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I can't find insurance for a vacant house until it's sold

Home insurance companies are leery about selling coverage for vacant homes because unoccupied residences can fall victim to vandals, thieves and squatters. Vacant homes are also at greater risk for extensive damage if they're infiltrated by insects or vermin, or if a pipe bursts or something catches fire because no one is around to respond to the emergency in time.

Sometimes insurance companies will give you a time frame for how long a house can be vacant and still insured, such as 30 or 60 days. After that, they might cancel your policy.

If a standard home insurance company is not willing to insure you, search for a company that specializes in insurance for vacant homes. This coverage is pricey, though, so prepare to pay higher premiums than you were paying before. Another option is to check whether you're eligible for your state's Fair Access to Insurance Requirements plan, which provides coverage for high-risk homes. The federal government established the plans roughly 40 years ago to make home insurance available to property owners who can't otherwise get it. The insurance is more expensive than standard home insurance and offers less coverage, but it's better than nothing.

Yet another option is to ask friends or relatives to stay in your house so it is no longer considered vacant, or hire a house sitter. Even if you have to pay for a house sitter, the alternative might be cheaper than premiums for insurance for vacant homes.

Learn more about how vacant homes can be tough to insure.

Last updated: Oct. 12, 2010