Vacant VS Unoccupied

Aug 01, 2018

Two words that their only difference lies in intent. Do you intend on living in the property again? It really is that simple but the implication from that difference are immense. If you have no intention of returning to live in the property (regardless of the presence of furnishings), it is deemed to be vacant. This applies to a property that you personally live in or have tenants for.


If you are leaving your property but have a set return date, then it is deemed to be unoccupied. The duration you are way is not important as it could be a week-long vacation or travelling for several months.

There is one BIG stipulation that you must comply with to keep your insurance coverage while your property is unoccupied. You must take steps to prevent damage. This can be done one of three ways if you are going to be away from the property for longer than 4 days (check with your broker or policy as this may differ between insurance companies and your specific policy):

  • Have someone check on your home every day
  • It is important to note that the person that is checking on the home is reliable, it is not enough that they promise to check on the home every day, they actually have to do it. If you are thinking of paying someone for their help to check on your home, they need to be aware that if the visitor lets you down, your insurer could sue them to recover the cost of repairing any damage to your home.

  • Get an alarm
  • Have a professionally managed alarm that centrally monitors your plumbing and heating on a continuous 24 hour surveillance.

  • Drain your water lines
  • In our opinion, this is the easiest. Before you leave, turn off your water supply and empty your pipes by running a taps until no water runs out. Most people focus on the heat going out and pipes freezing in winter, but fridges have ice-makers, and water heaters fail and leak. When [you] shut off the water, you virtually eliminate the most significant exposure."


    Property that has been vacant for 30 days and there is no intent on returning to live there or in the case of a newly constructed house, where no one is living in it as of yet, it is deemed to be vacant. This also applies if you have bought a second home and moved into it but still haven’t sold your first residence. Because you have no intention of returning back to the first residence, it is considered vacant dwelling (even if it still has furniture or personal effects in it).

    If a property is deemed to be vacant, contact your broker to get vacancy permit from your insurance company. Although the coverage for vacancy insurance is not as comprehensive your standard home policy, if does offer protection against major incidents, such as fire. Note: there is generally no coverage for vandalism, theft, or water damage. Making your finances easy, stress-free and, yes, simple. or (403) 452-7951

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