Unoccupied Homes & Your Responsibilities as Homeowner – Broker Story

Apr 7, 2022

Broker Story is a section on our site that helps us illustrate the importance of having a broker by your side. As licensed insurance professionals, we do more than help you get insurance with the right coverage and the right price. BrokerTeam brokers advocate for our clients if there is ever an issue, and we provide proper advice to make sure our clients are protected. Today’s story is about unoccupied homes and what your responsibilities are as a homeowner and policyholder.


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What Are Unoccupied Homes

First, let’s define what an unoccupied home is. Leaving a home unoccupied means you have the intention to return to the property, whether it is within a week or months. This is very common for those who have properties out of country. An unoccupied home is different than a vacant property, with vacant meaning the owner has no intention of returning.

To the Story!

The client from today’s story frequently travelled between Hong Kong and Toronto, especially during wintertime when she preferred to avoid the harsh Ontario temperatures. BrokerTeam has many clients who are newcomers to Canada or are expats from another country, so from experience, we are mindful to provide pertinent advice to such clients. We advised this particular client that she should always arrange for someone to regularly check in on her house if she left out of country again.

So, when she planned her next trip to Hong Kong, she entrusted a family friend to housesit her home while she was away. Upon her return after two months, she found her home had flooded. The water originated from the basement and filled up all the way to the ground floor. Yikes! She immediately reported it to her broker and insurance company. However, the insurer initially denied the claim because they thought she did not take proper actions to take care of her home.

BrokerTeam immediately acted as a mediator in this situation and asked if she had any statements that proved she asked a friend to check on her home. She was able to provide a cheque she wrote to the family friend as proof, which served as evidence to the insurance company. Her claim was then accepted, and she was compensated based on her coverage.

So, what happened to the housesitter? Well, it turned out he got bored with being alone in her house. He went home and never came back.

Your Responsibilities When Leaving a Home Unoccupied

Most insurance companies require you to have someone regularly check in on your home while you are away for more than 2 days. Each company has varied requirements, and if you are unsure, that’s OK. That’s why you have an insurance broker. Your BrokerTeam broker should know the requirements from your insurance carrier so you don’t end up with a denied claim.

Do your due diligence when it comes to being a homeowner. Make sure your pipes won’t freeze and that your alarm systems are on. If you are a condo owner, let your property manager know in case anything happens.

If you’re renting, make sure your landlord is aware; otherwise, they wouldn’t know their home is unoccupied if you leave for a trip. If anything happens to their unit while you leave it unoccupied, their insurance company might have to take it up with your renters’ insurance. In the case where you don’t have tenant insurance, you may be held personally liable in such situation.

Always have someone check in on your home. You don’t need someone to housesit and stay at your place, but make sure you get someone responsible who won’t just leave because they are bored. It’s always good to have evidence that you have made the proper arrangements in case anything happens like our client in today’s story.

In Conclusion

By becoming a client of a brokerage, you get extra peace of mind that your broker can give you tailored advice based on your personal situation. The specific features or conditions of your policy may not always be apparent, and a broker can help to provide clarity. Should there ever be any changes to your current living situation, let your broker know. We are on your side, and we are here to provide you with the advice you need in order to be properly covered.

Contact us today at 905-918-2611 to see if your policy is up to what you need. Or get a free home insurance quote below.


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