What if My Home is Unoccupied?

Your insurer considers an unoccupied dwelling riskier than an occupied one.  Depending on how long you are away from your home, you need to make arrangements to ensure your dwelling is checked regularly and you may need to inform your insurer.


If you will be away from your home for fewer than 30 days you do not need to inform your insurer. However, you do need to arrange for a competent person to look in on your home every day or two to make sure that everything is in good order. If a food freezer and a broken furnace result in frozen pipes and water damage that went unnoticed for several days, your insurer could refuse to cover the costs if no one was looking in on the house.


If you are away for more than 30 days your home is considered “unoccupied” because you plan to return. In this case you should contact your broker to determine whether you will need to inform your insurer and obtain a special permit to leave the house empty. You will still need to arrange regular checks on the property, and you might want to consider draining water pipes and installing a good security alarm.


A fully vacant property is one with no occupants and no contents. This may occur if a house sale is delayed and the property remains vacant until sold. In this case you need to obtain a vacancy permit from your insurer. This permit will maintain most of your coverage, except for risks associated with vacancy such as broken water pipes, broken glass or vandalism.


Personal items covered by your home, condo or tenants insurance are also covered when they are temporarily away from these locations, for example, when you are traveling. Items belonging to a dependent child temporarily living outside your home to attend school, for example, are also covered. Home-business items, however, require additional coverage.


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