Vacant home insurance is a special type of coverage designed for homes that are unoccupied for an extended period of time — typically more than 30 or 60 days. A standard home insurance policy explicitly states that homes are not covered against theft and vandalism if they’ve been vacant for more than 60 days. If that’s the case for you, you’ll need to purchase vacant and unoccupied homeowners insurance to ensure you’re fully covered.
What is vacant and unoccupied home insurance?
Vacant and unoccupied home insurance is a type of niche homeowners insurance product that is designed to cover homes that are uninhabited for months at a time. Vacant home insurance can protect your home against vandalism, burglary, and some weather-related damage — though it varies by insurer.
Vacant and unoccupied homeowners insurance can either be purchased as a standalone policy or added as a coverage endorsement to your standard homeowners insurance policy for an additional premium — again, it all depends on the company.
Why doesn’t homeowners insurance cover vacant or unoccupied homes?
Homeowners insurance is designed to cover primary residences, or homes that are occupied full time. If your home is vacant for weeks or months on end, then it’s at heightened risk of sustained damage from certain hazards like house fires and burst pipes, since no one is home to report the damage or alert the authorities. Unoccupied homes are also more susceptible to burglary and vandalism.
A standard homeowners insurance policy specifically points out that homes vacant for more than 60 days are not covered for theft or vandalism, but it’s not uncommon for insurers to extend that exclusion to other causes of loss like fire and water damage.
When do I need vacant and unoccupied home insurance?
If you’re planning on your home being empty or vacant for longer than 60 days, you’ll need vacant and unoccupied homeowners insurance to be sufficiently covered.
Here are a few different scenarios when you’d want to consider this type of policy for your house:
Your home is undergoing renovations. If you’re making some pretty drastic improvements to your home that requires you to move out for an extended stretch of time, contact your insurer to see if you need to modify your coverage.
You’re renting or selling your home. If you moved out of your house before selling it or you use the home as a rental property but it’s vacant during the off season, you’ll likely need speciality insurance protection like vacant home insurance to ensure you’re fully covered.
The house is a vacation home. If you only use the home as a vacation getaway or a secondary home for a few months out of the year, you’ll likely purchase what is referred to as second home insurance. But if you don’t anticipate you’ll be using the property for an extended period, contact your insurer to see if you need a more specialized policy to cover the vacant premises.
You have an extended hospital stay. If you anticipate that you’ll be in the hospital for weeks or potentially months because of a medical procedure, you may want to look into vacant home insurance while you’re away. Be sure to first talk to your insurer about your predicament — they may make an exception and allow you to keep your standard policy on the home.
How much does vacant and unoccupied home insurance cost?
While rates will vary by insurer, you can generally expect to pay anywhere from 25% to 50% more for vacant home insurance than you would for a standard home insurance policy, according to Policygenius experts. Since the average cost of home insurance is $1,754 per year, that means you could end up paying as much as around $2,848 per year.
That said, there are many factors that impact home insurance rates, like:
Your home’s location
Your home’s construction type
Discounts you qualify for, like a discount for installing home security system
Your deductible amount
Most vacant home insurance policies are paid for up front on an annual basis with prorated premiums depending on how long you use the policy. That means if you cancel your coverage after four months, your insurer should reimburse you for the last eight months of the policy term.
How to buy vacant and unoccupied home insurance
Many large insurance companies offer vacant home insurance coverage options. Below are some steps to take when buying vacant and unoccupied home insurance.
Determine if you need it. Before purchasing vacant and unoccupied home insurance, make sure that it’s something you actually need. If you’re leaving town for a month, you likely don't need to purchase this coverage. Check with your homeowners insurance company to learn what their protocol is when it comes to vacant and unoccupied homes.
Check if your homeowners insurance company offers vacant home endorsements. Before purchasing a separate policy, talk to your current homeowners insurance company to learn if they offer vacant home coverage. If they do, you may simply need to add this coverage to your current homeowners policy for an additional fee.
Shop around and compare insurers. If you need to buy a separate vacant and unoccupied home policy, make sure you shop around and compare different insurers. The agents at Policygenius can help you compare companies that offer vacant and unoccupied home insurance to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Choose your policy and pay your premiums. Once you sign your policy, most vacant and unoccupied insurers require you to pay your premiums upfront in full. As mentioned, if you cancel your policy you should receive a refund for the remaining months.
4 vacant and unoccupied home insurance companies
Below are a few insurers that offer vacant home endorsements or policies — though costs and coverage levels will vary.
1. State Farm
State Farm doesn’t cover homes that have been uninhabited for more than 30 days. However, they do offer a vacancy endorsement that you can add to your standard policy ahead-of-time, which you can then cancel upon returning to or selling your home.
Farmers offers vacant home insurance policies for up to 12 months with an easy cancellation option — if you cancel before the year is up, you’ll receive a refund of any unused premiums.
Foremost specializes in insuring high-risk homes, including vacant ones. Foremost’s vacant home policies contain named perils coverage, liability coverage, and a prorated cancellation option if you wish to cancel your policy before year is up.
4. American Family
AmFam offers vacant home insurance policies in terms of three, six, or 12 months. You can also add personal property coverage to your vacant home policy for items that are used to maintain your property — like a snowblower or lawnmower.