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Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-01-2006, 02:23 PM   #1
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Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

My mother passed away in November, and my family hasn't been too eager to delve into things during the holidays. We haven't done much with her house aside from removing various records & some valuables so far.

My brother-in-law is also getting his recently deceased mother's home ready for sale, and discovered that it had sustained some minor damage during a recent storm. When he called the insurance company to inquire as to whether the damage was covered he was told that the policy is not valid if the home is unoccupied. His agent told him that he'd shop for different coverage, but that it'd be very costly to find someone to write a policy on an empty house.

That sounds crazy to me - what do snowbirds and others who own multiple residences do? I mean, people die, right? Many of whom have mortgages - I just can't imagine that lenders would allow such a situation.

Anybody out there have any info to put me at ease until I can reach her agent tomorrow?

Cb
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-01-2006, 03:22 PM   #2
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

Did he ask how long the home had to be vacant to loose coverage? This condition, taken to its logical end would cancel insurance the day after it's occupant died.

One posibility is to have a friend/relative stay in the house for a couple months.
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-01-2006, 03:29 PM   #3
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

Doesn't make sense to me. What about vacations? What about while I am at work?
My car is covered for storm damage if I am not in it. I don't think this is correct.
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-01-2006, 03:44 PM   #4
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

Personally, I would complain to your state's insurance department. She died in November and damage was discovered by December. Sounds like a reasonable loss to be covered to me.

Insurers don't like to cover houses that nobody lives in because damage generally gets worse and more costly by the time it is found. However, the insurer should probably cover the loss on the house in this case. Let the state regulator come down on the company like a load of brocks: they have a lot more leverage than the policyholder.
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-01-2006, 03:46 PM   #5
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

I suspect the question is in the defn of "vacant". *I know my homeowner's policy has a time limit. *Also, there may be something in the insurance company defn about the intent of the owner to occupy the house.

As others suggest, call the State Insurance Commission to discuss this issue.

I heard another 'believe it or not' insurance claim problem. *A home was demolished to prepare for the construction of a new home. *Same owners. *The policy had coverage for oil tank leakage, home heated with oil. *The dug up the oil tank the day after the house was torn down and discovered had leaked. *The policy reqired that the tank be 'in use'. *Can't be in use if there is no house, coverage denied.

Lesson: tear out the oil tank before you tear down the house.
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-01-2006, 04:08 PM   #6
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

My BIL's mother died last winter...maybe in February, so that house has been unoccupied much longer than my mother's.

I'll give the state insurance commision a call tomorrow.

thanks,

Cb
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-01-2006, 05:26 PM   #7
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cb
My mother passed away in November, and my family hasn't been too eager to delve into things during the holidays. We haven't done much with her house aside from removing various records & some valuables so far.

My brother-in-law is also getting his recently deceased mother's home ready for sale, and discovered that it had sustained some minor damage during a recent storm. When he called the insurance company to inquire as to whether the damage was covered he was told that the policy is not valid if the home is unoccupied. His agent told him that he'd shop for different coverage, but that it'd be very costly to find someone to write a policy on an empty house.
You have to look at the policy itself. First you have to see if the policy has canceled for non-pay or whatever. If not, there is still coverage.

Once this is established, if the agent tells you there is no coverage, you ask him to "show you in the contract" where this is so.

Reading the actual policy is what rules here, and possibly there may be something in your state's insurance law that also rules. If someone tells you something, your first question would be is to ask, "WHERE does it say so"? If they can't answer, then you assume there is coverage.

There are tons of people in the insurance industry who will tell you all sorts of crap, but the bottom line lies in the language of the policy and the state insurance law.

As for second home coverage, this is usually a basis homeowners policy that will cost a few shekels more due to the home being non-occupied for some time.

If someone dies in a home, and the home is vacant, the policy has to be officially canceled for breaking a provision of the policy regarding occupancy. There are all sorts of schemes here, you just have to find out what happens in your state, and what the policy reads.
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-01-2006, 06:27 PM   #8
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

According to our agent long vacations are not an issue provided you still "occupy" the house and it is your home ,* i.e. don't leave it empty of furniture etc.
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-02-2006, 07:15 AM   #9
 
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

Insurance in our area is not applicable if the house is not occupied and no one checks it at least every second day.

I do not understand why someone who has a property would not want it checked on routinely for pipe leaks, vandalism, mice etc etc.

Snowbirds usually get someone to check routinely.

I can only imagine the damage done by a burst pipe or leaking toilet that runs for months, why should Insurance protect against someones' negligence?

Check your policy, it is there somewhere.

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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-02-2006, 08:22 AM   #10
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

Besides damage going unnoticed and getting worse, unoccupied homes have a very high rate of being broken into and vandalized, or people "moving in" and eventually damaging or burning the house down.

But it sounds in this case like the insurance company "kicked you back into play" to see if you'll do anything about it.
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-02-2006, 09:37 PM   #11
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

Can concur with Howard of the situation in Canada. People on vacation must have someone inspect/enter the property at least every 48 hours to maintain insurance. Many people do not do that out of either not knowing policy stipulations or simply ignoring them. The do so at their peril.

If the house is not checked every 4 hours, you must declare it vacant and at least in Canada, insurance companies will still cover most damage at a much higher premium, but won't cover water damage...in the event of burst pipes, leaky roofs, broken windows, etc.

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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-02-2006, 10:10 PM   #12
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

Cb,

I was in the same situation last year. My agent said, "Put a bed in the house." My HO policy covered the 2nd home if occupied.
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-03-2006, 09:00 AM   #13
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

Quote:
Originally Posted by AltaRed
If the house is not checked every 4 hours, you must declare it vacant...
So things like going out for dinner-movies-shopping or a weekend getaway or going off to work for the day requires you to declare your residence "vacant"?
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-03-2006, 09:53 AM   #14
 
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

justin, he meant days, 48 hours ,that is what most policies require.

Mold infestation, start writing cheques.
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-03-2006, 09:58 AM   #15
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard
justin, he meant days, 48 hours ,that is what most policies require.

Mold infestation, start writing cheques.
Thanks, 4 days sounds more reasonable. The standard for US insurance policies is usually 30 days of absence equals vacant, at least for the standard homeowner's policy. 2nd home policies may differ, don't know for sure though.

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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 01-03-2006, 06:20 PM   #16
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

This is crap. The insurance company is just trying to get out of paying a claim. Check the policy, make sure you're on firm ground, then let 'em have it!
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??
Old 02-25-2006, 08:46 AM   #17
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Re: Empty house invalidates homeowner's ins??

I don't have a lot of respect for insurance companies. Maybe you have not noticed but after the hurricanes hit the south in ''88 and '89 and then again in ;03-;05, a lot of companies did what is a very self protective move: The spun off subsidiary companies such as XYZ company of Florida so that if the company REALLY got hit with
crippling payouts due to natural disaster, the parent company wouldl be held harmless from the liability and if it got hit too hard, they could simply declare bankrupcy.
When I was very young and naive 37 years ago, I had a wife, a son, and a draft notice. When I called lthe Prudential agent out to get about $200K worth of insurance , he asked me a few standard questions, found out I was soldier headed to Viet Nam and he couldn't get away fast enough. His last comment to me was, "If you're a soldier, you might really get killed. Then where would we be?
They really don't want to take any gambles where there is a serious possibility they may lose. Just like gambling casinos. If the odds aren't legally stacked in their favor, they aren't interested.
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