You have waited a long time for this, and it is finally here: You are going on vacation! But before you pack that suitcase and head out the door, there are some important things to consider while away. Whether you are safeguarding your home or closing a vacation property for the season, protect your investment from the elements, theft, vandalism, or anything else that might occur in your absence. Give yourself the ultimate vacation gift — peace of mind.
Most vacationers assume that preparing to be away from their property simply means engaging in the age-old traditions of asking someone to pick up the mail and leaving a light with a timer in the window. This is a good place to start, but there are other factors to consider, such as potential power surges and outages, HVAC operations and the security of doors and windows.
Read on for more ideas on how to cover all your bases, and what to do if the worst occurs.
Leave the Light On
The biggest fear about leaving your property is the idea of theft or vandalism. Homeowners are justifiably concerned that their obvious absence could invite robberies or trespassing. There are several common sense practices to put in place while you are away from your house or vacation property. Yes, setting timed lights during the evening hours is still a viable strategy for warding off intruders. It is as simple as gathering a few lamps and investing in some plug-in timers from your local hardware store.
These days, there are also more modern, digital options for setting light timers via smart systems like Google Nest. Many smart apps also allow homeowners to check on their properties “live” via security cameras or by receiving notifications that will alert them when something is amiss.
Thieves have resorted to skimming social media to find when over-sharers will be out of town. Do not share your vacation plans with any one you do not know personally or trust and wait until you return to post photos on the Internet or social media. Internet scoping is the new “casing the neighborhood” for would-be burglars. Do you have a home security system? This is the time to let it shine. Alert the company that you will be out of town, so operators know that if any kind of alarm is set off, it likely was not an accident.
If you are fortunate enough to have a vacation property, ask neighbors or local police enforcement to check in from time to time to confirm that all doors and windows remain secure and unbreeched. Leave a key with a trusted friend who can make sure everything is in working order inside, as well as all the little things like watering your plants, taking out the trash, etc.
The last thing vacationers feel like thinking about is how to prepare their homes for a long-term absence, which may include spending time arranging for lawn or pool care, pausing mail and deliveries, and doing preemptive maintenance. Make sure all outdoor lighting is in working order and, if possible, put a timer or motion sensor on them.
When your mind is set on the beach or mountains, it is likely you are not thinking about what the weather might bring back home. If you are escaping during the summer months, make sure your property is prepared for severe storms: secure outdoor furniture, throw out debris and store garbage cans inside.
Prepare for heavy rain by checking that your sump pump is in good working order. Put a neighbor on standby to keep an eye out for damage like falling limbs. It may feel like a pain to make all these plans, but in the long run, it may save you from dealing with a huge mess upon returning home.
Closing for the Season
Closing a vacation property for the season is always bittersweet. Keep the memories coming for your next visit by preparing your cabin, cottage, or lake house for a period of inactivity. You will want to store outdoor furniture or anything that may not be used for some time in a shed or garage.
Pipe care is a big factor for many properties, as burst pipes can cause devastating water damage to a property without inhabitants. If you will be gone long term, either shut off the water or, especially during colder months, leave faucets dripping to eliminate frozen pipes. It is advisable to leave the heat or air conditioning system on to avoid freezing conditions or moisture from humidity.
Keep Calm and Claim
Even our best plans and intentions sometimes cannot prevent acts of nature or a determined thief. If you return to your property to find valuables missing or a flooded basement, try to remain calm. It is upsetting and can leave you feeling vulnerable and stressed, but there are some easy steps to take to get everything safe, secure, and running again.
Take stock of anything that has gone missing if you are the victim of a robbery. Write down the items you can remember in as much detail as possible. It is also helpful to search through old photographs or videos that may show what you once possessed to provide proof — receipts are great for this as well.
Contact the authorities and file a police report. This will document the event and help law enforcement to be on the lookout for the perpetrator. Contact your insurance company right away.
Property Damage? Call AI/BLC Today.
If you are dealing with property damage of any kind, make sure the area is protected from further damage and is safe, then call a professional public adjuster. By first contacting an adjuster, you will save yourself the headache of figuring out what to include in your insurance claim and how to approach processing it.
A trusted adjuster from Adjuster International/Basloe, Levin & Cuccaro will work closely with you to file a proper claim, whether it involves your main living space or a vacation property and remove the burden. We work for you — the policyholder. Your well-being and best interests are our main concern, and we are here to help. If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out.