Summer is here and that means schools are out and vacations are in! Whether you travel to Virginia’s gorgeous beaches, camp along the Blue Ridge, or head out of state, the last thing you want is to worry about something happening to your home while you’re away.
Everyone knows the basics: stop your mail, put lights on a timer, and make sure your yard stays trim. But we’ve seen plenty of unexpected catastrophes to know exactly what makes your home the most vulnerable, especially when no one’s there to intervene. Discovering a leak 8 days after a vacation can result in much costlier damage than after 8 hours of work. So, do your best to prevent an issue at home while you’re gone by following these simple 4 home protection 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, but washing machines are the major culprit of problems. According to IBHS, washing machine water supply hose failures in unoccupied homes resulted in claims that were on average 2.5 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 paying a sneaky visit and leaving a homeowner’s hose running for 2 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. When you’re gone on vacation, a potential burglar has plenty of time to hunt around for even less obvious hiding places.
Smart locks are an increasingly common part of home security systems. Unfortunately, the technology has been developed faster than its security protection against hacking. If you have a smart locks, it might be good to revert back to keys if possible for your vacation. Otherwise, make sure you're on a secure network when using the app. Don’t forget we provide a home insurance discount for security devices like dead bolt 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 much fun, but it’s a whole lot better for your home and the valuables you’ve left behind.
4. Get help from next door
Strong Virginia communities are built on neighbors helping each other. This is especially true when you can enlist a set of protective eyes and ears to keep watch over your home while you’re away. They know what belongs and what doesn't belong in the neighborhood- the strange parked car, the person walking behind the house. They can bring in any packages that get delivered to your home. And maybe this is the safe place for that spare key! Then they can also access your home if there’s an emergency while you’re away. Don’t forget to leave them with a couple of good contact numbers to reach you on vacation.
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 strong and speedy claims process.
If you pay attention to these 4 home protection practices, you should come back to things just as you left them; safe and sound.