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  • Home Watch STL

For Owners: Your insurance may not cover your unoccupied home

Planning to leave your home to spend a few months or more elsewhere? Without careful planning before you depart, you could be in for nasty surprises upon your return.

Per Beth Ross at Nolo, many homeowners are unaware that, under most standard homeowners' insurance policies, theft, damage, or other problems occurring after a home has been vacant for an extended period of time (typically around 30 days) are not covered. Homeowners' insurance policies commonly exclude such coverage, due to the greater risk of theft or damage to a home that no one is living in and thus watching over. If you attempt to make a claim for losses that occurred while you were away, you might be denied under such an exclusion, or even be liable for insurance fraud.

Review your policy and talk with your insurance agent. If necessary, you might purchase an endorsement to your policy to provide coverage for your home while it's vacant. If such an endorsement is not available, consider purchasing a separate, “vacant home” insurance policy. These are typically quite affordable, and offered for specific terms such as 30 days, six months, or a year.

Be open and honest with your insurance company prior to your departure. This can save you a great deal of hassle and expense in the event of a break-in or other damage to your home while you’re gone.

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