The Ballinger Agency     423 - 344 - 3114

If you're planning an extended vacation or a business trip, or if you move into a new home without selling your old one, you may have a problem with your home insurance. Because vacant homes can be targets for vandals, thieves, and the homeless, insurance companies don't want to insure them.

Insurers usually try to avoid insuring a vacant home, unless they know someone is frequently checking on it. Without that, the risk for claims-inducing damage soars. Besides an increased risk for vandalism and fire, vacant homes have the potential for flooding from burst pipes or being infested by insects or other vermin which can cause extensive damage.

Often, home insurance companies will give you a window in which a house can be vacant, such as 60 days (some insurers may allow only 30). After that, they may reserve the right to cancel your home insurance policy. Home insurers will often work with you if you have a special situation. For example, if you bought a new house and are waiting to sell your vacant house, but are still checking in on it.

A house that is regularly "checked on" shouldn't look vacant, even though it is. Someone should pick up the mail, mow the lawn, turn on lights and maybe even park a car in the driveway  anything that makes it an unattractive target for vandals and vagrants. Additionally, the person checking on the house should look inside regularly.

Another option is to have a "house sitter" in the home, keeping an eye on things. If a family member or friend can stay in the home for a period of time, the home is considered occupied. If family or friends are not available, house-sitting services are available in most areas, with rates subject to negotiation in many cases.