When you own a property that you don't live in very often (or at all), it's still important to keep the property insured to prevent expensive damage bills. However, uninhabited homes cost more to insure because they can present more problems than a home with someone to care for it all year long. Here are some of the important things to know if you need unoccupied or vacant property insurance:
Reasons for Vacancy
A house can be vacant for a number of reasons.
- split residency among multiple homes
- recovery from medical treatment
- renovations and repairs
- long vacations
Unoccupied v. Vacant
There is a huge difference between an unoccupied home and a vacant home when it comes to insurance companies.
- immediately suitable for someone to live in the home
- utilities are on
- property is still in the home
- personal property removed from the premises
- utilities shut off
Talk to your insurance company about what exactly classifies a home as vacant versus what classifies a home as unoccupied. You may be able to meet the "unoccupied" qualification and pay less in insurance.
Vacant homes are also at an increased risk of fire damage. In fact, vacant homes see 28,000 fires every year in the United States.
Vacant homes are tempting for homeless men and women and other people who could use a place to hide out. Unfortunately, unwanted guests most likely won't treat your home with the care that they should. They will also probably have to break windows to get inside.
Cost and Coverage
Vacant homes usually cost more to insure if they can even be insured at all. When insured, vacant home insurance will typically not cover damage from frozen pipes, vandalism, and other damage that is more likely in a vacant home. To have the same coverage on a vacant home that you would have on an occupied home will cost anywhere from 4 - 5 times as much.
Reducing Insurance Cost
When you do need to insure a vacant home, there are plenty of ways to reduce your costs. An alarm system with temperature controls can reduce your insurance cost 10 - 20%. The alarm keeps people from breaking in, and temperature controls prevent the pipes from freezing.
Another way to reduce insurance costs for a vacant home is to rent the house or hire a house-sitter. Talk to an insurance company like Unoccupied Property Ltd. about your situation. Your rates might not have to change at all. n