What is a vacant dwelling?
A dwelling will be deemed vacant when its occupants have left and do not have any intention of returning. It may also be a new dwelling that you have not yet moved into or that you are renting out and currently does not have any tenants. A dwelling may still be furnished and be considered vacant.
Why is it so critical for my insurance broker to know that my property is vacant?
It is very important that you contact your insurance broker as soon as possible because there are some coverage’s that no longer apply once a dwelling becomes vacant. Most insurance companies will only insure a vacant property for up to 30 days. A vacancy permit is required after that period of time. If you have a Comprehensive Homeowners or Broad Form policy it would be changed. A vacancy permit will limit or reduce coverage as a result of the new status of the home. Coverage will be restricted to the basics like fire and eliminate important coverage like water damage, among others. The change of coverage is due to the fact that insurance companies see a higher risk when a home is not occupied. The vacancy permit can potentially increase your premium or require you to pay a higher deductible in the event of a loss. If you do not have a vacancy permit then your home may become completely uninsured and any loss that occurs during the time of vacancy will be denied in a claim. Be sure to ask your broker questions to ensure that you have a full understanding of the changes to your policy.
What steps do I need to take in order to ensure that our vacant dwelling is protected?
It is critical that you make the dwelling look occupied. Here are some steps that you can take in order to ensure that your vacant dwelling looks as though it is being lived in.
1. Put lights on a timer
2. Cover all windows with proper curtains and/or blinds
3. Ensure that all windows and doors are quipped with adequate locks and consider installing a monitored alarm
4. Make sure that the property is well-maintained by regularly mowing the lawn, removing snow, and checking the mail
5. Have someone that you trust, if not yourself, check on the dwelling 1-2 times per week, both inside and out
6. Turn off the water valve and ensure that the water pipes have been drained to avoid freezing and/or bursting
7. Make sure that the furnace is running properly during the winter months
If you have any questions or concerns regarding vacancies and/or how the coverage under your policy may change, please contact our office. We would be more than happy to discuss the options that you may have. At Morison Insurance we want to ensure that you and your family are adequately protected.
– Written by our brokers Sara and Grace
This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Please call our Morison Insurance brokers at 1-800-463-8074 for more information.