Vacant and Unoccupied Properties: What Does Your Insurance Cover?

2 minute read Published on Jul 30, 2015 | Last updated Mar 1, 2021 by BrokerLink Communications

Recently, there have been several news stories surrounding the concept of vacant properties and claims. If you are planning on leaving your property unattended or inhabited, having the correct insurance coverage in place is critical to protect you in the event of an incident.

No matter the time of year, it is always important to disclose to your broker that your property will be empty.

Whether you’re leaving for a weekend, week or month it’s important to know the difference between vacant and unoccupied properties and what situations fall under each category.


If you are leaving your property but have a set return date, your property is deemed unoccupied. This could be a week-long vacation or travelling for several months.


If there is no longer someone who is consistently living on the property it is deemed vacant.

Maybe you have a rental unit and there is a gap between tenants, or you have purchased and moved into a new home and your former house is empty while you wait for it to sell. These are situations where the property would be considered vacant by insurance standards.

If a property is deemed “vacant” you need to make arrangements for a vacancy permit which outlines the limited coverage available due to the increased risk of potential damage. A vacancy permit offers basic protection against major risks, such as fire. Policy conditions can vary but there is typically no coverage for vandalism, theft or water damage effective from the first day that the property is vacant, even if you notified your broker of your absence.

Depending on the situation the permit can potentially increase your premium or require you to pay a higher deductible in the event of an incident. Be sure to ask you broker about this when creating an insurance solution that meets your needs.

You should follow the same principles when it comes to leaving your home business. Many of the same coverage stipulations apply.

How we can help

If you’re not sure which of these categories your situation falls under it is best to contact your BrokerLink broker. By advising them of your plans and the length of time you plan on being away they can determine the insurance requirements for your particular situation. Your broker will ensure you have the appropriate coverage and explain any conditions or limitations that may be under your policy.

How to protect yourself

Regardless of whether your property is unoccupied or vacant, you may be required to inspect or have someone check your property regularly so you insurance remains valid. We have put together a few points to consider to help reduce the risks associated with unattended properties. We encourage you to take proactive measures to always err on the side of caution. Have someone you trust check on your home or set a timer for your lights to make it appear as if someone is home.

Know before you go and contact your BrokerLink broker to ensure you are left with no surprises.