It’s that time of year when scores of Northerners plan to escape winter’s icy grip for a winter vacation. If that applies to you, making sure your home is properly prepared and secured before you head south could prevent a catastrophe. Follow these winter home safeguarding tips to help avoid a costly insurance claim.
- Furnace Check: It’s always advisable to get your furnace checked on an annual basis, so make sure a licensed professional has verified yours is in good, working order. If the furnace goes out while you’re away, you could risk frozen/burst pipes with no one there to deal with it. Tip: Remote temperature monitoring allows you to check your home via smartphone, tablet or other device.
- Speaking of Pipes: Make sure your pipes are protected and insulated and maintain the thermostat at least 55°. As an extra safety measure, you can shut off the water and drain the system. Also, if you’ll be away for more than three days, turn your water heater down or turn it off. For an electric unit, turn the temperature dial down or turn it off at the circuit breaker panel. For a natural gas unit, turn it down to “low” or “vacation mode.”
- Anybody Home? Make arrangements to have your driveway and sidewalk cleared in the event of a snowstorm, and have a trusted neighbor check the house frequently to ensure everything is okay. Install timers on indoor and outdoor lights so the home appears occupied.
- Home Security System: Winter home safeguarding tips aren’t always about weather—consider investing in a monitoring alarm system to ward off burglars and vandals. Inform the alarm company that you will be on vacation.
- Don’t Advertise on Social Media: Resist the urge to post pictures on social media websites while you’re away. It’s important that you avoid publicizing your vacation on social media and tempting ne’er-do-wells or would-be burglars to break into your house. There’s plenty of time to share your photos after you get home.
- Kill Energy “Vampires”: More of a cost-saving measure—did you know that up to 10 percent of the average electricity bill comes from electronic devices or appliances that are powered off? TVs, DVD/Blu-Ray players, computer monitors, satellite/cable boxes—even remote-controlled garage door openers use energy when they’re powered off. Unplug all unnecessary electronics and appliances throughout your home.
- Mail & Other Home Deliveries: You would not put a sign on the front of your house reading, “We’re Out of Town,” but that’s literally what an overflowing mailbox does. So if you’re planning to leave town for an extended period of time, you can instruct the U.S. Postal Service to hold your mail while you are away for trips lasting between three and 30 days. Also be sure to cancel other regular deliveries, such as newspapers, for the duration of your time away. The other option is to have a trusted friend, neighbor or relative collect your mail and packages daily.
One of the winter home safeguarding tips that may not be so obvious: If you will be away from your primary home for a month or more, you should meet with your insurance agent to request an endorsement or a special permit. In some cases, there may be a nominal charge for a permit or endorsement.
When misfortune strikes and causes damage to your home, contact Miller Public Adjusters for a free claim review. We can help you navigate through the complexities of a property damage claim and add value to your settlement. Call us toll-free at 866-443-5167.