If you are leaving your home for a lengthy period (over 4 days), you must make sure that you understand how your insurance works when you are not occupying your home. The first and most important thing to do is to call your insurance company and inform them of your absence, and inquire if there are any special precautions that you have to take before your departure.
Remember, an unoccupied home is at greater risk of damage and more susceptible to theft. What most people don’t know, and many people in the insurance industry don’t tell you, is that you’ve made a promise to your insurer that you’ll do certain things in the event you leave home for four or more days. It’s important to note that unlike automobile policies, there is no uniformity amongst property insurance policies.
Here are some basic preventative measures most insurance companies will advise you on that can help you avoid unfortunate situations such as theft, power surges and broken pipes:
- Have someone check your property if you are going away for more than three days and specifically ask them to check for any water leakage in the basement or ceilings.
- Unplug non-essential appliances to help protect them from power surges and to save on energy.
- Have a neighbour remove newspapers and flyers outside your home. If that is not possible, then put your mail and paper delivery on hold until you are back.
- If you have a home alarm system, let the alarm company know when you’ll be away and ensure that your call list is up-to-date.
- Invest in a timer so it looks like the home is occupied both inside and outside.
- Let a neighbor know where you’re going, when you’ll return and how to reach you. Ask them to call if they notice anything strange.
- During the wintertime make arrangements to have the snow shoveled when necessary.
- Ensure you maintain proper level of heating in your home to avoid pipes from freezing.
- Shut off the water and insulate any pipes that pass through cold zones, such as the attic, so the pipes don’t freeze and burst.
- And most important, don’t mention your absence on social media.