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413.586.6481 (fax)
8 North King Street
Northampton, MA 01060


4Apr. 2016

Not Home? Make Sure Your Property’s Covered.

If you’ve moved into a new home and have the old one on the market, or you’re making extended travel plans, I suggest you check in with your insurance carrier or agent to make sure your house will not be considered vacant. A vacant home could be an unprotected one.

In the eyes of your insurance carrier, homes are either occupied, unoccupied or vacant, and each scenario has different ramifications in terms of your coverage. The short story is that if your home is furnished, you are protected, but we want to call your attention to the gray areas.

An unoccupied home is one that is temporarily uninhabited, while the owners travel, for instance, intending to return. To be considered unoccupied, a home must contain a sofa, a bed and cooking appliances and be a functional dwelling.

A vacant home is one that is entirely empty, sans personal belongings and property.

Gray areas crop up in situations when the named insurer on a homeowner policy passes away, thus rendering the home permanently unoccupied, or when a homeowner moves out during an extensive renovation. These are good reasons to contact your insurance agent or carrier.

If you don’t make the call, and you later make a claim, you may find your coverage is jeopardized. Vacant or unoccupied homes are a bigger risk to insurance carriers because they are unmonitored, allowing fire or water damage to go unnoticed.

I offer up some facts to bear in mind:

• In the case of a home that is on the market and unoccupied, carriers will oftentimes allow 30 to 60 days for it to sell before cancelling coverage.
• There is a vacancy clause in standard homeowners’ policies outlining that after 30 days, there is no vandalism coverage; after 60 days, there is no fire coverage.
• Policies covering an unoccupied or vacant home are significantly more expensive and contain stipulations, such as, in winter months, a requirement to drain pipes or keep the heat at 55 degrees.
• A homeowner should consider renting a vacant or unoccupied home since insurance on an occupied dwelling is significantly less than on a vacant home.
• A seasonal home is not considered unoccupied but should be monitored regularly. If a loss occurs while owners are away, insurance companies will be very leery about continuing to insure the home.

If you’re a homeowner in transition, give us a call so we can help you sort out the details and ensure you are protected.


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