When Life Happens: Karen’s Insurance Claim Denial

When Karen left her home to care for her ill mother, she expected to be back within a couple of weeks.mold removal birmingham However, as often happens with caregiving, her stay extended over a month. During her absence, an unforeseen event turned her return into a nightmare and a lesson in insurance policies she won’t soon forget.

The Unexpected Surprise

Karen’s first hint that something was wrong came from an unusually high water bill. Alarmed, she called her neighbor to check on the house. The neighbor discovered a waterline break that had been leaking for an extended period. By the time the problem was found, significant water damage and mold had spread throughout the house, causing thousands of dollars in additional damage.

The Claim and the Shocking Denial

Feeling the stress of returning to a damaged home, Karen quickly filed a claim with her insurance company, hoping to receive the assistance she needed to repair her home. However, she was met with an unexpected denial. The reason? She had been away for more than two weeks without notifying her insurance company.

Karen’s insurance agent explained that most homeowner’s policies require the homeowner to inform the insurer if the home will be vacant for more than two weeks. This notification is crucial because it allows the insurer to update the policy to cover a vacant property. Without this update, the home is considered abandoned, and claims for damages incurred during that period may be denied.

Understanding Insurance Policies: A Crucial Step

Karen’s story is a stark reminder of the importance of understanding the fine print in insurance policies.Many homeowners are unaware of clauses that require notification of extended absences. Here are a few key points to consider:

  1. Notification Requirements: Most homeowner’s insurance policies require policyholders to notify the insurance company if the home will be vacant for more than a specified period, typically two weeks.
  2. Vacant Property Coverage: Standard homeowner’s insurance may not cover damages that occur while the home is vacant. Additional coverage may be necessary.
  3. Potential Risks: Vacant homes are more susceptible to issues like undetected leaks, break-ins, and vandalism. Insurers view these risks as higher, which is why notification is necessary.
  4. Policy Adjustments: If you plan to be away, especially for caregiving or extended travel, contact your insurance agent to discuss the best way to ensure your home is protected.

What Homeowners Can Learn

Karen’s situation, while unfortunate, provides valuable lessons for all homeowners. Here are steps to take if you plan to be away from home for an extended period:

  • Notify Your Insurer: Always inform your insurance company if you will be away for more than the allowed period.
  • Check Your Policy: Review your policy for clauses related to vacancy and understand what steps are required to maintain coverage.
  • Consider Additional Coverage: If necessary, update your policy to include coverage for a vacant property.
  • Turn Off the Water Supply: If possible, turn off the main water supply to prevent potential leaks while you’re away.
  • Arrange for Regular Checks: Have a trusted neighbor or hire a service to check your home regularly while you are away to catch potential issues early.


Karen’s experience serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of staying informed and proactive regarding insurance policies. While dealing with her mother’s illness was her top priority, the unexpected consequences of an unattended home added significant stress and financial burden. By taking steps to understand and comply with your insurance policy’s requirements, you can avoid similar pitfalls and ensure that your home is protected, even when life takes you away from it unexpectedly.

Don’t be a Karen—take the necessary precautions to protect your home while you’re on a prolonged trip.