Summer is here. There's no doubt COVID-19 has disrupted vacation plans for many. As Virginia slowly reopens and we find safe ways to resume normal activities, everyone could probably use a break away from home! You may be thinking about a local trip right here in the commonwealth. Whether you travel to Virginia’s gorgeous beaches, camp along the Blue Ridge, or visit family, the last thing you want is to worry about something happening to your home while you’re away.
You know the basics: stop your mail, put lights on a timer, and make sure your yard is trim. But there are a few things you may not have thought of. We’ve seen plenty of insurance claims from unexpected catastrophes to know exactly what makes your home the most vulnerable, especially when you're not there to intervene. Discovering a leak three days after a vacation can result in much costlier damage than after eight hours of work. You can protect your home while you’re away by following these simple 4 tasks:
1. Shut off the main water supply.
Justin, our home claims expert, says water leaks are so costly that you should never leave appliances running anytime you leave home. Washing machines are a big culprit of water damage. According to IBHS, supply hose failures on washing machines in unoccupied homes resulted in claims that were, on average, two and a half times worse than those occurring in homes with someone at home.
For summer vacations, the safest move is to turn off your home’s main water supply. That way, you’re protected against indoor flooding incidents from everything from appliance failures to plumbing problems. We even heard a story about neighborhood kids leaving a homeowner’s hose running for two weeks in the yard. Can you imagine that water bill?
2. Bring in that spare key.
The front door mat or flowerpot spot are the first places thieves will look when you’re away. A better place for a spare key for extended times away from home, and even daily emergencies, is a trusted neighbor or friend. A potential burglar has plenty of time to hunt around for even less obvious hiding places when you're gone on vacation.
Smart locks are an increasingly common part of home security systems. Technology has developed faster than security protection against hacking. Make sure you're on a secure network when using the app, change your passwords regularly, and use two-factor authentication whenever possible. Don’t forget we provide a home insurance discount for security devices like deadbolt locks and whole-house security systems.
3. Watch what and when you share on social media.
As tempting as it is to “check-in” to vacation venues on social media, remember that you’re also broadcasting to friends and friends of friends, that you’ve checked out of your home. Share vacation details and pictures after you get home from your vacation and encourage your kids to do the same. It may not be as fun, but it's a lot better for your home and the valuables you've left behind.
4. Get help from next door.
There are tons more great ideas for preparing your home for your vacation, like unplugging your dryer and expensive electronics, and even smaller appliances, like your coffee pot. If you do happen to have a claim this summer, no worries! Give us a call and we’ll help you through it. We also highly recommend making a home inventory of your belongings to help facilitate a speedier claims process.