Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Jan 18, 2022

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Homeowners have their own horrors. Maybe your worst fear is coming home to a burglar-ransacked home where your most prized possessions are broken or missing. Others might be scared of the house burning down.

Meanwhile, the insurance companies that cover houses have their own worst nightmares. It might surprise you what gets normally cool underwriters flustered, hot under the collar, causing them to fidget, and sweat.

For starters, any type of situation that puts the house in undue danger tops the list.

For that reason, an unoccupied or vacant house freaks out home insurers more than anything else.

If you are among the many homeowners who has been forced to move out, leaving your house vacant from the economy, you are not alone.

Use the FREE quote comparison tool at the top of this page!

Running Historical Statistics, Not Imagination

What the insurance companies are using is not their fears, but reality. Statistically speaking, a house that sits empty, regardless of the backdrop, has an appeal.

Everyone from vagrants to thieves to kids looking for a place to hang out can sniff out the empty houses.

getting an-unoccupied-homeowners insurance quoteAnything that can go wrong is worsened when the house sits vacant.

  1. Pool drownings
  2. House fires
  3. Vandalism
  4. Destruction
  5. Devaluing the house

Other damages and disasters that might befall your property while you are there are still perils when you vacate or just go on an extended vacation.

For instance, that hurricane that goes easier on your house because you were there to close your hurricane shutters, or otherwise protect your home, still hits.

Only without you there, it rips through and allows rainwater and wind to destroy the inside of your house.

Flood, snow storms, ice, wind, and other elements are threats to your house. The problem is when you are not at home to prevent any of the damage. The good news is you are a consumer with the chance to save money on policies.

Compare Quotes for Unoccupied Policies

You have many opportunities to save, even where policies for unoccupied houses are concerned. Weigh out your options and compare. For instance, check with your present homeowners insurance to find out if you will need to buy a separate policy or if they will require an endorsement.

In addition, your insurance company may not require you to do anything,depending upon how long you are gone. However, given the possibility that you could potentially be out of the house anywhere from 30 to 60 days, you may want to be a smart homeowner.

Hiring a trusted house sitter is the best way to prevent vandalism and other unnecessary damages.

Another is to have a security system that you actually have activated and on for the period of time you will be out of town. You may want to alert the security system or a trusted neighbor you are away.

Hook lights onto timers and have someone pick up the mail and any newspapers or packages that get delivered.

Likewise, hire the landscapers to come over and tend to the lawn and plants while you are gone too. That will also serve to make the place look occupied.

Beyond that, compare prices for a new policy and for the addition of an endorsement on your insurance. As always, check for the following any time you are buying homeowners insurance:

  1. Get as many quotes as you can
  2. Compare costs, and go with the lowest premium carriers to the highest
  3. Eliminate any insurance companies that do not measure up in credit worthiness scores of A-grades and above at Weiss Ratings or Moody’s
  4. Follow any policy guidelines for an unoccupied house, such as removing valuable belongings, or ensuring the heater is on or water dripping to prevent pipes from bursting
  5. Increase deductibles, because, after all, insurance claims on houses are still only for catastrophic damage.

Before you skip out without notifying your insurance company, stop. The insurance companies know the temptation exists to leave without telling them. They know the damage nay doers will bring to your place.

The insurance companies consider it neglect and abandonment of the property, which is forbidden in your insurance policy.

Leaving negates the policy, in other words. If you have been a good policy holder over the years, your insurance company may be helpful. They might just put an addendum or rider onto your policy.

Do Not Take Leaves For Granted

You might not realize it, but you could unknowingly be “vacating” your house, and playing with fire with your insurance company.

For instance, if you live part of the year elsewhere, or are on the long-time year-around-the-world vacation of a lifetime you might be in breach of your homeowners insurance policy.

  1. Vacating the home means permanently leaving it.
  2. Unoccupied home means the owners are going to return.

Expected etiquette for leaving your home unoccupied is this. If you are going to be gone 30 days or longer, be sure to contact your insurance company. Though, the best test is to thoroughly read your policy.

It may allow you to go 60 days before having to notify them.

Hiring A House Sitter

Many homeowners would rather hire a house sitter than incur the extra charges to their policy. That’s why it is important to fully vet out a potential house sitter before letting them come move into your home for any length of time.

It is to make sure they will not be a bigger liability and that they are trustworthy. Check references, and only hire someone with proven experience. Of course, even with a house sitter, many insurance carriers will still treat the house as if it is unoccupied because the owner is not there.

That means that you may still be required to buy an extra endorsement to your policy. Now, if, on the other hand, you have a vacation home that sits unused for most of the year, your homeowners insurance carrier will require that you buy an endorsement, usually.

Even if you are vacating the house to sell it, you will need to buy an endorsement or even a new, separate insurance policy.

Special Vacation Homes Policies

When you are shopping for insurance for your permanent house, it is different than buying for your vacation home. That is why there are separate policies that exist specifically for vacation homes.

You may want to work with both mainstream insurance and specialized insurance carriers to see which ones provide the most competitive policies for you.

Most homeowners assume that if they have to buy a 12-month policy for their homeowners insurance that they will have to do the same for an unoccupied or vacant home. That is not always the case, and is considered a good reason to turn to insurers who specialize in such policies.

Either way, the idea is to protect your personal possessions, structures on the property, dwelling, and against liabilities with any policy. With vacant and unoccupied homes there are other issues.

Always compare policies against each other before making decisions. A FREE quote tool such as the one below will help you start your search!