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Vacant home insurance in Canada 

Most of the time, when you buy a home, you plan to live in it. However, there are certain situations where a property may remain unoccupied. Leaving a house vacant comes with certain risks. Insurance for a vacant home can help you reduce those risks and deliver peace of mind.

What defines a vacant home?

Whether it's an investment property or your personal dwelling, a vacant home is one that is unoccupied for 30 or more days. It may be that you or a tenant intend to return to the property but aren't there for the time being, or you take an extended vacation, or need to leave your home for a few months.

Regardless, home insurance companies may cancel your policy if they discover it's been left vacant without the proper insurance. The property does not need to be empty to be considered vacant, either, meaning your insurance company could cancel your coverage even if there are personal items, furniture, appliances, or belongings inside.

What is covered under a vacant home insurance policy?

If you're away from your home for 30 days or less, your home insurance coverage likely won't be interrupted. If you're gone for longer, and your home sustains  damage on the 35th day of your abscence, for example, your coverage may no longer apply. This is sometimes referred to as the 30-day occupancy rule.

Because vacant homes are exposed to more risk than occupied ones, many insurers require homeowners to purchase a permit if you intend to leave it beyond 30 days. Typically, permits will cover your home for up to 120 days.

Vacancy permits will ensure that your home insurance policy coverage remains intact — it doesn't provide extra coverage. However, even with a permit, an insurance provider may not cover perils like flood damage, window damage, and vandalism. Your insurance company will also likely require you to make arrangements to maintain your property in your absence, for example, designating someone to check in on your home a few times a week. Each provider is different, so it's best to talk to yours about requirements and coverage exclusions. 

A vacancy permit can increase your premium by $30 to $150 a month.

How to protect your vacant home

It’s important to keep your house in as good a shape as possible, especially when you are not there to help protect it. In order to reduce risks and costly damage you can do the following:

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Frequently asked questions about vacant home insurance in Canada

Where can I get vacant home insurance?

Not all insurance companies offer vacant home insurance, since it's a high-risk proposition. Talk to your insurance provider or broker to see what coverage is available to you.

Do I need vacant home insurance during renovations?

It’s best to tell your insurance provider if you're doing extensive renovations and plan to be away during that time. Being away more than 30 days could violate your policy and you might lose your coverage. A vacancy permit that provides extra protection might be a good solution, but you’ll need to discuss this with your provider to see if they offer it.

Does my cottage need vacant home insurance coverage?

Cottages or vacation homes generally do not require special vacant home insurance. There is, however, vacation property insurance which will meet the insurance needs for that dwelling. In many cases you might have the option to incorporate your vacation property with your primary home insurance policy. Alternatively, you can decide to purchase a distinct policy specifically for your vacation property. Talk to your provider about protections, options and cost.

Joel Kranc

Joel Kranc

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Joel Kranc is an award-winning writer, author and journalist.

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