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When you’re planning to travel, you prepare a lot of things. You book your flights and accomodations, pack your bags, and tie up loose ends at work. But what do you do to prepare your home? Taking time to prepare your house for an extended vacation can save you the stress of a property insurance claim arising while you’re away—and the headache of returning home to an unwanted surprise! Keep reading to find out why preparing your home for travel is a step you definitely should not skip.
If your house isn’t properly prepared for your extended vacation, you could have to deal with:
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, either! Many vacation-related property claims are often things that feel completely unexpected. So whether it’s due to heavy snowfall or a nasty summer storm, it’s true that anything can happen.
If you have property insurance in place, you will be covered for most unexpected events that occur while you’re away—providing you’re not at-fault. But, it’s important to know that many policies include clauses to ensure your property is cared for regularly during your absence.
Oftentimes, policies require someone to physically attend to your property daily during your vacation, to make sure that any potential risks are mitigated, both inside and outside of your home. This helps make sure that if something does go wrong, it can be fixed, repaired, or reported and dealt with quickly and effectively—saving both you and your insurance company a lot of work and money!
Just remember that every policy is a little different, so it’s always best to review your insurance policy’s individual requirements.
Natural disasters tend to come on quickly, making them very hard to plan for and giving you one more reason to have a great property insurance policy in place! Whenever you leave your home, it’s a good idea to take your property insurance information with you, or leave it with someone like a trusted neighbour or friend back home. Because in the event that a natural disaster occurs while you’re away, as long as you have access to your insurance information, a claim can be started while you’re out of town. (An insurance adjuster can even come out to your property while you’re gone, and in some cases, repairs can even be completed before you get home!)
It’s a good idea to prepare your home anytime you leave for as little as one night, because the unexpected can literally happen at any time! But of course, shorter absences will likely take less time and preparation than extended ones, and there are different considerations based on the duration of your vacation.
If you’re taking a mini-vacation that’s just a few days long,start planning a few days ahead of your departure. For more extended vacations that range from 1-3 weeks, give yourself 7-10 days, to ensure you’ve considered and planned for various possibilities. And for long-term vacations that are one month or longer, start planning a couple of weeks prior to your getaway.
It’s your responsibility to act in accordance with your property insurance policy. If it requires that someone checks in on your property regularly and consistently in your absence, make these arrangements well in advance. Because if this isn’t done, and something happens that results in a loss for you, there’s a chance that the claim will be denied. And in some extreme cases, your policy may even be terminated!
Unplug any electrical items or appliances you don’t need plugged in while you’re away. This will save you money and reduce the chance of a fire. Also, be sure to throw away any food items that will go bad while you’re gone. You don’t want to come back to a stinky, gross mess in your fridge!
You may also want to save some costs on your electrical bills while you’re gone! Consider turning down your air conditioning or heat while you’re away.
Turn off your water supply! Switching your water valves to the “off” position will reduce the chance of leaks, floods, and problems with your pipes or toilets while you’re away. You may also want to turn off your hot water tank if you’re gone for an extended period of time. You won’t be using it anyway!
It’s a good idea to install fresh batteries and make sure your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working properly before you go.
Set some lights on timers if you can. This will make it seem like your house is occupied while you’re away, helping to deter potential burglars. You may also want to adjust the blinds or curtains in your house, to limit visibility to the inside.
Water your plants before you go. And, if you don’t have someone looking after your place while you’re gone, consider watering alternatives to keep them healthy!
Don’t forget to plan for the pets! Whether you’re gone for a night or a month, you’ll want to ensure that you have proper planning in place for the animals you’re leaving behind. Be sure to leave ample food and water, and instructions for whoever is caring for them.
Before you go, clean up! The last thing you’ll want after coming back from a vacation is a messy home. Taking some time to clean before you ensures a welcoming return.
In the excitement of leaving for your vacation, don’t forget to lock up and arm your security system, to make sure your home is protected while you’re away.
Cut the grass, clear the snow—do whatever you need to do to keep your sidewalk and driveway clear! Not only will this save you from potential liability claims from visitors to your property, it also signals that someone is home. If you’re gone for a long period of time, arrange for someone to regularly cut your grass or clear your snow, too.
An overstuffed mailbox is a clear indication that the homeowners are away! Arrange to have someone collect and hold your mail for you while you travel if possible, to deter potential burglars (and make sure you get your mail).
If you have a pool, you’ll want to ensure that someone is maintaining it for you when you’re gone, especially during summer months. Coming back to a green pool won’t be fun for anyone.
Be sure you put out your garbage and recycling before you leave, or arrange for someone to do it while you’re gone.
Remember, many property insurance policies require you to have someone who regularly inspects your house while you’re away. So it’s a very good idea to have someone you trust watch over your home while you’re away if you can. If no one you know personally is willing or able to help with this, there are services that you can hire to check in on your home for a fee.
Everyone loves to share their excitement about upcoming vacations, but use caution when doing so on social media! Posting that you’ll be away on social platforms—especially when you include specific dates—is an invitation to any thieves who may be eyeing up your property.
You’ll also want to avoid posting vacation pictures while you’re away, because it lets others know that your property may be sitting unsupervised. Waiting to post those pictures until you’re home safe will help protect your home. Plus, it lets you stay in the moment while you’re in vacation mode!