What is Vacant Home Insurance? Plus! I Need Your Help Finding a Policy ASAP!

by Kevin on February 14, 2011

I’ve told the saga of moving back closer to our families ever since we made the decision to move back in December of last year. It’s been, in my humble opinion, great blogging material because there are a lot of moving parts involved with relocating your family and everything you own. I hope it has been beneficial to read for all of you.

We had a lot of things planned out with our move that went fairly smooth, but every now and then we run into a frustrating hiccup. It’s like my Dad always said: It’s always something…”

Boy, was he right!

What we’re dealing with right now is insuring our home while we don’t live there. It’s called vacant home insurance, and I need your help finding a good policy. Please read on and leave a comment if you’ve been through this process before.

What is Vacant Home Insurance?

It is exactly as it sounds. It’s homeowners insurance to cover your property when it is not your permanent residence. If you’ve moved and the house is vacant while up for sale or you have a vacation home that you visit every summer you need vacant home insurance.

It’s an insurance policy that covers the dwelling only unless you add various riders to cover specific belongings. The policy usually includes a range of liability insurance so if someone breaks into your home and gets hurt in the process they can’t sue you. (It’s okay if the idea of a burglar being able to sue you makes you shake your head in shame at our legal system.)

As with regular homeowners insurance the policy comes with limits of how much loss is covered and your deductible of choice can vary the cost.

How is Vacant Home Insurance Different from Regular Home Insurance?

Regular homeowners insurance is designed to cover you and your belongings in your permanent residence. If your home burns to the ground you can rebuild, pay to have a place to live, and buy new possessions.

Vacant home insurance doesn’t offer the same coverage. Your belongings are usually not covered, and coverage to pay for rent or a hotel while your home is rebuilt is not included.

What I learned in this process is that your normal homeowners insurance policy allows the home to be vacant a certain period of time (usually 30 to 60 days; ours is 60 days) before the policy is canceled. That means if you move and leave a home behind you need to buy new insurance to cover the home until it is sold.

How Expensive is Vacant Home Insurance?

What I’ve discovered in my brief research (I got a quote from two companies) is a vacant home insurance policy is about three times as expensive as a regular homeowners policy. When we were doing the math on leaving our house behind (unrented) we didn’t have this number in our calculations. We’re looking at adding another $100 per month into our costs to leave the house behind.

It’s not a budget buster, but the dollars keep piling up. It’s always something…

Contrast this tripled cost of a normal policy with a landlord policy: only about $200 more per year ($16 per month). The chips keep getting stacked up on the “rent your house” side of the equation…

One thing that was noted by the company I received a quote from was that you can cancel the policy at any time, but they will keep at least $100 of what you gave them. Normally if you order insurance today and cancel tomorrow you’ll get nearly all of the premium back. I’m guessing this clause is in place because you could order vacant insurance today and sell the home tomorrow (and need to cancel the policy). Since these seem to be niche firms they don’t do enough volume to be able to eat costs from ordering and canceling policies all the time. In short, I’m fine with the rule since after one month of coverage you’ve already spent at least $100.

Who are the Most Reputable Vacant Home Insurance Companies?

This is where I need your help! Unlike car insurance there aren’t advertisements on television all the time talking about low rates and great coverage for vacant homes. I did a quick Google search and only came up with two firms on the first page of results:¬†American Modern Insurance Group and Foremost. I received a quote from the former, and our current insurance company recommended the latter.

Are these the best two options? Do you have experience with either firm? Was the process simple? Did you have to file a claim?

If you have ANY experience with this please drop me a comment. This is one area where I have a distinct lack of knowledge, and I need your assistance in making the right move!

{ 7 comments }

keri February 14, 2011 at 8:32 am

I’ve been there – we had to buy vacant home insurance when we were selling our home in New Orleans which took over a year. We had to use Scottsdale High Risk Management. They were the only ones who would write such a “high risk policy” according to them. Because it’s empty, there is a risk of a pipe bursting or people breaking in and stealing the AC or copper in the walls.

The cost was insane 3X as much as the regular policy. Over 3,800 a year for New Orleans. We haven’t had to file a claim so I can’t comment on that front. The house is supposed to close at the end of this month and then we can cancel it.

We used a insurance agent through our bank, whitney bank/whitney insurance who did all the legwork of finding the best rates/terms for us.

One thing you may be able to negotiate/be aware of is that high risk policies have weird cancellation policies. They usually lock you in for atleast 3 months as a guaranteed premium. Make sure to commit for the minimum (usually 6 months) so that if your house sells you’re not locked in for a longer guarantee.

Good luck!

Kevin February 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Thank you for the advice! I will definitely look over the cancellation policy. The person I spoke to said they only kept $100 regardless, so here’s to hoping that is actually true…

Marguerite February 14, 2011 at 8:39 am

If you’ve had any immediate family in the military, USAA has awesome insurance and usually very good rates.

Kevin February 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Right, but do they offer vacant home insurance?

Vick February 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I read that Statefarm offers this insurance too is you want to shop around some more.

Brad Young June 7, 2016 at 3:33 pm

State Farm doesn’t offer vacant home insurance. In fact, after 11 years with them (no claims), they will not renew my insurance because the home is for sale. I have found only American Modern and Foremost. Foremost has a minimum 3 month policy, while Foremost expects payment for one year in advance and will refund if you cancel, minus a “minimum period”.

Julie July 29, 2013 at 4:04 pm

USAA does NOT offer vacant home insurance. I should know – I just got a letter of cancellation from them today. Which surprised me because their main niche is military families that move around a lot and often have to leave behind a home that hasn’t sold yet.

Comments on this entry are closed.