that you no longer live in
  • Rental properties with vacant "off seasons" when there are no tenants
  • Inheriting a home after a relative passes away but not occupying the property
  • Hospitalization or extended medical treatment that requires leaving the home unoccupied
  • Owning a second home that is only used for a few months of the year and is vacant during the remaining months

Anytime your personal home or rental properties are vacant for an extended period, you may need vacant house insurance to protect yourself from liability claims and other risks.

How to Purchase Vacant or Unoccupied Home Insurance

You can check with your current insurance company. Vacant house insurance is considered a specialty product, so you may need to find another insurer. You want to make sure you have the best information to make an informed decision.

Before purchasing vacant home insurance, you should evaluate how long your home will be empty to determine if this type of insurance is necessary. Depending on the length of time the home will be vacant, you may be required to purchase a separate vacant home insurance policy.

You should also consider factors such as the size of the property, installed safety features, and any additional coverage that may be needed.

Additionally, the location of the property, the length of time it will be unoccupied, and the value of the property can all affect the cost of vacant home insurance. To ensure you’re getting the best coverage for your needs at a reasonable price, shop around and compare quotes from different insurance providers. By doing so, you can select a policy that offers the coverage you need at a price you can afford.

Explore Vacant and Unoccupied Home Insurance Options with a Trusted Choice Agent

If you're considering purchasing vacant or unoccupied home insurance, an independent insurance agent can help you explore your options and find a policy that meets your needs. They can also help you understand how long a house can be vacant for insurance purposes and how that affects your coverage. Independent agents work with a variety of insurance providers, so they can help you compare policies and find the best coverage at a competitive price.

With their assistance, you can have the protection you need and the peace of mind you deserve.

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