So your bags are packed and you’re ready to go.
But are you?
Vacations are a great way to relieve stress and get away for a while, but a call to your broker will ensure your trip goes smoothly and you don’t return home to unwanted surprises.
Step 1 – make sure your home is ready for vacation too. Standard wording in a homeowner insurance policy limits coverage if you’re away over the winter months or “heating” season. The limitation relates to water in your pipes freezing, which could happen if your heating system also decides to take a few days off.
This coverage exclusion can easily be resolved in one of two ways: you can shut off the water supply to your home and drain your pipes; or you can have someone you trust enter your home every 24 hours to confirm your heating system is still operating. Make sure they can reach you, or are able to have the problem fixed on your behalf.
If you’ve chosen to turn off your water and have your pipes drained, you should be aware that toilets don’t completely drain of water. Try adding antifreeze to the bowls to prevent freezing should the temperature drop. Consider a marine antifreeze that’s ecologically friendly.
There’s no need to leave electronics plugged in while you’re away. Even if they’re attached to surge protectors, it’s still safer to unplug them.
To give your home that still lived-in look, you may want to leave a few things plugged into time-delayed sensors. But don’t stop there! Make sure your mail and newspapers are being picked up, or stop their delivery. You should also have snow removal (or lawn cutting) taken care of while you’re away.
Leave a spare key with a friend or neighbour, instead of hiding one around your front door. Same goes for the inside of the house – don’t hide your jewellery or valuables; store them in a safety deposit box.
Posting your beautiful vacation photos on social media alerts others that your home is empty. Even if the photos are intended only for friends, they can easily extend beyond this group. Share your pictures once you’re home!
Lastly, many people rent cars when they’re on vacation and needlessly pay for insurance coverage. You may be surprised to learn you’re already covered under your policy. If not, your broker can arrange it at a fraction of the cost of what rental agencies charge, and explain limits on vehicle types, values and locales.