Did you know you could be sued if a trespasser is injured on your land? This is why landowners should look into the best vacant land insurance companies.
Homeowners wouldn’t go a day without homeowners insurance. Car owners would never go for a drive without up-to-date car insurance. Insurance is very important for peace of mind and financial protection in the case of an accident. If you have vacant land, it is highly recommended that you purchase vacant land insurance to protect yourself if anyone is injured on your property.
Some of the best vacant land insurance companies are Nationwide, State Farm, Geico, Progressive, Farmers Insurance, and Trusted Choice Insurance. Large insurance companies typically offer very affordable vacant land policies, but local insurers may be more responsive to claims.
When you look for the best vacant land insurance companies, it will largely depend on your location. Different states are home to different insurers and will have different laws about insuring vacant land. In general, a landowner should look for a policy that is affordable and that covers personal injury, property damage, and legal fees if you are sued.
Sources include The Motley Fool, HR Legal Resources, FindLaw, The Insurance Neighbor, and Coverage.com.
Table of Contents
Why Do I Need Insurance For Vacant Land?
The purpose of insurance, whether it is for a home, a car, a boat, or a rental unit, is to protect you against accidents that could otherwise cost you a lot of money out of pocket. No one expects to crash their car or for their home to flood, but it is better to be safe than sorry. When you buy homeowners insurance, you are protecting both your home itself as well as your valuables inside.
Vacant land insurance is a little different. While it isn’t legally required that you have insurance for your vacant plot of land, it is highly recommended. Vacant land insurance is purely about liability. Because the land has nothing on it, there is no need to insure against flooding, fire, or theft. The purpose of vacant land insurance is to cover any medical bills and legal fees if someone is injured on your land.
Unlike homes and commercial buildings, it can be easy for hikers, hunters, and mountain bikers to mistakenly wander onto your parcel of land without realizing it. If you have a pond or river on your land, you may also attract fishing enthusiasts. These outdoor activities involve far more risk of injury than having people over to your home would. Even though vacant land insurance isn’t legally required, it can be very beneficial for landowners in case an accident occurs on their property.
Vacant Land & Liability: When Can a Landowner Be Sued For Injury on Their Property?
If someone comes over to your home for a dinner party, falls down the stairs, and breaks their leg, the homeowner is responsible. The guest would be well within their rights to sue you for the cost of their medical bills. If an injury occurs on a parcel of vacant land that you own, you would also be on the hook.
However, liability is a little more complicated when it comes to injuries on vacant land. This is because homeowners typically have a large amount of control over who enters their home. Most activities that take place in a home have a relatively low risk of injury.
Vacant land, on the other hand, can be used for hunting, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, and ATV riding; these are activities that come with a high risk of injury. It is also very easy for someone to break their ankle by tripping over a rock or falling down an incline. Vacant land is also harder to police and keep secure; this means that people may be using your land for sporting activities, cutting through, or trespassing when you are not present.
Additionally, if you use your own vacant land for hunting or target shooting, there is the risk of accidentally shooting someone who is taking a shortcut through your land. Because Stand Your Ground Laws do not apply to vacant land, you would be liable for the incident.
Can a Trespasser Sue a Landowner if They Are Injured on Vacant Land?
While you may not expect to be held liable in cases involving trespassing, there is legal precedent for a trespasser to sue a landowner if they are injured on vacant land. However, this can be very complicated. For the most part, trespassing is illegal, which can render the landowner free from liability, but there are exceptions. It normally comes down to 4 factors: the circumstances, what the landowner knew when, the location, and the level of risk associated with the land.
Generally, it is the landowner’s responsibility to keep the land reasonably free of hazards, such as unmarked sinkholes, improperly stored chemicals, and large ditches that have not yet been filled. If a landowner fails to take proper care of the land, they could be found liable even if the injured party was trespassing. If the landowner is aware that others are trespassing, they can also be held liable for any injuries.
Finally, if it is reasonable for people to enter the vacant land, then you can be held liable for their injuries. This is the case when a vacant plot is not marked as private property or if it is located adjacent to a public area and is not fenced off.
What Does Vacant Land Insurance Cover?
Because vacant land insurance is purely about liability, its primary purpose is to protect you from expenses if someone is harmed on your land. While it can depend on the policy, most vacant land insurance will not cover damage to the land that results in lost income or lost equity for the owner.
When you shop around for vacant land insurance, you should look for a policy that covers:
- The medical bills of the person injured.
- Your own legal fees if you are sued.
- Death benefits if someone dies on your land.
- Any additional costs that an injured party may sue for the cost of, such as lost wages due to the injury or damages for pain and suffering.
Vacant land insurance is actually a lot like auto insurance for new drivers: most policies only cover the other person’s damage and injuries. When you purchase vacant land insurance, it will not cover injuries sustained on the land by you, your family, or contractors who you hire to work on the land. Before building any structures or laying utility lines, you will need to purchase a separate type of builder’s risk insurance or construction insurance.
Your vacant land insurance policy will also not cover injuries inflicted on purpose. For example, if you were to shoot at a trespasser, set out bear traps for trespassers, or attempt to beat up a friend during a fishing expedition, those costs would not be paid by your insurance policy. Insurance is only for accidental and unforeseen injuries and events. The Stand Your Ground Law does not apply to vacant land, so you do not have legal protection to harm trespassers.
What Are The Best Vacant Land Insurance Companies?
