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Home insurance companies have various rules about how long a house can be unoccupied before the insurance is canceled or an endorsement is required. That's because whenever a residence is empty, the property is at a higher risk for damage. For example, if the plumbing backs up or the roof springs a leak, extensive damage can occur because no one is on the premises to shut off the water or call an emergency repair service.
Be honest about your empty home
Don't try to pretend that your empty home is occupied. Never lie to your insurance company when you are buying homeowners insurance; it could provide grounds for denying a claim and may result in the cancellation of your policy. It's not difficult for an insurer to tell if the damage you're claiming happened because no one was there--how else would vandals have been able to shack up in your living room, or a small water leak turn your basement into a swimming pool?
If you leave home for several weeks, you could potentially void your homeowner’s insurance coverage. This is because vacant or unoccupied houses are at greater risk for vandalism, theft, weather-related perils and fire, but your policy premium is based on a lower-risk scenario where your property is occupied. Contact your insurer before leaving town for a lengthy period to make sure you have the unoccupied home insurance coverage you need.
Address anticipated scenarios with your insurance agent before your home is empty. You don't want to find out, after-the-fact, that a claim won't be paid or that your insurer won't renew your policy.
Important definitions: unoccupied home versus vacant home
Insurance companies draw distinctions between homes that are unoccupied and those that are vacant.