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How Do I Get Vacant Home Insurance?
Article 7 of 8 in Homeowners Insurance Coverage Basics
Home Insurance for a vacant property can be difficult to secure. Companies do not like to offer vacant home insurance because unoccupied property attracts insurance risk. Aside from being a target for break-ins, arson, vandalism and water damage from freezing pipes, there is a larger possibility of injury on the property while it is vacant. Given the risks, insurers usually limit vacant home insurance coverage to 30 days from date of vacancy. Normally, when an insurance company finds that a house is vacant, they will cancel your insurance policy and give you the date upon which your coverage will end.
TIP: It is difficult to find unoccupied home insurance, so do your best to avoid having your existing insurance policy cancelled.
What to Do for Vacant Home Insurance Coverage
The best thing to do with an unoccupied home is to occupy or rent it as soon as possible! When that is not possible, try to avoid having the existing insurance cancelled. If it is a house that you moved from and now find yourself stuck with two homes, make sure you minimize all appearances of it being vacant to prevent the unoccupied home's insurance carrier from sending you a cancellation notice. Consider the following:
- Leave furniture in the home-minimal essentials such as a bed or lamps.
- Put timers on the lamps to come on and off
- Maintain outdoor lighting. If possible put these lights on a timer to turn off in the day and on at night. This will hopefully minimize break-ins and vandalism.
- Stay in the home every so often if possible. If this is not possible, enlist the help of a friend or nearby neighbor in the same city.
- Keep the lawn and the shrubs maintained.
- If it is during the winter months, maintain heat in the home to prevent pipes from freezing.
- If you feel the home is going to be vacant for some time, consider installing an alarm. Make sure you notify your insurance carrier of the installation in order to get a home protection discount.
TIP: If you have decided to rent this house out, make sure you change the type of insurance from homeowners insurance to a landlord-tenant policy. Only do this after you get a tenant. Doing it before could notify your insurance company that you have moved out AND notify them of the possibility of the house being vacant.
How to Find Unoccupied Home Insurance
Ideally, you will not ever have to look for insurance for your vacant home because you will be able to sell or occupy the home before your previous insurance is cancelled. Finding vacant home insurance is difficult, particularly when you are starting from scratch because the home is not insured. If you find it difficult to locate an insurance company that will provide your unoccupied home's insurance, contact the department of insurance for your state. Nearly every state has an assigned risk home insurance carrier for those risks that mainstream insurance companies are unable to insure. Most departments of insurance will direct you to a carrier that will be able to provide insurance for an unoccupied home.
TIP: Last resort insurance will come at a higher premium! However, the price may well be worth the trade off to avoid a catastrophic claim happening with no insurance.
Save Money While Insuring Your Vacant Home
When you have to insure a home that is not your primary residence, it will be an added strain to your budget. Here are some money saving tips to make your vacant home's insurance more affordable:
- Increase your deductible. This will lower the premium. But keep in mind, if something should happen, you will incur a large deductible before any claim is paid.
- Lower your personal property coverage. If you don't have any property in the home, lowering this coverage may save you a few dollars. However, don't reduce the coverage so low as to tip the insurance company off that the home has nothing in it! You may find that bringing it down $50,000-60,000 could save you some money.
- Reduce the utilities by unplugging everything left in the home until it is used. Keep the heat or a/c on low. Saving on utilities will allow you to put more money towards the vacant home's insurance premium.
TIP: Don't skimp on coverage to lower the premium on your vacant home insurance. This could be a mistake! If an accident should occur, you want to be adequately covered.
If you are in need of insurance, whether home insurance for your vacant home or a landlord tenant policy , get a free home insurance quote by clicking here.