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How Often Does A House Need To Be Checked For Insurance Purposes?

How often does a house need to be checked for insurance purposes? | KBD Insurance
Curtis Killen

As president of KBD, Curtis aims to simplify insurance for his clients. He’s helped lead KBD to become one of Canada’s fastest 400 growing companies according to the Globe & Mail.

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Whether you own a cottage or are going on vacation, it’s important to understand how home vacancy can affect the viability of your insurance. In this post, we’re answering how often you should have your house checked if it’s vacant for a long period of time.

So, how often does a house need to be checked for insurance purposes?

As a homeowner, this is something your shouldn’t overlook when you’re running out the door to go on vacation. 

This is because, leaving your house unattended for a long period of time without getting it checked on can actually void your insurance. 

Make sure that you understand the inspection requirements in your home insurance policy to maintain coverage in the event that there’s a claim while you’re away. 

In this post, we’re covering the nuances of insurance inspections, and everything you need to know to maintain coverage. 

Whether you’re a first-time homeowner or a seasoned property owner, staying informed about insurance policies is key to maintaining your coverage and keeping your financial security intact.

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How often does a house need to be checked for insurance purposes?

If you’re simply going on vacation, most insurance companies will require that you have someone check on your home every 48 to 72 hours. However, be sure to check the exact timeframe on your policy! 

As for your home away from home, you will have to first ensure that the property is included in your home insurance policy. 

Cottages, chalets, cabins, etc. are not automatically added to your policy – you need to notify your insurer to have it covered (you can read our full guide on cottage insurance here). 

Now, if your cottage insurance is already set up, you need to adhere to certain terms to maintain the validity of your coverage. 

When it comes to having your house checked on while you’re away, there isn’t a standard frequency across all insurers. However, most recommend inspections every 30 to 90 days for vacant properties or unoccupied homes.

Here’s what you need to know about having your home checked on while away:

  • Vacancy Duration: Homes are considered vacant if they remain unoccupied for an extended period, usually exceeding 30 consecutive days.
  • Insurance Policy Terms: Review your insurance policy carefully to understand specific inspection requirements and compliance measures for your home, as well as how long you can leave your home unattended.
  • Risks of Vacant Homes: Unoccupied homes pose higher risks of burglary, vandalism, water damage, and other perils, making regular inspections essential for risk management.
  • Coverage Considerations: Failure to comply with inspection requirements could result in coverage limitations, policy cancellations, or claim denials in the event of a loss.
  • Consult Your Insurer: Contact your insurance provider to clarify inspection guidelines and ensure compliance with policy terms. They can provide specific recommendations based on your home’s occupancy status and insurance coverage.
  • Proactive Measures: Implement proactive measures such as installing security systems, maintaining utilities, and arranging for property checks to mitigate risks and maintain coverage integrity.

By having someone check in on your home while you’re away, you can ensure it remains adequately protected and maintains coverage with your insurer.

How often does a vacant house need to be checked for insurance purposes?

Do you have a home away from home, like a cottage or a cabin at the lake?

As we mentioned, for homeowners with vacant properties, the frequency of inspections varies based on insurance policies and providers. 

Some insurers may require inspections every 30 days, while others may extend the interval to 60 or 90 days

It’s crucial to review your insurance policy to understand the specific inspection requirements for your vacant house, otherwise you might not be covered in the event of a claim. 

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At what point is a home considered vacant?

So, how long can you leave your house unoccupied without insurance being void?

In Canada, a home is typically considered vacant for insurance purposes when it remains unoccupied for an extended period, usually exceeding 30 consecutive days.

Vacancy is determined based on the absence of regular occupancy and the reduced presence of personal belongings, utilities, and signs of activity within the property.

Be sure to check with your insurer about the exact time frame outlined in your policy.

Insurance Risk Associated with Vacant Homes:

Vacant homes pose higher insurance risks due to increased vulnerability to perils such as vandalism, theft, fire, and water damage.

The absence of occupants also diminishes the property’s ability to detect and respond to potential hazards promptly, increasing the likelihood of losses.

Insurance Policy Requirements for House Check Ups

Insurance policies may vary in their definitions of vacancy and requirements for coverage.

Some insurers classify a home as vacant if it remains unoccupied for as little as 30 days, while others may extend the timeframe to 60 or 90 days. 

That’s why it’s always important to check your own policy for the details! 

Contact your insurance agent or broker if you’re unsure.

Notification and Compliance When Leaving Your House For An Extended Period:

Homeowners are often also required to notify their insurance provider if the property will be vacant for an extended period.

