If you find you need to leave your home vacant after a move, you still need to protect it. It is a valuable asset, even if there’s nothing inside. Here’s what you should do to ensure you’re properly insured and protect your home until you can sell it or rent it.
Talk to Your Agent
Your agent can tell you whether your policy offers a bit of wiggle room if you leave your home vacant. Typically, most homeowner’s policies allow 30 days before your coverage lapses. However, it is always best to ask.
Vacant homes are riskier and more prone to vandalism. Plus, there’s no one in the house to notice if a fire starts or a pipe bursts. It could take some time before someone notices, which means a larger claim.
Vacant Home Insurance
If your existing home insurance policy doesn’t provide ample coverage for your vacant home, your agent may suggest a vacant home insurance policy. Policies offer coverage for many of the perils you’d find in a homeowner’s policy such as fire, hail, lightning, and wind. They also provide protection against vandalism, burst pipes, and more.
Secure Your Home
Check all windows and doors before you leave the premises. While this may seem obvious, it’s usually chaotic during a move. With so many people coming and going and a deep desire to be done with the move, people can inadvertently leave windows and doors unlocked.
Rely on a Trusted Neighbor or Friend
Whether you’re moving across the city or to another state, leave a key and your handyman’s telephone number with a trusted neighbor or friend.
If something does go awry, they can let in the police or a repairman. Otherwise, the problem could escalate or the police might need to break into your home.
Maintain the Yard
Nothing says “vacant” quicker than an unattended yard. Dying plants, branches in the yard, and tall, unkempt grass are invitations for trouble.
Either hire a landscaper to come in regularly or ask a friend or neighbor. You may want your neighbor or friend to water the grass and check the mail box at least once a week, too.
Add Motion Detector Lights
If you don’t already them, splurge on a few. Install them near both front and back doorways, dark areas around the side of the house, and on porches or decks. They’ll switch on when anyone walks around your home and they’re a great deterrent.
Add a Security System Sign & Window Decal
Amateur burglars and vandals look for easy targets. Stick a security system sign on your lawn and put a decal near the front and back doors, even if you don’t have a system. You can buy them online inexpensively and they might be sufficient to make criminals walk by.
If you have a monitored security system, consider keeping it active and provide a trusted friend or neighbor with the code. The minimal monthly expense is great value in exchange for peace of mind.
Park a Vehicle in the Driveway
Even if you’re no longer living in your house, you can make it look like you’ll be back soon. Leave a car, motorhome, or trailer in the driveway to help deter criminals.
Alternatively, ask your neighbor to park in your driveway until the home’s occupied again. Even if they just park there once in a while, it might steer criminals away from your home.