Vacant Home Insurance

8 minute read Published on Dec 19, 2022 by BrokerLink Communications

Empty living area and kitchen inside of a new modern home. The sun shines through lare windows in the living area.

Looking for vacant home insurance? BrokerLink is here. We can help you protect your home when no one is living there. Read on to learn more about how vacant home insurance works in Canada.

Vacant home insurance defined

Unlike typical homeowners insurance, which is designed for a lived-in home, vacant home insurance aims to protect homes without current residents. Such homes often face a higher risk of damage and theft, which is why they require a unique insurance policy. It’s also worth noting that many standard home insurance policies do not cover a home when it is left vacant beyond a certain period of time. Generally, this vacancy period is 30 days, which means if you plan to travel or move away from home for over a month, your coverage may not be applicable should something go wrong. This is what’s known as the 30-day unoccupancy rule. If your home is unoccupied for more than 30 days, your insurance company can deny your claim in the event of an incident and could even void your entire home insurance policy. To avoid such serious penalties, make sure to notify your insurance company or broker about your absence before or within the 30-day period.

Unoccupied vs. vacant homes

It is worth noting that in insurance terms, “unoccupied” and “vacant” are not one and the same. Though the exact definition of each will vary between insurance companies, an unoccupied home is usually one that can be lived in at any time and that the homeowner intends to reside in down the line (e.g. if your family is taking an extended summer holiday and you will be gone for a couple of months, it is considered unoccupied). In the case of unoccupied homes, you may not need to purchase vacant home insurance as many insurers allow policyholders to extend past the 30-day rule so long as you notify them.

On the other hand, vacant homes are properties that the homeowner does not intend to live in at all. The owner of a vacant home might shut off the utilities or remove all furniture. An example of a vacant home is a rental or investment property that is sitting on the market waiting to be rented out or sold. Vacant homes require separate home insurance policies. However, it’s important to note that not all insurance companies offer coverage for vacant homes due to the risks that come with them. Therefore, if you have a vacant home, we recommend working with a broker who can shop around on your behalf and find the right policy to suit your needs.

Insurance coverage for vacant homes

Vacant home insurance does not typically feature the same level of coverage as a standard home insurance policy. This is largely due to the fact that vacant homes come with more risk than lived-in homes. For this reason, perils like flood damage, window damage, and vandalism may not be covered by an insurance provider. To learn more about the level of coverage to expect from a vacant home insurance policy, contact BrokerLink today.

When is vacant home insurance important?

A lot can go wrong when your home is left unattended. From vandals and thieves to burst pipes, the risks of an incident go up when no one is living in your home. That is why vacant home insurance is so important. If you are on the fence about purchasing vacant home insurance, continue reading for a list of situations when vacant home insurance might be worthwhile:

  • You own a second holiday or vacation home that you visit occasionally
  • You recently bought a property but do not intend to move in for several months
  • You travel frequently and leave your home unoccupied for several weeks or months during your trips
  • You require medical treatment and will be hospitalized for several weeks or months
  • You are renovating your property and will not be living there while the work is being completed
  • Your home is up for rent, and you’re looking for tenants at the moment

Calculating the cost of vacant home insurance

By this point, you are probably wondering how much vacant home insurance costs. The reality is that vacant home insurance varies in price. That said, you can expect it to cost more than standard home insurance. Even though it usually features less coverage, the risks are greater due to the home being empty which affects your premium.

Insurance providers use many factors to calculate insurance premiums for vacant homes. The exact cost will depend on unique factors like the length of the vacancy, the reason for the vacancy, the time between property check-ins, and the security on the premises. Furthermore, the size and location of the home, your insurance claims history, and the coverages, limits, and policy deductibles you choose will also come into play, just as it does for regular home insurance.

When purchasing vacant home insurance, you should expect your insurance provider to ask about the following:

  • Whether you plan on selling or renting out your vacant home
  • The total length of time that the property will be vacant
  • Supervision of the property (will anyone be looking after it? How often will they be checking in on it?)
  • The reason for the vacancy of the property
  • The security of the property (e.g. are there any security systems installed on the property?)
  • Your plan for the property in the future
  • Your renovation plans for the property (if applicable)

Keep in mind that the cost of vacant home insurance can vary significantly according to your specific situation. It’s also worth noting that insurance brokers like BrokerLink do not set premiums. These are set by insurance companies. That said, if you want to obtain a free estimate on how much vacant home insurance will cost, get in touch and we would be happy to help. Beyond a free quote, the experts at BrokerLink can also provide some effective tips for saving money on vacant home insurance policies.

