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Three tips to protect vacant or unoccupied properties


You’ll likely hear of “vacant” or “unoccupied” properties. These words have important meaning when it comes to insurance. A property is “vacant” when the owner does not intend to return – such as when it is sold. An “unoccupied” property means the owner is away temporarily – such as being on vacation.

Advising customers on what insurance coverage they need for vacant or unoccupied properties is a regular occurrence for MCT Insurance.

“MCT specializes in insurance for vacant or unoccupied homes,” said Nathalie Gauthier Jacobi, MCT branch manager. “In the Maritimes, people often head down south to avoid our cold winters, which means their home is unoccupied. Vacant properties are often the result of estate sales, or when people relocate to another province while their home is for sale.”

Whether the property is vacant or unoccupied, it could be at risk for vandalism or unexpected damages, such as a fire or more commonly, water damage.

To protect your property and maintain insurance coverage, we recommend three things:

1. Call your broker to check your insurance policy

This is important in understanding what coverage is needed to cover a property. For example, if an owner leaves for vacation and their property is unoccupied for more than four days, the home will need to be checked (this could be daily or three times a week, depending on the insurance provider) so it will be covered by insurance. Check with your MCT broker on what frequency your home should be checked.

2. Hire someone to check and maintain a property

This includes lawn maintenance, snow removal and having newspapers picked up from the doorstep. This makes the home look occupied and reduces the chance of theft or vandalism.

3. Expect the unexpected when it comes to water damage

This doesn’t just refer to Atlantic Canada weather, such as storms. A pipe which was not turned off could leak and cause significant water damage.

“Vacant and unoccupied properties provide us the opportunity to tell customers what insurance coverage is needed to protect their valuables,” said Jacobi. “Because we have worked for many years in this area of insurance, we have lots of different insurance coverage plans for our customers to choose from.”

See what else you can do to protect a vacant or unoccupied property with tips from our blog.