Insurance On Vacant Property

Unoccupied and vacant property insurance are specialty insurance products that are designed to provide financial protection from damage or loss of a home that is uninhabited.

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Vacant HOME & Property INSURANCE


If you leave your home unattended for weeks at a time, your homeowners policy likely won’t provide coverage in the event of a claim during the time it is unoccupied or vacant. As a result, any damages or losses that occur would have to be paid out of pocket.

For these times, unoccupied and vacant home insurance products offer coverage for claims that would otherwise go unpaid by your home insurance company.

insurance on vacant property

What is unoccupied and vacant home insurance?

Unoccupied and vacant property insurance are specialty insurance products that are designed to provide financial protection from damage or loss of a home that is uninhabited.

Typical homeowners insurance policies won’t cover fire, vandalism, liability or other types of claims on an unoccupied or vacant property. For example, if you leave your home for a few months and there is a fire, unoccupied and vacant home insurance would provide coverage where your standard homeowners policy wouldn’t.

Insurance on vacant property can be purchased as a separate policy or as an endorsement. If it’s purchased as a separate policy, you’ll no longer need to pay for a standard homeowners policy. However, if it’s purchased as an endorsement, it serves as an add-on to your existing homeowners policy.

Unoccupied and vacant homes present a greater insurance risk than occupied homes for many reasons, including slower emergency response times and the increased probability of a break-in occurring. For instance, assuming there were fires on the premises of two homes — an occupied home and a vacant home — the fire taking place at the former would, in theory, result in less damage since it would likely be reported first by its inhabitants and would be put out more quickly.

The increased insurance risk associated with unoccupied and vacant homes has resulted in insurance companies excluding these properties in standard property insurance policies. As a result, homeowners who want coverage for an empty or uninhabited home need to purchase insurance on vacant property.

Do you need insurance on vacant property?

Generally, if you plan to leave your home vacant or unoccupied for 30 days or more, you’ll want to purchase unoccupied or vacant house insurance.

While terms vary by policy, most insurance companies will deny claims that are made if your home is left alone for longer than 30 days. Before leaving your home unattended for a long period of time, you should speak to your insurer and ask how the company defines vacancy and unoccupancy, as your property insurance company may have specific restrictions around the length of time you can leave your home unattended.

Below, we provide a list of common scenarios where a homeowner might find the need for unoccupied or vacant home insurance:

    • You own a vacation home that you only visit a few times per year.
    • You’ve purchased a home, but you won’t move in for several weeks.
    • You’re constantly traveling for weeks at a time.
    • You have to undergo a medical treatment that requires you to be in the hospital for weeks.
    • You’re remodeling a home and aren’t living there while the renovations are taking place.
    • You’re renting out a home and are in between finding tenants.

How Much Is Vacant Home Insurance?

Vacant home insurance policies are typically 50% to 150% more expensive than homeowners insurance policies. While premiums for homeowners policies vary widely across the country, the national average is $1,228 per year, making the average for vacant property insurance $1,842 per year.

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Unoccupied or vacant property insurance is significantly more expensive than a homeowners policy because it’s considered riskier than an occupied property. Because no one is actively maintaining or watching the property, it becomes a target for thieves and vandals.

Sample Averages of Vacant Property Insurance Costs

Average Homeowners Insurance Premium
Potential Vacant Property Insurance Premium

The average premiums for homeowners insurance were taken from various sources. These averages were then increased by 50% to determine the potential vacant property premium. Policies quoted reflect a $200,000 dwelling replacement costs with $1,000 deductible and $100,000 in liability coverage.

Insurance on vacant property is significantly more expensive than a homeowners policy because it’s considered riskier than an occupied property. Because no one is actively maintaining or watching the property, it becomes a target for thieves and vandals. Moreover, unoccupied homes may incur damage during a storm, which can get worse because if it’s not noticed right away.

However, insurance providers assume the property isn’t going to be vacant forever, so they generally let you prorate the policy for the time it will be vacant. For example, if the property will be vacant for about 90 days, you can usually pay for a 90-day vacant home insurance policy. Your coverage reverts to your homeowners policy for the remainder of the year.

What Does Insurance On Vacant Property Cover?

Vacant and unoccupied home insurance covers the same types of losses that a homeowners policy does but specifically outlines coverage for properties without regular inhabitants for a time.

