skip to main content

Protecting Your Vacant Property


Did you know that if a building you own becomes unoccupied or vacant, it’s imperative you notify your insurance broker immediately? That’s because all homeowners’ policies contain a vacancy provision, which typically applies after a home has been empty 30 to 60 days.

If you don’t let the insurance broker know, at least portions of your insurance coverage may become ineffective after the building has been vacant an extended amount of time.

But what’s the difference between unoccupied and vacant? If the property is a home, it is only considered vacant when a resident has moved out and taken their belongings with them. Whatever the reason the property becomes vacant, this is the time to speak to your agent about vacant building coverage.

However, if a building is going to be vacant, there are several steps you should take. One of them is to get vacant property insurance.

“Owning a vacant building can pose serious liabilities,” says Daniel Bates, a certified agent at Bates Insurance Agency. “Vacant property insurance protects against liabilities like someone getting injured on your property.”

Purchasing Vacant Property Insurance

Certainly a vacant building is a target for vandalism, undetected repairs, fires and other significant losses. That’s why if you own a vacant building, it’s important to purchase what is known as vacant property, vacant building or vacant dwelling insurance.

In fact, certain policies provide protection if your building is even unoccupied for as little as four days.

Cases in which vacant property insurance may be needed include:

  • When a property owner dies and the property goes to an estate sale;
  • The property is being sold;
  • The property is under construction and /or
  • The property is uninhabitable.

The Risks

There are many risks, particularly affecting buildings left vacant for short or extended periods of time.

They include:

  • Fire
  • Lightning damage
  • Explosion
  • Smoke
  • Windstorm or hail d
  • Sprinkler leakage
  • Vandalism
  • Malicious mischief
  • Squatters

“It’s important to remember, even after purchasing vacant property insurance, that you should be considering taking additional action to secure the building,” Bates says. “Regularly inspect it, mow the lawn, pick up the mail, leave on lights, look for damage or potential damage and maybe even seal off windows or install alarm systems. You want to protect your investment.”