Monday 10 June 2019

Long vacations and your home insurance

Summer's coming and with it vacation season.  There's a lot to think about when planning your vacation - flights and hotels, what to pack, maybe making arrangements for pets while you're away, stopping mail and newspaper delivery.  And it's not a bad idea to get travel insurance in case you get sick or injured on the trip.

But there's another insurance consideration many may not think about, and that is making sure everything is square with your home insurance.

Home insurance policies generally assume the property will be lived in on an ongoing basis.  Insurers don't like homes being vacant for long periods of time because it increases risk.  For one thing, when no one is in the home there can be an increased chance of burglary.  And even if nothing so nefarious happens, if the roof starts leaking or a pipe bursts or something else goes wrong in the home, there's no one around to see it and do anything about it.  This means the problem could potentially cause a lot more damage than it would if someone were home and catching it immediately. 

These are ongoing concerns for vacant properties like estates or unoccupied rentals, but it also comes into play with owner-occupied homes if you are away for an extended time.  If you're just going for a 3-4 day camping trip, then it's probably nothing to worry about. But if you're going away for a long vacation, especially something like a month or two, then it's almost certain the insurance company will want some steps taken to help keep the home secure.

What they want will vary, but may include practical things like making sure the main water supply is shut off and that someone checks on the property periodically to make sure everything is okay.

Home insurance policies will also vary on how long a home can be vacant before it becomes an insurance issue...  So if you're going away, it's not a bad idea to touch base with your insurer or broker to find out what obligations and steps are necessary on your end.  As with all things insurance related, it's "better safe than sorry".

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