Vacant vs. Unoccupied Homes: What’s the Difference?

| 2024.03.13
Vacant vs. unoccupied homes: what’s the difference?

If you live in Alberta and own a home, you most likely have a home insurance policy. Although home insurance is not a legal requirement in Alberta or even Canada as a whole, most mortgage lenders require it before they will give you a loan.

Under your home insurance policy, there are also two additional risks that you need to be aware of that could impact it. One is when your home is vacant, and the other is when your home is unoccupied.

Understanding Vacant Homes:

Vacant homes are when no one resides in the house, and there are no or very few furnishings.

You could have a vacant home if you’re in the middle of selling it or renovating it, or maybe you just bought the house but haven’t moved in yet. Another situation could be that you have a home that you rent out but are in between tenants. There is a great risk of a claim occurring due to the increased risk of no one living in the home.

There is a greater risk of water damage, vandalism, or even fire as something may occur and go unnoticed for a longer period of time, allowing damage to grow.

Therefore, insurance for vacant homes will cost more, but it’s essential to keep your property safe during these times.

Important Tips to Keep In Mind When Your Home is Vacant:

  • Contact your Insurance Company: Most insurance policies will have an exclusion that if the home is vacant and the insurance company is not made aware of the vacancy, there will be no coverage. It is the responsibility of the insured to notify the insurance company of the vacancy.

  • Security Systems: When your home is vacant, there is a greater chance of someone wanting to break in. Although there may not be a lot of personal belongings in the home, intruders may cause a lot of damage through vandalism or use it for squatting. This will not be covered by most insurance policies. If you have a security system, this will help to reduce intruders.

  • Undetected Issues: Minor issues go undetected when your home is vacant. Problems like an electrical issue or a small leak can become problems if no one is there to observe them.

    A number of security systems are available to help notify you if an issue arises. In addition, turning off the water while you are gone and draining the pipes can help limit water damage.

  • Checking the home: If you are not able to check on the home on a regular basis then you should arrange for someone to do this. It could be a friend or a management company.

What Is an Unoccupied Home?

If you own a furnished home, but no one is staying in the house i.e. you and your family are on an extended vacation (snowbirds or mission trip), live on your own but are away on a temporary job assignment, or you’re away due to a hospital stay, your home may be classified as unoccupied.

Even though the house isn’t empty, the fact that it’s not being lived in regularly could mean, there is no coverage on your home.

Important Tips to Keep In Mind When Your Home is Unoccupied:

  • Contact your Insurance Company: If your home is unoccupied for more than 30 days, you may not have coverage under your insurance policy. Contact your insurance company to discuss the circumstances, and they will provide you with proper guidance.

  • Security System: Consider installing a security system. This will reduce the chance of someone breaking into the home. It also lets you know if there is an intruder sooner, and you can respond to the situation immediately. Many security systems provide you with a warning through an app on details if there is water damage or potentially a flood in your house, allowing you to address the situation sooner.

  • Water Damage: Water damage is a major issue when homes are unoccupied, as pipes burst due to freezing or other reasons. When no one is in the home, the water can run on for a long time until it is noticed, causing major damage. By making sure that you have someone check on the home and/or a security system in the home this will help to prevent major damage. In addition, turning off the water and draining the pipes while you are gone can help limit water damage.

  • Checking the home: Having a friend or family check on the home regularly while you are away is a great way to minimize damage in your home and make sure that your insurance policy will respond in the event of a claim.

Key Differences to Remember

The difference between vacant and unoccupied home insurance is vacant homes are empty–with no furnishings. An unoccupied home is one where the inhabitants are temporarily away, and no one lives in the house, but it has furnishings.

These risks deal with homes without regular occupancy. You need to understand these differences to protect your property and ensure your home in Alberta is well-protected against unforeseen circumstances.

Choosing the Right Coverage with MMI Insurance

Finding the right house insurance in Alberta doesn’t have to be overwhelming. At MMI Insurance, we’re experts in matching homeowners with the right insurance policy for their specific situation.

Your Protection is Our Priority

MMI Insurance doesn’t just sell insurance policies to homeowners like you. We’re committed to providing peace of mind by offering expert advice and comprehensive coverage options. We understand the Alberta insurance market, which qualifies us to ensure your property is always secure.

Ready to Secure Your Property?

Are you in the market for home insurance coverage? Call MMI Insurance at 866-222-6996 or contact us here to get a quote!