One of the important things I discuss with families after a funeral is the importance of insuring a vacant home. Many people are unaware that vacant properties are insured much differently than occupied ones. Many insurance policies in Canada define vacancy as the circumstance where the occupants of a home have moved out with no intention of returning and no new occupant has taken up residence. It is important to note that this holds true regardless of whether or not there are still furnishings in the dwelling.
As soon as a home is vacant, certain coverages (if currently part of the policy) are removed. These could include water, vandalism or malicious acts, glass breakage, fuel escape and sewer back-up. After 30 days, there may not be any coverage for damage unless a vacancy permit is granted. A vacancy permit acknowledges that the insurer is aware that the home is vacant and is willing to extend the vacancy limitation. Always contact your insurance broker when a house becomes vacant to be sure of the coverages that are available to you.
Also, take precautions to eliminate or reduce risks to a vacant house. These could include: considering a house sitter, installing a monitored alarm system, ensuring that there are dead bolt locks on all doors, securing windows, having the home visited daily, using timers on lights and changing the timer periodically, redirecting mail and having flyers collected on a daily basis, stopping newspaper delivery, ensuring that lawns are mowed in the summer and sidewalks and driveways are cleared in the winter. If the telephone is left connected, turn down the ringer volume.