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Spring 2020  Volume 16, Number 1        


Insurance for When Your House is not Your Home

This can be an important matter in couple of instances: You're living away from home for an extended period or you're renting out all or part of your home.

Temporarily Living Away from Home

Suppose you leave your home "unoccupied" more than 60 days? Just to be clear, in insurance terms, your home in that situation probably wouldn't be "vacant" because that's when there is no personal property in the house. "Unoccupied" would be the correct term, since that's when there's no one staying in the house but there's at least some furniture.

Maybe you're on an extended trip or getting medical treatment far away or even renovating your house. These scenarios could potentially void your homeowners policy.

In situations like these your house is at much greater risk for vandalism, theft, weather-related perils and fire. Your policy premium, however, is based on lower-risk assumptions about your property.

One way to address the problem is to ask a house sitter to watch your home on a regular basis. Many insurance companies consider a home with a house sitter as occupied and won't charge any additional premium.

On the other hand, if your house in undergoing extensive repairs over a long period of time, you should tell your insurance agent. There may be an additional premium due but at least your coverage won't be void because the property is considered unoccupied or vacant.

The same applies when leaving town for a lengthy period. Make sure you have the unoccupied home insurance coverage you need.

Renting Your Home to Strangers

The other situation when your house is not your home is when you decide to take advantage of home sharing opportunities through a peer-to-peer network such as Airbnb, Vrbo or Kayak. This can be a great way to bring in extra money but what if your renter starts a fire and damages your property or is hurt while renting your home, will you be protected?

Before you consider renting out your home, your guest room — or even your couch — first contact your insurance professional so you fully understand the financial risks and can take the proper precautions. Here's some general information from the Insurance Information Institute about what they call to jumpstart your insurance conversation.

If you are considering renting out your home, your guest room or even your couch your first step should be to contact your insurance professional. Peer-to-peer home sharing opportunities such as Airbnb can be a great way to bring in extra money and are increasingly popular; however, they can also leave you financially vulnerable. If your renter starts a fire and damages your property or is hurt while renting your home, will you be protected?

Homeowners and renters insurance policies are designed for personal risks, not commercial risks. If you don't rent out your home or rooms in your home on a regular basis you be able to purchase a home-sharing liability insurance policy that can be on a month-to-month basis.

Occasional Home Rental

There may be times when a major event in an area — the Super Bowl, say, or a graduation at a major university — depletes local hotel space. In these cases, it's common for people to rent out their home or part of it for the extra cash it brings in.

Many insurance companies take this situation into account when creating a homeowners or renters policy and, with enough advance notice, will extend your coverage to the renter on a one-time basis. Other insurance companies may require the purchase of an endorsement to the policy to provide broader coverage for the renters in your home.

Making a Business of Renting Your House

However, if you plan to rent out all or part of your home on a regular basis, many companies will consider this a business use and you may need to purchase a business policy — specifically either a hotel or a bed-and-breakfast policy.

If You Are The Renter

If you are the one using a peer-to-peer network to rent a space from someone else, check your own homeowners or renters insurance policy. In most cases, if your personal possessions are stolen or damaged off-premises, you can simply file a claim with your own insurer. And if you accidentally injure someone, you should also be financially protected.

In both cases, be sure to let your agent know ahead of time, so you can be prepared.

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In this issue:

This Just In...

Insurance for When Your House is not Your Home

Travel Insurance to the Rescue

Busting Auto Insurance Myths

Important Travel Insurance Add-ons



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