In the Clear Lake area, there are numerous homes that are either unoccupied or vacant. Often, these homes are not occupied because they are either waiting to be moved into, waiting to be rented, investment properties, or seasonal vacation homes.
No matter the reason why a home is unoccupied, it’s important for homeowners to understand that vacancy affects homeowners insurance a great deal. In the following article, you’ll learn more about the definitions of vacant homes and unoccupied homes and how owning these properties may affect your insurance.
Defining “Vacant” and “Unoccupied” Homes
First, let’s start with the word vacant. A vacant home is a home where no one currently lives and where no one could live. You’ve probably seen “typical” vacant homes along the side of the road as you’re driving. The windows and doors may be boarded up, the lawns are often overgrown, and if you were to peer inside, you would see that there’d be no furniture or personal property in the rooms.
Now let’s discuss the term unoccupied. Unoccupied homes are different from vacant homes because they are technically livable. Still, no one lives there. You’ve probably seen unoccupied homes along the side of the road while driving as well — but you didn’t know they were unoccupied. That’s because unoccupied homes look like every other occupied home on the street. The only difference is that no one is living there. The owners could return at any time and immediately begin living there — unlike in vacant homes. Utilities are turned on in unoccupied homes (utilities are generally turned off in vacant homes), and there is furniture, like a table, chairs, and a bed inside.
Ensuring Continuous Coverage for Vacant and Unoccupied Homes
If you own a vacant or unoccupied home, you may assume that you have insurance coverage for it. However, you’d be surprised to learn that insurance companies often cancel home policies once they learn of a home’s vacancy or inoccupancy.
This is because insurance companies find vacant and unoccupied homes to be too risky. When a home is unoccupied, it’s not taken care of like a home that’s occupied. Furthermore, vandalism, theft, and squatting are all problems that regularly occur in vacant homes — and sometimes in unoccupied homes. For vacant homes, it is unlikely that insurance companies will continue coverage because of the high risk of vandalism and broken glass — two types of damage that are hardly ever covered by insurance policies for vacant homes.
Unoccupied homes pose unique problems as well. Even if you have every intention of returning to your home after a long time away (perhaps for a vacation or a long-term medical treatment), the insurance company may cancel your policy after 30 or 60 days of vacancy by the owners. The time period depends on the insurance company, so you’ll want to ask how long your home can be vacant before your insurance is canceled.
What About Seasonal Homes?
Ask your insurance company about seasonal homeownership as well. Sometimes, insurance companies will extend coverage to seasonal homes (in addition to covering your primary residence). However, this may not be the case in your situation, so you’ll want to double check.
Speaking With an Insurance Agent About Unattended Homes
Still confused about how vacancy and inoccupancy work in regards to homeowners insurance? We understand. These concepts aren’t easy to fully grasp from just one article. Moreover, time limits and specific policies will inevitably vary from insurance agency to insurance agency.
Because of this, it’s recommended that readers work one-on-one with a licensed insurance agent who can answer all of your questions. For more information, feel free to call Lillie-Couch Insurance today, or stop in.