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  1. Understanding the Difference Between a ‘Vacant’ and ‘Unoccupied’ Dwelling

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    Did you know that informing your broker about the changing occupancy status of your home could save you a future headache and possibly save you money on your insurance? That’s why it is always a good idea to keep your broker in the loop when life changes take you away from your home for an extended period.

    If you fall into one of the following three categories, keep reading and let your broker know right away:

    • Snowbird that lives in another state part of the year
    • Military personnel or another employee whose work takes you away from home for long periods
    • Your home is on the market but you have already moved to a new place

    Unoccupied Dwellings

    For insurance purposes, your home is classified as unoccupied if you leave for a period longer than 96 hours but intend to return.

    Whenever your home is unoccupied you should take the following precautions to protect your property:

    • Let your broker know about your travel plans
    • Shut off your water and drain the pipes
    • Make your home look like someone is there (automatic lights, stop your mail, schedule yard care, etc.)

    If you travel frequently for work, it is also a good idea to install a monitored home alarm system that is equipped with temperature and water sensors. Be sure to list a local contact in case you are traveling and an emergency arises at your home.

    Taking these precautions will not only give you peace of mind when you are away, but it will also let your insurance company know you have taken care to protect your property in your absence.

    Vacant Dwellings

    Whether your home has furniture or not, insurance companies will classify it as vacant if you leave the home and do not plan to live there anymore. Some homeowners mistakenly think staging the home while it is on the market excludes it from being classified as a vacant dwelling, but the term is based on occupancy, not furnishings.

    Whenever your home is vacant you should take the following precautions to protect your property:

    • Get a vacancy permit from your insurer
    • Check the vacant property at least 3 times per week

    Vacant properties often receive minimal coverage with items like vandalism, sewer backup and water damage excluded from coverage. In some cases, where the home is vacant for six months or longer, the insurance company may decide to discontinue coverage altogether.

    To learn more about how to protect your unoccupied or vacant dwelling, contact your insurance broker.