When the weather starts to turn colder, many homeowners in the northern states travel to warmer climates in the south. These “snowbirds,” as they are often called, may leave their homes unoccupied for weeks or months at a time.
Perhaps they have taken steps to secure their property—an alarm system, video cameras, security lights, etc. – but the reality is that if someone leaves their home unattended for weeks at a time, their homeowners policy might not provide coverage if there is a claim, even though they have paid their premiums.
To keep them from having to pay for any damages or losses out of pocket, many homeowners, who leave their houses unoccupied for extended periods, purchase vacant home insurance. These products can provide coverage for claims that would otherwise go unpaid by a regular home insurance policy.
What is vacant home insurance?
Vacant home insurance—or unoccupied homeowners insurance as it is sometimes called—is a specialty insurance product that provides financial protection from damage or loss to an uninhabited property.
Typical home insurance policies won’t extend coverage on a vacant house for more than 30 to 60 days, which means the home isn’t covered for fire, vandalism, liability, or other types of claims after the extension has expired.
Unoccupied house insurance can be obtained as a separate policy or as an endorsement. If it’s an endorsement, it will be added to your existing policy.
Do you need vacant home insurance?
A general rule of thumb is that if you are leaving your home vacant for 30 days or more, you should get insurance for the unoccupied house. The terms on a homeowners policy can vary from company to company, but most insurers will deny claims if a home is left vacant for longer than 30 days.
Check your insurance policy or, better yet, speak to your insurer and find out how the company defines vacancy. Your home insurance company will probably have specific restrictions about the length of time you may leave your home unoccupied.
Here are some common scenarios in which a homeowner would need unoccupied or vacant home insurance:
- You’ve just bought a house, but you won’t be moving in for several weeks
- You often travel for weeks at a time
- You’re remodeling your house and won’t be living there during the renovations
- You must have medical treatment that will require you to be in the hospital for weeks
- You’re renting out a house and are in between tenants
- You own a vacation home, which you visit a few times a year
What is the average cost of vacant home insurance?
Vacant homes are a greater insurance risk than occupied homes. They can be a magnet for break-ins and vandalism, and the emergency response time could be much slower. In other words, a fire at an occupied house would be reported faster, which would minimize the damage compared to a vacant house.
As a result, vacant home insurance policies are typically at least 50% more expensive than homeowners insurance policies. While premiums for homeowners policies vary widely across the country, the national average is approximately $1,200 per year, putting the average for vacant property insurance at about $1,800 per year.
Of course, there are some noteworthy exceptions. Florida homeowners, for instance, pay the highest premiums for home insurance in the country at close to $2,000 annually, which also makes their vacant home insurance a hefty $3,000 per year on average.
What about vacant land insurance?
You might believe that if you own land and there are no structures on it, you need not worry about losses, liability, or lawsuits. But you might not be aware of what’s happening on that land, and what you don’t know could put you into financial ruin or cause you considerable financial losses.
Here are a few examples:
- You allow your friend to use his all-terrain vehicle on your land. While driving around, he hits the cover of an abandoned well, flipping and rolling the ATV. If he is severely injured, you might be responsible for his medical bills, lost wages, and maybe even pain and suffering.
- If you allow hunting on your property, think about those hunters carrying firearms on your land. High-powered rifle rounds can travel long distances, or one of the hunters could get hurt climbing over a fallen tree.
- It can be tempting to open your land to recreational hikers. But if you know your land has some dangerous terrain, it could be a liability waiting to happen.
The protection from these three scenarios and many more like them could come from vacant land insurance. You are responsible for anything that occurs on your land, and land insurance is a type of liability coverage that could end up saving your financial life.
Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to lawsuits
The risks associated with vacant houses and land are real and could result in significant financial losses without the proper coverage. Talk to the insurance professionals at NSI Insurance Group about your need for vacant homes or land insurance.
NSI Insurance Group represents the finest and most reputable insurance companies in the country. We work with you to find the coverage that is best for you. We’re an independent insurance agency in Miami, Florida, so call or visit us for all your insurance needs.