Let’s say you were to leave your primary residence for 60 days or more to travel to Europe on an extended vacation; you would have every intention of going home to continue living in your home. But during that 60-day period, you would not be living there.
As a result of this, your insurance company might consider your home “unoccupied,” (a term we’ll define later), and your policy may become void.
If you were to return to your home only to find flooding in your basement, unfortunately, any claim you made for the damage may be denied by the insurance company because of the “unoccupied” status that they had placed on your home while you were away. This would cause you to have to pay for the flood damage out-of-pocket — something that could be extremely expensive for you and your family.
Situations That May Merit Unoccupied or Vacant Home Insurance
Going away on an extended vacation is not the only scenario that may void your homeowner’s insurance policy because of home vacancy. In fact, there are numerous situations in which an insurance company may deem a home unoccupied — even if you, the homeowners, feel it’s not.
Before explaining these situations, it’s a good idea to define two important terms: “unoccupied homes” and “vacant homes.”
Insurance companies use these two terms when examining unattended homes or homes where no one is currently living. Insurance companies are particularly interested in whether or not a home is occupied because they don’t like to insure unattended homes.
Why? Unattended homes pose a greater risk. Any damage that might occur while no one is living in a home might not be noticed for a long period of time, which could cause additional damage (pests and animals, water damage, further fire damage, etc.).
Vacant homes and unattended homes are different. A vacant home is one where no one lives, and no one can live because the utilities are shut off, and the homeowner has removed all of their belongings. An unintended home is one that is livable. Utilities are left on (electricity, water, phone, Internet, etc.), appliances are ready to go, and there is enough furniture inside for someone to live.
For unoccupied homes, there is a minimum vacancy time period that insurance companies will look at. That is, if you leave your home for a week to go on a short vacation, your insurance company should not consider it unoccupied. On the other hand, if you leave your home for a month or 60 days, it’s possible your insurance company will consider your home unoccupied. The time period is different for every insurance company.
The following situations may arise in which you will need to be concerned about whether or not your insurance company will consider your home unoccupied or possibly vacant:
- You have to leave your home for a long-term vacation.
- You’re traveling for business for a long period of time.
- You are undergoing long-term medical treatment away from home.
- You have a second home that you rent out, but you are in between tenants.
- You’re remodeling your home and won’t be living there during the construction.
- You’ve purchased a new home, but you can’t move in for a long period of time.
Questions? Speak to a Licensed Insurance Agent
It’s understandable if you are confused by unoccupied homes, vacant homes, and the changes they may cause in your homeowner’s insurance policy. For any questions you may have concerning this topic, speak to a licensed insurance agent directly.
Call Pagel & Associates Insurance Agency at your convenience, or feel free to stop in to speak with an agent.