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Unoccupied and Vacant Home Insurance: Everything You Need to Know

Dana George
By: Dana George

Our Insurance Expert

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Whether you've inherited a home or have a second home that you visit on occasion, each property needs to be protected. That's where unoccupied home insurance and vacant home insurance coverage comes in. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about unoccupied and vacant home insurance and review some of the best companies that offer this protection.

  • Foremost Insurance
  • American Family
  • American Modern Insurance

What is unoccupied and vacant home insurance?

Like traditional home insurance coverage, a policy written on an unoccupied home or vacation home is put in place to protect the property in the event of a catastrophe. Say a vacation home catches fire while the homeowner is away or the unoccupied home sustains storm damage. A homeowners policy will cover the cost of repairs.

Homeowners can purchase a policy that fits their time frame, too. For example, if they plan to sell a home they've inherited in the next few months, they can often purchase a policy for a three-, six-, or 12-month term.

Who needs unoccupied or vacant home insurance?

Anyone who would be responsible for repairing a home following a catastrophe needs homeowners coverage for an unoccupied or vacant home.

How do I know if my home is considered unoccupied or vacant?

Typically, a home is considered vacant once it has been left empty for 30 to 60 days. It's important to understand that most insurance companies will not provide full coverage for a home that has been left vacant for that long. Fortunately, some do offer vacant dwelling insurance.

What does vacant property insurance cover?

Like typical homeowners insurance, vacant property insurance covers things like wind and hail damage, fire, lightning strikes, and explosions. It also covers losses resulting from theft and extended damage to the property due to the time it takes for the homeowner to notice there's a problem (more on that in a moment).

How to buy unoccupied and vacant home insurance?

Not every insurer provides vacant or unoccupied house insurance. The first place for a homeowner to check is with the insurance company they already use for coverage, such as their primary home or auto insurance. If that company does not provide coverage for unoccupied or vacant homes, they will need to expand their search.

Best companies for vacant home insurance

Here are several companies that regularly provide unoccupied and vacant home insurance:

Foremost Insurance

Foremost Insurance, available in all 50 states, is part of the Farmers Insurance family. Foremost Insurance makes getting coverage easy by walking the homeowner through the paperwork and allowing them to cancel the policy whenever they're ready. Better yet, they reimburse the homeowner the prorated amount for cancellation. Also, Foremost allows homeowners to renew their coverage for up to four years.

American Family

While American Family Insurance is only available in 19 states, they do offer comprehensive home insurance for an Airbnb property and vacant homes. In addition to basic vacant home insurance coverage, American Family allows customers to add coverage for extras, like structures on the property and items such as lawn mowers, snow blowers, rakes, or anything else used to maintain the property. Policy lengths range from 3 to 12 months, depending on the homeowner's plans for the property.

American Modern Insurance

American Modern is available in all 50 states. The company provides vacancy coverage for up to a year on properties that meet their criteria (for example, it can't be larger than a four-family building and, in most states, cannot be worth more than $500,000). Coverage includes losses for events such as fire, lightning, wind, and hail. One thing to consider is that American Modern settles claims at the actual cash value, meaning they take depreciation into account following a loss.

Average cost of vacant home insurance

Homeowners can almost certainly expect to pay more to insure a vacant home, due to all that can happen in their absence. According to Fit Small Business, the average cost of vacant home insurance is 50% to 150% more than a traditional homeowners policy. The premium is based on things like the age of the home, where it's located, and the length of vacancy.

Let's say it would cost $1,200 a year to insure a full occupied home. Vacant home insurance is likely to run between $1,800 and $3,000 for an annual policy.

Why is vacant home insurance so expensive?

This type of policy is unique, because it covers issues that occupied homes don't normally experience. For example, if there's a storm and water seeps into the house, there may be no one around to immediately notice. That means there's more time for the water to damage the structure of the house, as well as any furnishings it reaches. Vacant home insurance takes into account the fact that problems may be worse by the time they're discovered and could cost considerably more to repair.

Another thing vacant home insurance covers is theft, due to the fact that a vacant home is more likely to be broken into than an occupied property.

How to save on unoccupied and vacant home insurance?

Naturally, when a person is spending more for a vacant home insurance policy than coverage on a traditional home, they'll want to know ways to keep the costs down. Here are some of them:

  • Be prepared to give a reason for vacancy. For example, if the homeowner is renovating and has a firm "sell date" in mind, they will likely receive a less expensive premium quote than someone who doesn't know how long the home will be vacant.
  • Get the property into shape. The better shape the house is in, the lower the premium rate is likely to be.
  • Add safety features. Just like safety features for homeowners insurance can bring rates down, having a security system added and deadbolt locks installed on exterior doors can lower vacant home insurance premiums.
  • Check with your current insurer. Homeowners can frequently save money by bundling insurance products.
  • Let insurers know if someone is monitoring the property. Whether it's a contractor, real estate agent, or neighbor who has agreed to regularly check in, insurers like the idea of knowing that someone is keeping an eye out for problems.

How to keep a vacant or unoccupied home safe

Any steps you take to keep the property safe can save money. Here are a few ways you can keep your unoccupied home safe:

  • Arrange for someone to check on the house periodically.
  • Hire someone to make it look as though you're living there. For example, pay someone to mow the lawn, pull weeds, or snowblow the driveway.
  • Remove food items from the house that could draw pests.
  • Make sure all windows and doors are securely locked.
  • Turn off and unplug appliances to cut down on the risk of fire.
  • Keep the temperature ambient (68º to 72º) to avoid freezing, swelling, and other issues that arise with extreme temperature changes.
  • Invest in a security system.

Whether or not someone plans to live full-time on a property they own, it's theirs to insure. At minimum, a homeowner should purchase enough coverage to rebuild or replace in the event of a catastrophe.


  • "Unoccupied" refers to a home that no one has lived in for 30-60 days, but there is still furniture and other furnishings there. "Vacant" means it's empty, with no tenants and no contents. Typically, leaving a home unoccupied is temporary. In either case, the homeowner needs insurance coverage that protects them against loss.

  • Yes, although it is likely to cost more than insuring a home that is lived in full-time. Not only can a vacant house be insured, but it should be insured to protect the owner from financial loss in the event of fire, storm, theft, or other unexpected catastrophe.

  • The number of days varies, but a home is normally considered unoccupied when the residents have been gone between 30 and 60 days.

  • Whereas vacant home insurance protects home and furnishings, vacant land insurance is a form of liability coverage that exists to protect the land owner's financial interest if anyone gets hurt on their property.

  • Anyone who owns vacant land should consider insurance coverage on the property. Here's why: Vacant land insurance provides liability coverage if someone is doing something like hunting, fishing, hiking, or driving ATVs and is injured on the property. To offer an idea of how little vacant land coverage can cost, a landowner can purchase vacant land insurance for as little as $20 to $30 per month.

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