When you think of a vacant property do you think of an abandoned building with windows shuttered over with plywood and an unkempt yard?
A vacant dwelling occurs when your home to your knowledge, has been vacant for more than thirty consecutive days. There is usually no intention of the occupants returning. Examples of this could be an elderly owner admitted to a health care facility, a real estate deal that has fallen through or been delayed, or an owner who has died leaving the home empty for the estate trustee to manage the next steps. It is important to note that maintaining the property and frequent visitations to the property do not qualify the dwelling as being occupied or no longer vacant.
Vacant properties are more susceptible to vandalism, water damage and arson. If your property is vacant, you will want to ensure the dwelling has a 'lived in' appearance. For example, sidewalks should be shoveled, junk mail cleared away and lawns should be cut. Water pipes should be drained, the water supply shut off, and consideration given to the installation of an alarm system. Loss and damage is no longer insured once a dwelling is vacant.
If in doubt of what your policy covers, always contact the company that insures your property. It is important to notify your insurance representative as soon as possible to avoid any gaps in coverage resulting in uninsured losses. Some insurance company offer a form of a vacancy permit, and depends on the situation. It allows the premises to be unoccupied beyond what was originally outlined in your original agreement with them, and some liabilities will no longer be covered even with the vacancy permit, such as freezing pipes, sewer back up and vandalism.
Always, talk with your insurance company to know exactly what you are covered for and especially for what you are not.