Homeowner’s Insurance Changes
When the Home is Vacant
Your home is considered “vacant” when you leave and have no intention of returning. For example, when you move to another location, your previous home is “vacant” until somebody else moves in. If you leave your home but intend to return, as you would when you are away on vacation, your home is “unoccupied” but not “vacant.”
The moment your home becomes “vacant,” coverage on your homeowners insurance changes. Coverages for occurrences such as theft/burglary, glass breakage, vandalism and malicious acts, water damage, sewer backup, flood, riot, and municipal bylaw changes that might affect the cost of a claim are excluded as soon as your home is vacant. That’s why, if you are moving to another home, you must contact your Murrick Insurance Group agent to ensure your homeowners insurance remains in effect for as long you are still the owner. Once the ownership of the home is transferred to somebody else, that person must insure the home appropriately.
Vacancy Permit Available
If your home becomes vacant and you call your Murrick Group agent, we will contact your insurance company and update the policy correctly with a “vacancy permit” to ensure coverage continues. Otherwise, moving out of your home is considered a “material change” that could void your existing insurance and the coverage you’ve arranged.
When your home is vacant, the contents that remain, such as appliances, decrease in value and your insurance company might cover them only to a certain limit, while some contents might be valued at replacement cost minus depreciation, up to a specified limit. Contents left in a vacant home must be specified to the insurance company for approval of coverage.
If your home is going to be unoccupied for an extended period of time, you should also contact your Murrick Group agent to ensure your insurance coverage is adequate and to determine what you are required to do to ensure the insurance remains in effect in your absence.
Ways to Protect Your Property
Regardless of whether you are away or have permanently vacated the home but still own it, there are ways to protect your property, including:
- Have somebody check your home every 72 hours or more frequently to ensure the exterior is kept free of garbage, trash, flyers, and other telltale signs that nobody is home;
- Windows and doors are locked and secured;
- Shut off the water and, if necessary, winterize the plumbing;
- Hire somebody to mow the grass or shovel the snow so the property appears to be occupied;
- Forward your mail or have somebody pick up your mail regularly;
- Ensure there are window coverings that are appropriately opened or closed;
- Remove all valuables from the home;
- Ask a neighbor to report any suspicious activity; and
- Install smoke detectors and a monitored burglar/alarm system to lower the risk of loss.
Homes that are vacant or unoccupied and look that way become the target of break-ins and vandalism.
Be sure to protect your home and property, whether you are there or not, and make sure you have the insurance coverage you need. Without the correct insurance, you will have to pay for any damage or loss yourself.
Protect yourself and your home by talking to your Murrick Group Insurance agent.
Thank you to our Autoplan staff
A special thank you to our Murrick Group Autoplan staff who have continued to be available, with appropriate safety measures, in our offices and on the road during the COVID-19 restrictions. While most other types of insurance can be purchased and renewed electronically or by phone, some components of Autoplan insurance require physical signatures and/or delivery of original documents, licence plates, and decals. Those requirements have made Autoplan insurance an essential service. We’ve always had our mobile option, where our agents provide in-home, in-office, or dealership Autoplan services, but during the past two and a half months, we’ve had to adopt practices that complied with all physical distancing requirements. We appreciate our customers’ patience and continued business.