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Insurance May Deny Claim If Property Is Vacant Too Long

7:33 PM, Dec 16, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- While Norma Jeanne was remodeling her condo, she didn't live in it for more than 30 days.

Furnished and insured, the unit was broken into, vandalized and damaged during her absence.

"I always read my policy, but it just did not sink in - that 30-day occupancy thing," she said.

Jeanne has an HO-6 insurance policy for condominium owners. When she filed a claim for the damage after the break-in, she discovered a clause that requires continuous residency.

"They would not pay the claim because it was not occupied," said Jeanne.

She pushed the issue and eventually her insurance company settled the claim, but the process left her in disbelief. "I had no idea that that clause was in there - none," she said.

Was the insurance company right in denying the claim?

David Miller, CEO of Brightway Insurance, said by the terms of the policy the insurance company has a right to deny claims for loss if the property sits vacant 30 days prior to the loss.

Even if the policy-holder is still paying premiums. "Anyone that has a homeowners' policy needs to keep in mind it is designed for them to be living in their house," said Miller.

Miller said if a homeowner plans to live elsewhere for more than 30 days, he should contact his agent.

"They need to have a different policy to make sure that they have coverage in case there's a loss," he said.

In a state where there are vacation homes and a large number of vacant condos, Jeanne wonders how many property owners know that they're investment is not covered during some vacancies.

"I think everybody needs to know about this because I have talked to anyone that does know it is in there, that clause is in almost every insurance policy," she said.

First Coast News

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