Failure to comply with vacancy notification requirements may result in coverage limitations, policy cancellations, or claim denials in the event of loss or damage.

Mitigating Risks Associated with Vacant Homes:

As a homeowner, you can take proactive measures to mitigate risks associated with vacant properties. 

This includes installing security systems, motion-activated lights, and surveillance cameras.

Regular property inspections, maintenance checks, and the presence of caretakers or property managers can also help deter potential hazards and maintain the property’s integrity.

Specialized Vacant Home Insurance:

Some insurance providers offer specialized vacant home insurance policies tailored to address the unique risks of unoccupied dwellings.

These policies may provide coverage for perils specific to vacant properties, including vandalism, theft, liability, and property damage.

How should I prepare my house before going on vacation?

First things first: It’s important to notify your insurer and have a trusted person check on your property regularly. 

Here are several steps you can take to prepare your house and safeguard your property while you’re on vacation:

  • Install Motion-Activated Security Lights: Create the illusion of occupancy to deter burglars and enhance home security while you’re away.
  • Turn Off Water Valves: Prevent leaks or flooding by turning off water valves before departing to minimize potential water damage risks.
  • Inform A Trusted Individual: Notify a trusted individual about your travel plans and provide them with contact information in case of emergencies, ensuring prompt response to any issues.
  • Consider Vacant Home Insurance or Unoccupied Home Insurance: Insurance coverage tailored for vacant or unoccupied homes protects your property during extended periods of absence.

Be sure to consult your insurance provider to understand your policy’s terms and ensure compliance with inspection requirements for vacant or unoccupied properties.

Do I need to have someone check on my condo or apartment?

For insurance purposes in Canada, you are also required to have someone check on your condo or apartment during extended absences.

It also simply provides you with peace of mind while you’re away. 

Here’s why:

  • Policy Compliance: Just like with homeowners insurance, insurance policies require that condos and apartments be regularly inspected to maintain coverage. 
  • Risk Mitigation: Regular property checks help deter potential hazards and address issues promptly, reducing the likelihood of damage or loss. This proactive approach minimizes insurance claims and maintains coverage integrity.
  • Coverage Assurance: If you fail to comply with inspection requirements, it may result in coverage limitations or denial of claims in the event of a loss. Having someone check on your condo or apartment ensures adherence to insurance terms and maximizes the likelihood of coverage.
  • Peace of Mind: Trusted individuals, such as neighbors, friends, or property management services can perform regular checks, enhancing security and safeguarding your investment.

How can I make sure that my home being empty doesn’t affect my insurance?

Lastly, here is a checklist of to-do’s that you should follow before leaving your home for an extended period of time:

  • Regular Property Checks: Schedule routine inspections to ensure your empty home remains secure and well-maintained, complying with the insurance requirements outlined in your policy.
  • Notify Your Insurance Provider: Inform your insurance company when your home will be empty for an extended period. This is often a requirement on your policy. 
  • Consider Vacant Home Insurance: Shop for insurance policies designed for unoccupied or vacant homes, which offer tailored coverage for the unique risks associated with empty homes and properties.
  • Install Security Measures: Enhance security by installing alarm systems, motion sensors, and surveillance cameras. These measures not only deter potential intruders but also demonstrate proactive risk management to insurers.
  • Manage Utilities: Ensure essential utilities such as heating, plumbing, and electricity remain active during the home’s empty period. Maintaining these services helps prevent issues like frozen pipes or electrical malfunctions.
  • Arrange Regular Property Maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance tasks such as lawn care, snow removal, and gutter cleaning to keep your property in good condition. Well-maintained homes are less susceptible to damage and insurance claims.
  • Engage a Trusted Contact: Enlist the help of a trusted neighbor, friend, or property management service to periodically check on your empty home. Their presence can provide assurance and quick response to any issues that may arise.
  • Document Precautionary Measures: Keep records of the steps you’ve taken to safeguard your empty home, including maintenance schedules, security system installations, and insurance correspondence. These records are invaluable in the event of a claim or inspection by your insurer.

By implementing these measures, you can help ensure that your home insurance coverage remains intact during periods of vacancy.

Wrap-up

Let’s recap. 

So, how often does a house need to be checked for insurance purposes?

As a homeowner, you should know the requirements for house inspections for your insurance purposes.

Here’s what you should remember:

  • Regular inspections ensure compliance with your insurance policy.
  • Inspections help identify potential risks early, mitigating damages and losses.
  • Stay informed about your insurance requirements.
  • Consult your provider for clarity on inspection frequency.
  • Implement necessary measures to maintain coverage.

There you have it: Prioritizing inspections is a small investment that pays off significantly in safeguarding your home.