Vacancy permits

It is worth noting that not all insurance companies are willing to provide coverage for vacant homes. As such homes come with a lot more risk, they may decline to offer any sort of coverage for this situation. That said, sometimes insurance providers are willing to offer special insurance policies or what are referred to as vacancy permits to protect the property. Be sure to contact a broker to learn more about vacancy permits, including how they work and which insurance companies in Canada offer them.

Tips to protect your property while it is vacant

Beyond purchasing vacant home insurance, there are a few precautionary steps homeowners can take to ensure their home remains as safe as possible while vacant. Beyond the peace of mind that these precautionary steps can provide, taking them may also reduce the overall cost of your insurance policy, especially when factors like supervision or security systems are considered by insurance companies when calculating premiums. Here is a list of tips for protecting your vacant home:

  • Ask a friend, neighbour, or relative to check in on your property frequently (reminding them to take care of general maintenance like collecting any newspapers or mail and mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or shovelling the snow).
  • Install a sign on the front lawn that says, “Do Not Disturb the Occupant” or “For Sale by Appointment Only”.
  • Ask a neighbour to park their car in your driveway.
  • Install motion-activated security lights to deter criminals.
  • Set up a lamp on a timer near the windows, so it lights up at specific times throughout the day and night.
  • Install high-tech video cameras and a security alarm on your property (preferably ones that are IP-based so that they can be accessed remotely from wherever you are.
  • Install double-bolt locks on all entry doors and extra locks on windows.
  • Hire a private security firm to drive by your home frequently or a house sitter to look after the property while you are away.
  • Remove any high-value items from the home and store them in a safe, third-party location.

The benefits of buying vacant home insurance through an insurance broker

Save time and money by finding vacant home insurance through an insurance broker. The experts at BrokerLink are fully licenced, know the ins and outs of the home insurance industry, and will work to find you a great policy. Keep reading to discover three benefits of working with a broker:

Brokers operate independently of insurance companies

First, insurance brokers work independently of insurance companies. This allows us to put our customer’s needs above all else. We will make you our top priority, taking the time to listen to your unique needs so that we can find a vacant home insurance policy that meets them.

Brokers do the work for you

The second benefit of working with a BrokerLink insurance broker is that they do the work for you. From the moment you get in touch, your dedicated insurance advisor will be committed to finding you a great policy for your home. They will ask you questions about your needs, shop around on your behalf, and compare policies before presenting you with multiple great options.

Brokers have home insurance expertise

One last reason to work with a licenced BrokerLink insurance broker is the expertise they bring to the table. BrokerLink insurance advisors are fully licenced with years of experience helping residents just like you find quality vacant home insurance policies. Take advantage of our invaluable expertise and resources by getting in touch today.

How to purchase vacant home insurance from a BrokerLink insurance broker

If you are ready to purchase vacant home insurance from an insurance broker, follow the steps below. We promise the process couldn’t be easier!

1. Contact an insurance broker

The first step to finding the best coverage for your home at a competitive rate is to contact an insurance broker near you. BrokerLink is available to take your calls, answer your emails, or chat in person at any one of our locations across Canada. No matter how you choose to get in touch, a BrokerLink insurance expert can answer your questions, provide you with a free quote, and will take the time to understand your vacant home insurance needs.

2. We shop around on your behalf

The second step is to let us take care of everything. After taking the time to understand your needs, we will contact Canada’s top insurance providers to obtain quotes. From there, we will compare policies, unlock discounts, and provide you with several options.

3. You get a great rate on your vacant home insurance policy

The last step is for you to choose the vacant home insurance policy that best suits your needs and to purchase it. It’s that easy!

Consult with a BrokerLink expert to find the right insurance for your vacant home

If you still have questions about vacant home insurance or wish to speak to an insurance expert about the best coverage for your vacant home, BrokerLink is here to help. We are a full-service insurance brokerage that has been in business since 1991, which means we have over 30 years of experience helping protect residential properties far and wide. No matter your circumstances - whether you’re going on an extended vacation or own an unoccupied rental property you’re waiting to sell, BrokerLink will ensure your property has the protection it deserves. Get in touch with us and a dedicated broker will take the time to understand your unique needs and shop around for a great vacant home insurance policy at a low rate.