Is My Empty Home a Vacant Home?


From an annual offseason to something as simple as an unrented unit, there are various reasons why a property might be left unused for an extended period of time. But not all empty homes are the same and neither are the home insurance policies which cover them. Since insuring a property defined as ‘vacant’ can be difficult and limited in terms of coverage, knowing where your empty home stands is paramount to providing proper protection.

Use this guide to help you determine whether your empty home is vacant or unoccupied:

What is an unoccupied home?

Also known as an ‘uninhabited home,’ an unoccupied home is an empty house to which the owner plans to return. Although any existing home insurance coverage for this property may change in terms of coverage, if proper preparations are taken, your policy itself should remain intact. Speak with a PC® Insurance broker to see how your absence might impact your coverage.

What is a vacant home?

A vacant home where most furniture has been removed and the owner does not plan to return. Without proper preparation, gaining home insurance for a vacant home can be difficult and limited in terms of coverage.

What is the ‘30 Day Rule?’

In Canada, if a home is emptied and left unattended for a period longer than 30 days, it may be considered vacant and any existing home insurance policy may be voided. If you are planning to leave a home empty for an extended period of time, such as after the death of the occupant or while the house is being built, it is important to speak with your home insurance company to explore options. Sometimes the solution might be as simple as getting a house sitter or someone to monitor your property on a daily basis.

Is a cottage classified as a vacant home?

Every April you head up to your cottage, but every fall you shutter it for another winter. This second home is not vacant, but rather a recreational property. And depending on how long it goes unused, you might be able to get substantial coverage on your cottage investment. For example, while a seasonal dwelling is occupied for only a small portion of the year, a secondary dwelling is one which only goes unoccupied for less than 60 days.

Click here for more information on second home insurance.

A new home might be a vacant home until you move in

Just bought a house? Congratulations! But until you move all your furniture over and have officially moved in, your new home might be considered a vacant property. If you are not planning to move into your home for a period of time exceeding 30 days, check with your insurance company to ensure you are properly covered.

Is my unrented rental classified as a vacant home?

If you are unable to find a tenant for your rental unit within a period of 30 days, you rental unit might be considered a vacant home. If this is the case, you might need to apply for a vacancy permit from your home insurance company. Be aware that even with a vacancy permit appended to your home insurance policy, coverage for things like broken windows, vandalism or floods may not be covered.

What can I do to protect an empty home?

If your home has been classified as vacant or is currently unoccupied, here are some quick measures you can take to at least give the illusion of occupancy:

1. Keep the lawn trimmed and regularly remove garbage or excess mail from the property

2. Cover all windows with curtains

3. Put lights on timers

4. Ensure someone monitors your property to ensure windows are not broken and everything is intact and in working order

5. Make sure the vacant home is kept at a reasonable temperature during winter months to prevent pipes from freezing

6. Install adequate locks on all windows and doors

7. Ensure your property is posted with appropriate signage to deter trespassers

Truly protecting any property starts with having the right home insurance to fit your specific situation. Unsure where you property falls? Speak with a PC® Insurance broker to see how your absence might impact your coverage.

How to make a claim

Call 1-877-251-8656 to speak with a Claims Advisor.

Renewing your policy

Call 1-877-251-8652 for information regarding policy renewal.

Buying a new policy

Call 1-866-660-9035 for information on obtaining a quote.

Need help?

Take a look at the top 5 FAQs:

  • What are my choices in terms of auto coverage?

    What are my choices in terms of auto coverage?

    If you own or drive a vehicle in Canada, you must be insured. Different provinces have different requirements, but the four mandatory elements of auto insurance are:

    1. Liability - if you cause an accident and someone sues you
    2. Accident benefits - if you or someone in your vehicle is hurt in an accident
    3. Direct compensation – property damage (Ontario only)- if your vehicle gets damaged (and it's determined you're not at-fault or only partly at-fault)
    4. Uninsured motorist - if you're in an accident with an uninsured or hit-and-run driver
  • How do I reduce my insurance costs?

    How do I reduce my insurance costs?

    There are several things you can do to reduce your insurance premium costs:

    1. Work on your driving record
      Here's an easy, yet effective way to bring down your insurance costs: build a consistent accident and conviction-free track record with an insurance company.
    2. Choose your automobile wisely
      Do your research before you invest in a new car. Read consumer reports, and check with your insurance company to find out which cars tend to be targets for theft and vandalism. Remember, if you buy a car with a high theft rate, your premium will be higher.
    3. Adjust how you use your car
      By adjusting the way you use your vehicle, you can also bring down the cost of your insurance rates. If you live in a metropolitan area:
      • can you take the subway, train or bus to work?
      • has your job changed, or have you moved recently?
      • do you use your automobile to drive a short distance to work?
      • does your vehicle get used for low annual kilometers?
        If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be entitled to lower insurance costs. Another consideration is whether you let others use your car. It is sometimes possible to exclude certain high-risk drivers from your policy so that good drivers are not penalized with a higher premium.
    4. Choose a higher deductible
      If you choose a higher deductible up front, your premiums will be lower.
    5. Review your coverage
      Take a closer look at your coverage to make sure you're not paying for things you don't need.
  • How can I earn PC Optimum points?

    How can I earn PC Optimum points?

    When you use your President's Choice Financial Mastercard to pay your PC auto insurance premium, you'll get 20 PC Optimum points per dollar of your premium.

  • Are other drivers insured to drive my car?

    Are other drivers insured to drive my car?

    Yes, as long as he/she has your permission to drive the vehicle, has a valid driver's licence and has not been specifically excluded from driving the vehicle. However, all licensed drivers in your household must be listed on your policy—regardless of how often they use your vehicle.

  • What is a deductible?

    What is a deductible?

    A deductible is the amount that you agree to pay towards the repair or replacement of your vehicle before your insurance pays the rest. You choose your deductible amount when you purchase your auto insurance. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium.

See all Auto Insurance FAQs


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