How Much Does Vacant Home Insurance Cost?

by Rachel Elle
House insurance form for homeowners and model of home.

Fire, theft and leaking pipes that flood your basement are all issues that can cost you significantly and hurt your quality of living. That's why insurance exists — to offer widespread protection against the worst a homeowner can experience. But what if trouble occurs in a vacant property? 

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Believe it or not, vacant homes are at risk of many of the same challenges as primary residences, and skimping on insurance can cause big problems. If you own a property that's not being lived in, whether you're in the process of flipping it, taking a long vacation or in between renters, vacant home insurance is a must for savvy property owners. 

What Is Vacant Home Insurance and What Does It Cover?

Simply put, vacant home insurance, also called unoccupied home insurance, is an insurance policy designed to cover properties that aren't being lived in. Generally, a home that's empty for at least 30 to 60 days is considered vacant for insurance purposes.

It may sound counterintuitive, since primary residences are full of valuable possessions, but vacant home insurance is actually intended to cover a higher level of damages. For example, if a plumbing leak floods a vacant house, it might take days or even weeks for anyone to notice, resulting in much higher repair costs. Slower emergency response times, prolonged possibility of problems without repair plans and increased opportunity for squatters or vandals can make this kind of coverage more comprehensive and vital to property safety. 

You may need vacant home insurance if:

  • You own a vacation home that isn't used most of the year.
  • You own multiple properties and rotate between them throughout the year.
  • You plan to travel out of the state or country for several weeks at a time throughout the year.
  • You're in and out of the hospital and spend weeks away from home getting treatment.
  • You aren't living in your home while extensive renovations are taking place.
  • You have rental properties that are in between tenants.

Note that these policies are generally available on a short-term basis if needed. If you'll be traveling for three months, for example, you can get a policy covering this time period. Policies usually come in three-month increments, but this can vary based on the insurance provider. Plans may be able to function as a stand-alone policy or as a rider on an existing home insurance policy. 

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How Much Does Vacant Home Insurance Cost?

As with most things in the insurance world, there's no one answer to how much vacant home insurance might cost. Many factors play a role, including:

  • The location of the property
  • The value of the homes surrounding the property
  • The age of the property
  • The assessed value of the property
  • What the property is generally used for

When creating a policy, insurance companies may also ask about the reason for vacancy, evaluate the state of the property and assess safety measures, such as locks and alarm systems, before giving a quote.

In general, vacant home insurance costs at least 50% more than standard home insurance and can go as high as 150% more. This is due to the risk of costlier damage that can occur as a result of problems that may take longer to notice and address. Better-maintained properties being left for reasons with set end dates, such as a vacation, will likely cost less to insure, while properties that will be left unoccupied for undetermined amounts of time and have fewer safety measures in place will generally cost more. 

For comparison, you can assume that standard home insurance costs about $120 per month for a $250,000 policy. (Data from Bankrate.)

Finding the cheapest vacant home insurance might sound compelling, but before picking a plan, make sure it provides the coverage you need. The costs of property damage can far outweigh insurance premiums, so be sure you're doing what's right for your property as well as your wallet. 

If you own a house you don't expect to live in, either now or indefinitely, insurance coverage is a must. With an unoccupied house insurance policy, you can rest assured that your property will be protected, no matter how long you plan to stay away. 

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