Vacant property insurance coverage generally includes coverage for:

  • Vandalism: Graffiti and intentional damage done to the vacant home
  • Named perils: Covers losses from mentioned perils like a house fire, windstorm, and water loss
  • Total loss: Coverage for the total cost of replacing the property
  • Partial loss: Coverage to partially replace the damaged areas of the home
  • Liability: Bodily injury and property damage sustained by others while they’re on the property

Some insurance companies let homeowners add vacant property insurance policy endorsements onto their current policy, and other providers require a new policy. This usually is contingent on the duration and overall reason for vacancy.

What Unoccupied Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover

Vacant property insurance is written to cover many of the same types of losses that a standard homeowners or rental dwelling insurance policy covers. Property owners need to confirm what types of natural disasters are excluded from policies. These may vary by insurance carrier, but earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods are a few of the most commonly excluded natural disasters.

Who Needs Insurance On Vacant Property

Generally, you need unoccupied home insurance and vacant home insurance whenever your property is going to be unoccupied for 30 or more consecutive days. Aside from homeowners who are away from their primary residence for extended periods, fix-and-flip investors and rental investors may both need unoccupied home insurance policies.

Fix-and-Flip Investors

Fix-and-flip investors generally need a vacant home insurance policy when they purchase the home, while they are renovating, and until they flip the property. The property is vacant during the rehab process, so a typical homeowners insurance policy won’t cover it.

Fix-and-flip investors can give the vacant home insurance provider a timeline of repairs and can either prepay for a yearly policy, pay monthly, or get a prorated policy for the amount of time they anticipate the property will be vacant. Different providers offer different payment options.

Rental Property Investors

Long-term buy-and-hold investors don’t usually think they need vacant home insurance. However, they should get it whenever the property is going to be vacant for 30 or more days. For example, a tenant may move out, and another might not move in for 60 days. This gap in tenancy requires unoccupied home insurance. You should also get unoccupied home insurance when you’re doing property renovations, and no one is living there.

Investors can generally get an unoccupied home insurance policy or rider just for the period that the property is unoccupied. Many providers have monthly payment plans and prorated policies. Once the property is occupied, you can contact your provider easily and switch back to your landlord insurance policy.

Frequently Traveling Homeowners

Homeowners may have various reasons for leaving their homes unoccupied for extended periods of time that include work travel, retirement travel, dual homes, or family care requirements. Keep in mind that any home left without an occupant for 30 to 60 days is considered vacant by your insurance company’s insurability standards.

If you need to go on a trip for more than just a few weeks, call your homeowners insurance agent to see what is required to be properly insured. Some insurance carriers allow you to add an endorsement for as little as $100 to cover extended periods of time when your home is left unattended.

Do I have an unoccupied or vacant house?

An unoccupied home is one that is ready to be used as a residence, meaning that there is furniture in place and utilities are set up. On the other hand, a vacant house typically doesn’t have any personal property contained within it.

However, vacant homes pose a higher risk to insurance companies than unoccupied homes because unoccupied-home claims are likely to be reported sooner than claims made for vacant homes. As a result, any damage that could occur, such as water backup in the home, would likely be less severe in the unoccupied home, resulting in a lower cost to the insurance company.

The determination of whether your house is vacant or unoccupied will have a large effect on your insurance rates.

Factors That Affect Vacant Home Insurance Costs

Although insurance on vacant property can be expensive, certain things impact the costs. Two examples are the planned length of vacancy and the reason the property is vacant both. Generally, a home that is in between tenants or a vacation rental property is less expensive to insure than a home that is vacant because it needs repairs.

Factors that affect vacant property insurance costs include:

    • Length of vacancy: Generally, the shorter the vacancy, the lower the risk, which results in a lower insurance premium
    • Reason for vacancy: If the reason for the vacancy is that the property is being renovated or the owner suffered a medical emergency, the premium is often lower than if the property has no future occupancy plans
    • Security system: Installing burglar alarms and other security measures generally earn a small discount on the insurance premium
    • Property condition: The better the property condition, the lower the vacant home insurance policy cost
    • Multipolicy discount: Getting more than one policy from an insurer often results in a lower cost for your unoccupied home insurance policy
    • Neighborhood: Insurers typically charge more when a vacant home is on a street with multiple boarded-up houses or in proximity to high-crime areas
    • Replacement cost: Larger homes with more upgrades cost more to replace in a loss, and this increases the amount of coverage required and the overall cost of insurance
    • Property oversight: A vacant property that is regularly monitored by a real estate agent or an on-site contractor has less risk than a second home in the middle of nowhere in a mountain town

Regulating Agency and References

Insurance Information Institute (III)

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