Can an empty home void a home insurance policy?

July 18th, 2019

Empty home white living room featuring vertical picture frame, white chair, and bookshelf. There is a bay window to the left.

A property can be left empty for a number of reasons, whether the home is in-between renters or the owners have already moved or if they follow a snowbird lifestyle. Whatever the reason, it’s important to know that an empty home can void a home insurance policy, even if you’re current on your premiums.

An empty home can void a home insurance policy.

An empty home is a risky home. If a house is left unoccupied for a more than a few days, it is statistically riskier to insure. One reason is that damage can go unnoticed for longer, which can increase the severity of damages. For example, if a pipe were to burst, the water damage could go undetected for a long period of time. This could result in far more extensive damage than if it had been caught right away. Empty homes are also more appealing for drifters, thieves, and vandals.

This is why an empty home can void a home insurance policy. In order to minimize the risk, insurance companies often require a home to be checked in on every 48-72 hours. The exact period of time varies by insurer, so be sure you know what your home insurance policy requires.

At what point is a house considered vacant?

It depends on the policy, but most insurers consider a home to be empty after just 48-72 hours. Long term vacancy is usually considered to be between 30-60 days. If your house is left empty even for a short period of time, your home insurance policy can be affected. If your home is going to be left vacant long term and checking in on it every day isn’t possible, you should talk to your insurance broker about your options.

How can I avoid my empty home impacting my home insurance?

You have three options when it comes to looking to avoid your empty home impacting your home insurance:

  1. You can set up a plan for a trusted friend or family member to routinely check your vacant home or have someone house-sit for the time you will be gone.
  2. You can purchase an add-on that will be added to your existing homeowner policy, as long as it is available to you.
  3. You could purchase a separate vacant-home insurance policy, as long as it is available to you.

If you choose to have a friend or family member check in on your house during its period of vacancy, make sure they check each room to ensure nothing has happened. If your water has been left on, they should run the taps as well. They should also check that the heating system is functioning (especially in the winter). Depending on how long you’re out of the house, they may need to collect mail and perform general maintenance on the house as well. They should be informed of what to do in the event of damage or a situation where you lose power. Keeping a log of inspections can help if there is ever a claim. This all helps your friend or family member spot a small issue before it becomes a major one.

If you’re leaving your home empty for a longer period of time, you may want to opt for an add-on or separate vacant home policy. This generally includes all homes left empty for at least 30 – 60 days. These are not available to everyone and is based on the potential risks faced by your vacant home. Talk to your broker about your options, including ways to reduce your chance of damage (and your premiums).

Always notify your insurance broker or insurance company about extended absences. Some insurance companies require notification if you’re going for an extended period of time. Your broker will be able to help you ensure your home remains protected. They’re your best resource when it comes to anything insurance!

Contact your Rogers Insurance Professional to get a quote today.

Blog Author: Gabrielle Reid

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