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Yes, your homeowners insurance company can cancel your insurance policy if your house is empty. Homeowners insurance companies often won’t insure vacant homes because they are at a higher risk of damage and crime because there’s no one there to keep an eye on things.

Most home insurance companies have rules about how long a home can be vacant before the policy will be canceled. In many cases, it’s 30 days.

It’s important to note that there is a difference between vacant and unoccupied. A vacant home is one that is empty of both occupants and personal belongings. Here’s how insurance handles vacant and unoccupied homes.

How long can you leave your house unoccupied for insurance?

Again, unoccupied is not the same as vacant. If you are a snowbird, for example, you may be away from your home for months at a time. Your insurance company will not consider it vacant and will not cancel your policy, but may require that you have someone check on the home regularly.

As long as you still have personal belongings in the home and it’s clear that someone lives there, your home insurance company won’t consider it vacant. However, if you have not take steps to ensure the home is monitored for any issues, it’s possible a claim could be denied.

If the home is truly vacant, the insurance company will generally give you 30 days before it moves to cancel the policy. Alternatively, it may inform you that certain types of claims will no longer be covered.

It’s important to discuss with your insurance company what needs to be done in either case to avoid any issues with your coverage.

What do you do if your homeowners insurance is canceled?

If your homeowners insurance company is going to cancel your policy because no one is living in your home, contact your insurance company right away. You may be able to extend the current coverage with a vacancy permit. Alternatively, you can buy specialized vacant home insurance. This is a different type of insurance policy, with limited coverage for things like such as fire and wind, but will excluding things like theft, water damage or glass breakage. 

There is generally no coverage for personal property, since a vacant home doesn’t contain much in the way of contents.

How do you avoid having your home insurance canceled?

If your home will be vacant for more than 30 days, contact your insurance company. The best way to pre-empt a cancellation is to talk to the insurer ahead of time and make arrangements for alternative coverage.

If your home is for sale and you have already moved out, your insurance company may be willing to simply add an endorsement that will insure the home until it sells. If it’s going to be vacant longer, consider a different type of coverage.

The important thing is to be proactive.

Learn more about how to protect a vacant home here.

Penny Gusner contributed to this article.

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Nupur Gambhir
Managing Editor


Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.



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