Are you traveling for the holidays and leaving your home unattended? Follow these tips to maintain your home, help prevent damage or theft, and help avoid insurance coverage issues:
Keep your thermostat on. If it will be cold while you’re away, make sure to keep your thermostat on and programmed to at least 55 degrees. Your homeowners policy may not cover damage from frozen or broken pipes if you don’t maintain the temperature in your home.
Take precautions to prevent fires. Before you leave, unplug any electronics that don’t need power while you’re gone. Not only will it save you money on your energy bill, but it can also lower the risk of an electrical fire.
Take out the trash. As you’re leaving, don’t forget to take out your trash. You don’t want to come home to rancid smells and run the risk of vermin or pests taking up residence while you’re away.
Talk to your insurer. If you’re planning a long trip, talk to your insurance company or agent. Most homeowners policies have an absence exclusion. For example, some policies will not cover theft or vandalism if you are gone for more than 60 days.
Turn off water. Consider turning off your main water valve and draining your pipes to help prevent water damage. So, if a pipe bursts or leaks while you’re away, the only water that can run out is the water still in the lines.
Lock up your home and secure sliding glass doors. Make sure all doors and windows are locked and secured before you head out. Consider adding a wooden pole or thick dowel to sliding glass doors as an extra precaution.
Tell neighbors you’ll be out-of-town. Even if you rarely talk to your neighbors, it is a good idea to let them know if you’ll be out-of-town for an extended period. They can keep an eye on your home and notice any unusual activity.
Keep up appearances. A good way to deter theft is to give the impression that you are still home. Consider asking someone to bring in your garbage and recycling bins and pick up your mail and newspapers so they don’t pile up. You can also request that the postal service hold your mail.
Use light timers and motion sensors. Consider buying a light timer and program it to turn on your interior lights for several hours each evening. If you don’t already have motion-sensitive lights outside, consider installing them before you leave.
Get a home security system. Many security systems today have apps that allow you to monitor your home while you’re away on vacation. If you install a security system, make sure to let your insurance agent or company know – you may be able to get a discount.