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Karl Newman, President
Sandi Henke, Communications Coordinator     
NW Insurance Council
Phone: (206) 624-3330/(800) 664-4942
Fax: (206) 624-1975
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Vacant, abandoned homes leave homeowners at risk
of serious insurance and financial pitfalls

SEATTLE, June 1, 2011 - Many homeowners who are desperately seeking to relocate in the sluggish economy and depressed housing market are leaving their homes empty, leading to significant insurance implications and serious financial risk. Standard Homeowners Insurance policies generally discontinue coverage if a home is unoccupied for more than 30 days.

Unoccupied or vacant homes require special coverage. Homeowners Insurance is specifically designed to cover homes that are occupied. Standard policies exclude losses caused by abandonment of a home or neglect when the home is left unoccupied for a specified number of consecutive days.

"This is a difficult time for many people," said Karl Newman, NW Insurance Council president. "We encourage homeowners to reduce their financial risk by getting special insurance for their homes if they are leaving them vacant or unoccupied for more than 30 days."

A vacant home means the residents have moved out and taken personal belongings including furniture. An unoccupied home means the home includes furniture and personal belongings but no one is living in the home.

Vacant and unoccupied homes pose greater risks, and, therefore require different insurance. Some insurers may grant a customer a Vacancy Permit or policy insuring a home over extended periods of time, from a few months to a year. Coverage is generally more expensive than typical Homeowners Insurance because of the higher risks vacant or unoccupied homes present both to the owner and the insurer.

Here are a few of the risks homeowners take when leaving a home vacant or unoccupied:

  • Break-ins and vandalism.With no one around to supervise, vacant and unoccupied homes are big targets for thieves and vandals.
  • Lack of home maintenance which results in preventable damage such as roof leaks, frozen and burst pipes, water damage and/or mold caused by worn seals and poor ventilation.
  • Emergencies. Without someone to call for an emergency response, a break-in could lead to serious vandalism or arson damage and a small, easily-extinguished electrical fire could destroy the entire home.

If you're moving to a new home and haven't sold your current home, contact your insurance agent or company about adequately insuring your property to protect your investment and provide coverage for liability.

For more information about insuring a vacant or unoccupied home, contact NW Insurance Council at (800) 664-4942.

NW Insurance Council is a nonprofit, public-education organization funded by member insurance companies serving Washington, Oregon and Idaho.