What To Do If You Own A Vacant Home
When you're travelling and spending time at your vacation home, waiting for a new tenant for your rental property, or transitioning from one home to another, there could be times when you own a property that's sitting vacant for some time. Until you return home or the new owner takes possession, you are responsible for that property and anything that happens to it. Thankfully, you can do a few things to minimize the risk that anything happens to your property while you aren't there.
Remember, vacant is vacant.
If you are going away for more than a few days, be sure to talk to your insurance company as vacancy rules vary between insurers. The most common claim in a vacant dwelling is pipes bursting during the winter months. While away, if there is a power outage or the furnace turns off, it won't take long for the pipes to freeze. If going away for more than a few days in the winter, be sure to turn the main water supply off.
Another common cause of vacancy is when an individual owns a rented property. When one tenant leaves, the home is left vacant for a few weeks until the landlord can find another tenant. Many forget to contact their insurance company during this period and put themselves at significant risk since the home's occupancy has changed from a "rented dwelling" to a "vacant dwelling." This change of occupancy is important, and you must contact your insurance company right away!
What should you do if you’re going to be away?
The very first thing you should do if you know your property is going to be unoccupied is to tell your insurance broker of the situation so they can make sure you have the right coverage. If your property is unoccupied for more than three days, and there is damage, your insurance provider may not cover it, and you’ll have to pay for the damage out of pocket.
In this case, your broker can advise what your best course of action will be and determine if you need a coverage extension or permit to continue your insurance coverage. There may be some paperwork that needs to be signed, so you might have to go into your broker’s office, but you can always check if a phone call or email conversation is possible for this.
Do you need to do anything else?
You may need to confirm that you have shut off the water to the vacant property, locked the doors and windows and that someone will be responsible for the general maintenance of the property when you aren’t there to do it.
You may also want to arrange for someone you trust to regularly check your home and make sure everything is okay (and pick up the mail, if there is any).
Being just a little proactive with a vacant property can save you a lot of headaches and potential costs out of your pocket in the long run. When it comes to a vacant or unoccupied home, talk to your insurance broker as soon as you can to discuss the specifics of your situation and what you will need. Your broker will help you get a vacancy permit (if you need it) so you have peace of mind that your property will stay safe. Remember—when in doubt, call your broker!
One of the most common reasons for a denied claim is a vacant home situation where the individual has failed to notify the insurance company that the home is vacant. So, always make sure to contact your insurance company as soon as you know your property will be unoccupied or vacant. For more information on home insurance or to get a free quote, contact ICD Insurance today.