All of the major insurance companies will offer vacant land insurance policies:
- State Farm
- Farmers Insurance
- The General Insurance
- Trusted Choice Insurance
However, landowners can choose between buying insurance with a national insurance chain or through a local company. Smaller insurance companies in your area probably offer vacant land insurance, so it can be worth a call to get a quick quote.
The best way to find affordable vacant land insurance is to see if your current insurer offers vacant land policies. If you already have your homeowners or auto insurance with a company, they may offer you a discount if you get another policy with them. Some insurance companies also allow you to combine policies and save on all your monthly premiums.
If your current insurer does not offer policies that cover vacant land, there are a few easy ways to price shop for a good policy.
Tech-savvy landowners can easily compare prices online and find a policy that works for them. Websites like NerdWallet, Market Watch, and Forbes will let you compare insurance rates side by side. However, some websites may sell your contact information, which can lead to a lot of spam calls.
You can also find a reputable vacant land insurance company by asking around. If you have neighbors with vacant land, they may know of a good insurance company. Your real estate agent and the person who sold you the land may also have a good recommendation. One benefit of getting recommendations from others is that you can get honest reviews of the company before you start paying your monthly fees.
The simplest way to find a vacant land insurance company is with a quick online search or by flipping through the Yellow Pages the old-fashioned way. This can help you find a local insurer who has a license to operate in your area. The internet and the Yellow Pages are a great way to find smaller insurance companies that may be more responsive than the larger companies.
How To Choose an Insurance Company
Without a doubt, it is very important to have vacant land insurance in case an accident occurs on your land. The purpose of insurance is to save you from going bankrupt with legal fees and medical bills. However, an insurance policy for your vacant land is only beneficial if the company that offers it holds up its end of the bargain. It isn’t unheard of for insurance companies to deny medical claims for no reason or to be impossible to reach during an emergency.
There are 4 things that you should look for in the best vacant land insurance companies:
1. Good reviews
The company’s reviews will tell you if they make it hard for people to submit claims. Reviews will also give you forewarning if the company frequently denies claims without cause.
2. The size of the company
Larger insurance companies are more lively to offer a wider range of policies, often for a slightly lower price. However, it may be hard to get a hold of someone at a larger company if you need to file a claim, ask a question, or adjust your policy. Smaller companies are less likely to offer vacant land insurance, but they will likely be locally based and more responsive.
3. Third-party rankings
Third-party ranking services, like J.D. Power, normally put out rankings for insurance companies every year. This is an unbiased analysis of a company’s affordability, responsiveness, and overall customer satisfaction. While J.D. Power currently does not provide rankings for companies on their vacant land policies, it can still be a helpful tool for deciding on a quality insurer.
4. The company’s model and structure
Customer support can vary depending on how an insurance company handles claims. Some companies will assign one of their agents to handle each claim. Others may outsource claims to a firm that specializes in processing certain types of claims. Additionally, some insurance companies will be primarily online based; they will probably have an app and will allow you to file claims exclusively online. Others will require you to call or visit a brick-and-mortar store in order to file your claim.
How Much Should I Expect To Pay For Vacant Land Insurance?
Vacant land insurance is normally very affordable. Most landowners pay between $20 and $30 a month for their policy. The cost of a vacant land insurance policy will depend on the size of your land, the value, what is on the land, and if it has fences or No Trespassing signs. Even if a lot of vacant land is worth millions of dollars, the monthly premium for an insurance policy will probably not be more than $100.
What Is The Difference Between Vacant Land Insurance, Construction Insurance, Vacant Home Insurance, and Homeowners Insurance?
When you buy insurance for your vacant land, it is very important that you purchase the right policy. Some landowners mistakenly think that a homeowners policy or a vacant home policy will cover their land; however, each of these policies is only designed for specific stages of the home building process.
If you purchased a vacant plot of land to build a home on, you may want to have vacant land insurance for it. Unlike auto insurance or homeowners insurance, vacant land insurance is not legally required. This type of insurance is only applicable to pieces of land that do not have any man-made structures on them.
When you hire contractors to add utility lines and start building your home, then you will need to purchase construction insurance. This is because vacant land insurance only covers injuries in cases where a friend or trespasser hurts themselves on your land. Vacant land policies do not cover contractors who you have hired to build a structure on your land.
Once a home is fully built, that is when homeowners insurance and vacant land insurance come in. Homeowners' insurance covers injuries inside the home, as well as accidental damage to the home and the value of items in the home. To purchase homeowners insurance, you must own your home and live in it full-time. Because homeowners insurance covers more situations and is a bigger investment than vacant land insurance, it is normally far more expensive than a vacant land policy.
Vacant home insurance is commonly confused with vacant land insurance. While vacant land insurance is for land with nothing on it, vacant home insurance is for homes that are left empty for part of the year. This is a type of insurance that people normally purchase for their vacation home or for a rental property if they do not have a tenant living there for more than 30 days out of the year. A home can also be considered vacant if it has the utilities turned off or if no belongings of value are stored there.
Because vacant homes are at high risk for robbery, vandalism, and damage from being unmaintained, vacant home insurance is several times more expensive than vacant land insurance or homeowners insurance.
When you shop around for a company that provides quality vacant land insurance, it may also be beneficial to see if they also offer these other types of insurance. Whether you are building a home, an apartment complex, or a business on your vacant land, you will need several different types of insurance over the course of the process. Finding a good vacant land insurance company can be very beneficial both in the short run and in the long term.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling