There will be times when a homeowner would need to spend some time away from their home. Whether it is an extended vacation, an unplanned lockdown away from the house, or you are about to have a home renovation, leaving your house unoccupied for several days can affect your home insurance policy.
Here is what you should know about it.
Defining an “Unoccupied Home” in the Insurance Setting
According to the Insurance Information Institute, an unoccupied house is "a house that is not lived in by anyone—owner, tenant, renter or boarder—for at least 30 consecutive days."
However, the definition is not so straightforward.
There is no standard definition of an unoccupied home in the insurance industry. Some companies consider any period of unoccupied home to trigger a special endorsement to the homeowner's insurance policy. In contrast, others will provide coverage as long as someone is home at least once a week to keep the utilities in good working order.
For example, if no one is staying in the house for a long holiday, it is not considered unoccupied by the insurance company, especially if you can prove that someone visits the home at least once a week. But if there is no one at home or visiting, it is generally considered an unoccupied property by the insurance industry.
Reasons People Stay Away From Their Home for a Long Time
Travel: People tend to go on vacations for about 7 to 14 days. However, sometimes, if the destination is far and the trip will be a long one, some people may stay away for about 30 to 60 days.
Shut Down: One of the most common reasons for an unoccupied home is a home renovation. Some people decide to shut down the house to conduct renovations, while others might be forced to do so because they cannot continue to live in an unsafe home.
Medical Treatment: Some hospital treatments and conditions call for longer stays at the hospital. They needed to stay in the facility for monitoring and complete recovery.
Unplanned Lockdown: Sometimes, a homeowner might have to temporarily stay away from the house, such as when they are in jail or contracted COVID-19.
How Unoccupied Homes Affect Insurance
Most insurance providers set their limit for unoccupied houses because of the high risk it brings to the house's condition.
It's impossible to predict when a home will be unoccupied, and it can be an expensive proposition to insure a vacant house. Not only does a house stand a greater risk of burglary and vandalism, but there is also the potential for environmental hazards such as mould to develop.
Some insurance companies limit the amount of time considered “unoccupied” to five days or less, and most provide no coverage if the house is unoccupied for a number of consecutive days.
What You Should Do If You Plan to Leave Home for Several Days
If you plan on being away from home for more than five days as defined by your insurance company, you should speak to your insurance company and find out if you need to purchase an Unoccupied Home endorsement.
Otherwise, your insurance company might not cover your house fully in case of any damage. Also, you should check what to do if you have a vacation home or rental property that is vacant while you are away. Ensure that you get it insured and that the insurance company knows you will be away.
There are several reasons for an unoccupied home, and one cannot predict them. That's why it's crucial to find out your insurance company's policy on unoccupied homes.
If you plan on being away from home for more than five days, you should speak to your insurance company and find out if you need to purchase an Unoccupied Home endorsement. You should also check what you should do if you have a vacation home or rental property that is vacant.
New Wave Insurance offers home & contents insurance on the Gold Coast to protect a homeowner from situations like this. This policy will protect you against your house damage and destruction, whether from accidents, natural disasters, etc. Contact us to learn more.