Traveling for the Holidays and Home Insurance
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It's important to fully protect your home before you leave on a holiday vacation. Home insurance covers perils like fire, theft, vandalism, and damage caused by certain natural disasters, even when you're not at home. However, there are some reasonable steps you need to take to secure your home or else you may not be able to get a claim payout if you’re robbed or your home is destroyed. Let’s take a look at what you need to do before you pack.
1. Take Home Security Measures, Prevent Robbery
Most home insurance policies require you to take reasonable precautions to protect your property when you're away. Failing to take precautions could prevent a claim payout from your insurer if you were negligent in, say, not fixing a broken lock.
During a robbery, 34% of burglars use the front door. First-floor windows make up 23% of entry points used by burglars and 22% use the back door. This is why locking doors and windows with deadbolts and setting alarms is always a good idea.
Keep valuables away from windows or use window treatments to keep your belongings out of sight. Smart lights that turn on and off at intervals can also create the perception that you are home.
2. Properly Store Important Documents
Passports, birth certificates, wills, deeds and insurance policies should be kept in a fireproof safe or a secure offsite location, in case of a flood, fire or burglary.
3. Check Your Policy: Vacant Homes and Time Limits
Some home insurance policies have limitations on coverage if your home is vacant for an extended period of time. Usually, your coverage ends after 30 days. If you plan to be away for a longer period of time, call your insurance agent to discuss any potential coverage adjustments or endorsements that can protect you beyond your policy’s limits.
Vacant home insurance is designed to protect people who are away for months at a time. There is also a special endorsement for extended travel, which may be a great add-on to your home insurance policy. Your insurance agent can go over which endorsements best fit your situation.
4. Get a Home Security System: Earn Discounts
A home security system may include:
- Motion detectors
- Door and window sensors
- Alarm systems
- Access control measures.
Having a home security system, such as burglar alarms, surveillance cameras or smart home security technology can help deter theft and may qualify you for insurance discounts.
A home monitoring service can offer real-time surveillance and notifications. These services can help keep an eye on your property and alert you to potential problems.
5. Buy Additional Riders: Protect Valuables You Travel With
Some home insurance policies offer identity theft protection, which can be helpful during travel when you're using credit cards and sharing personal information.
6. Make Sure Smoke Detectors Are Working
If you have smart sensors, you can be alerted immediately if they detect smoke. Your insurer may even lower your home insurance premium by up to 5% if you maintain your home sensor.
7. Survey Your Home for Problems: Avoid Filing a Claim Later
To avoid having to file an expensive homeowners insurance claim, address any home maintenance issues that may lead to problems. Check for leaks, check HVAC systems and all other systems to make sure they function properly. The last thing you need is your pipes freezing while you’re away from home.
8. Renting Out Your Property: Buy the Right Policy
If you plan to rent out your home during your holidays, inform your insurance company beforehand. You may need to buy landlord or rental dwelling insurance to have coverage. If you plan to rent through AirBnb, make sure you have adequate home insurance. Never rely on AirBnb’s insurance alone, and do not pause your home insurance, which will result in higher rates when you buy it down the line.
9. Review Your Policy: Why Inventories Are Important
It may have been a couple of years since you reviewed your insurance policy. Since then, have you bought new furniture, a Peloton bike or any items that leave you short on your personal property (sometimes called “contents”) coverage? Periodically review your home insurance policy against an updated inventory and price list to ensure that you have adequate coverage to rebuild your home and replace your possessions.
10. Install Outdoor Lights
Burglars are less inclined to break in well-lit areas. Flood lights with motion-activated sensors are especially useful because they startle and deter potential intruders.
11. Contact USPS and Other Delivery Services
Have your mail and deliveries paused to avoid rousing suspicion about whether or not you’re away. You’ll also avoid having your mail stolen, which may have private information in it that will leave you vulnerable. Simply go to the post office when you return and gather your mail and start up your delivery subscriptions then too.
12. Don’t Announce Your Trip on Social Media
Aside from close friends and family, you really don’t need to let people know that you’re leaving your home for a long period of time. Announcing it on Facebook or Instagram will leave you more vulnerable to a robbery.