With all the goblins and ghouls out it reminds me that a little bit of fright gets the adrenaline going which in small doses is good for you but the scary stuff going on the East Coast is a level of scariness that's shocking and worrying. And the way it's raining today who knows what may come our way as we leave behind those beautiful sunny days and enter into unknown weather systems.
But what is really high on my radar this month is campaign of educating real estate agents and homeowners about the perils of vacant homes and homeowners insurance. Sometimes knowing the truth is a scary but not knowing can lead to terrible consequences and some hefty financial losses.
So here it is. A seasoned agent of 20 years plus recently came into my office and we got into a discussion about vacant homes and homeowners insurance. He said "It used to be that 30% of homes on the market were vacant but now it's flipped and more often than not homes are vacant for one reason or another."
It is exactly because of this reason that more and more Insurance companies are taking a stand against claims made because residents have vacated their home. Hours and hours of research in this matter has brought up multiple scenarios from companies that drop you immediately to those that have a 30, 60 or 90 day grace period. Nowadays though homes stay on the market much longer than 90 days. Some insurance companies offer endorsements that give you some coverage but it's minimal. Some don't offer endorsements and don't want to have anything to do with a vacant home even if you've been a customer in good standing for 20 years. There are insurance companies that actually specialize in vacant home insurance and it's worth getting multiple quotes because costs vary widely.
But, what you absolutely do not want to do is ignore the fact that your home is vacant and not inform your insurance or at least find out what their policy is. Want to know what the truly scary part of this story is though? There is not one Insurance company that is willing to step forward and give their clients this kind of information. They don't want to lose your business and statistics say that over 80% of homeowners think they're covered when they're not. They're accepting your premiums, right? That is until you submit a claim on a burst pipe that went from a $1,000 emergency to a $50,000 disaster. They will politely refund your premium and then ask you to read your policy which are specifically written with the understanding that the policy holder will reside in the property.
So, don't let something that's scary turn into a horrifying nightmare. Do your homework and protect your assets.
And although Abigail's Home Watch Services cannot replace your homeowners insurance we can and do provide weekly and bi-weekly home watch services for vacant homes that have the added benefit of detailed reporting and pictures for documentation and storm watch checks to ensure that you're doing your due diligence by minimizing your liability. In some cases this may be exactly what you need to keep your insurance intact.