Vacant and Unoccupied – Insurance Claim

Property insurers often reject claims based on the vacant and unoccupied provisions in the policy.  Often times the insurance company breaches its contract when it improperly rejects claims based on these provisions. 

In Independent Fire Insurance Comnpany v. Butler, 362 So. 2d 980 (Fla. 1st DCA 1978), the First District Court of Appeal defined the terms “vacancy” and “occupancy”.  The term vacancy as used in these policies applies to inanimate objects.  Therefore, a court will look to furniture or furnishings located in the property to determine whether the property is vacant.  The term “occupied” referse to a dwelling which is in actual use by human beings.  It is not essential that someone sleep in a dwelling in order to render it occupied.  Occupancy is largely a matter of intent.  A court will look to the nature and character of the building, the purposes for which it is designed, an the uses contemplated by the parties as expressed in the insurance contract.

If your insurance company denied a claim based on the vacant and unoccupied policy provision, you may have a right to recover based on these definitions.