Your home could be vacant for a variety of reasons; whether it’s a seasonal home, it’s under renovation, you’re traveling, or it’s up for sale. Leaving your property unattended also leaves in vulnerable to damage from natural disaster, vandalism or theft. That’s why it’s important to take steps to protect it and make sure there is adequate insurance coverage. Here are some tips for vacant property owners:
1. SECURE THE RIGHT COVERAGE
Usually, homeowners insurance policies will not cover claims that occur at a property that is vacant for 30-60 days or more. According to most insurance companies, the two types of vacancies are commonly defined as:
- immediately suitable for occupation
- the owner’s personal property remains in the home
- owners removed their personal property, furnishings, etc.
- utilities are shut off
There are vacant home products available or you may add coverage to your existing homeowner’s policy by endorsement. This will typically result in a vacancy or unoccupied surcharge. However, it is important that your insurance carrier is aware of the vacancy in order for claims to be paid out.
2. INSTALL A SECURITY SYSTEM
One of the most effective ways to protect your property from theft, vandalism or malicious acts is to install an alarmed security system. In addition to monitoring your home for unwanted guests, a central station burglar alarm system will get you a discount with your insurance carrier. Provide your agent/broker with a certificate from your alarm company to start saving!
3. CONSIDER A CARETAKER OR HOUSE SITTER
If you have a friend or relative that wouldn’t mind staying at your property while it is vacant, it might be a good idea to let them move in. If not, you can also look into hiring a caretaker that will maintain the property. Not only will this offer protection for your home and belongings, but it will allow you to maintain an occupied status with your insurance and avoid vacant surcharges on your policy.
4. UPKEEP AND MAINTENANCE
Be sure to keep up the property by checking utilities and using preventative measures to avoid damage. An empty home is more likely to be neglected than one that is occupied, so be sure to have effective fire protection devices (such as smoke detectors) in each room.
Your property can become vacant or unoccupied for many reasons, don’t make the mistake of not securing proper coverage to protect it. You may purchase a vacant home policy or add coverage to your existing policy by way of endorsement. Questions? Let’s talk.
Opinions expressed in this article are solely the author’s opinion, not intended to provide the reader with legal or any other professional advice. Should you need advice or opinion, consult with a qualified professional to address your specific needs.