Home Insurance for Snowbirds


Dear Insurance Adviser, 

I am a snowbird. I have a home in Minnesota and a home in Florida. A friend told me that I don't have any homeowners insurance coverage 60 days after I have vacated either property. I am really concerned: Is my friend correct? 

- Blair

Dear Blair,

You are quite safe.

Home insurance policies typically don't cover losses, such as from vandalism, if the home has been "vacant" for more than 60 days. However, since both your homes are fully furnished when not being occupied, they won't be subject to any vacancy limitations or exclusions.

For the record, courts have interpreted "vacancy" as it relates to homeowners insurance to mean a partially furnished home that's too empty for someone to be able to live there. (That means no kitchen table, silverware, glasses, chair or sofa to sit on in the living room, lamp, bedroom set, etc.).

Liability coverage also will remain intact at both locations, even when they're unoccupied.

I would recommend that contents coverage at both locations be amended to take into account "all risk," as opposed to "named perils" such as fire and theft. That way, really unusual or bizarre claims when the home is unoccupied may very well be covered.

Finally, I recommend a risk management strategy to reduce loss -- maybe a central station alarm that not only monitors for burglary, fire and smoke but also can keep tabs on temperature changes and sump pump overflow. This won't prevent losses but will keep them to a minimum.

Hope this helps.

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