Before you make your holiday travel plans, get your home vacation-ready with this before-you-go checklist.
Whether you’re preparing for a summer trip or planning your holiday travel, it's important to vacation-proof your home before you leave. That’s because while you’re enjoying your time away, your home is vulnerable to a variety of threats, including fire, storm damage and burglary. But taking a few simple steps now can help keep your home and belongings safe while you’re away.
Follow these before-you-go tips to make sure you don’t have any unwelcome—and expensive—surprises upon your return.
Don’t advertise you’re away.
The less occupied a home looks, the more inviting it is to burglars. Whether you’re gone for a few days or a few weeks, try to make your home look like someone is coming and going on a regular basis with these simple tips:
- Put your mail and newspaper delivery on hold or ask a neighbor to pick up your deliveries each day. Nothing announces “no one home” like an overflowing mailbox and a pile of unread newspapers at the door.
- Use automatic timers to turn a few house lights on and off in the evening. Your cell phone may even have an app or two that allows you to control lights remotely.
- Arrange to have the lawn and yard work kept up in your absence.
- Let your neighbors use your driveway, creating the appearance that somebody is home.
Make life hard for burglars.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, research shows that if it takes more than four or five minutes to break into a home, the burglar will go elsewhere. A few simple precautions can slow burglars just enough to make them give up on you and move on.
- Install simple security devices, such as window locks, grates, bars and bolts.
- Install a motion-detecting exterior light near the back of the house or near hidden entrances.
- Trim trees and shrubs so intruders have fewer hiding places.
- Reconsider leaving a “hidden” key outside your home. Chances are most burglars know just where to look for it.
Do a home inspection.
You can lower the risk of fire and water damage by making sure your systems are all in good working order.
- Check your fire and security systems.
- Remember to unplug non-essential appliances when you leave.
- If you are going on an extended vacation, turn the water off at the main valve.
- If you have a sump pump, test it to make sure it’s working. (Just pour a bucket of water into the sump pit to make the water level higher, and then see what happens.)
- Maintain adequate heat or air conditioning to avoid extreme temperatures during your absence.
- Check weather stripping around your windows and doors to avoid leaks and water damage.
Plan for the worst.
No matter how much you prepare, there is still the chance your home could be damaged or robbed while you’re away. While you may not be able to prevent everything, you can at least prepare for it.
- Let a neighbor know you are going out of town and make sure they know how to reach you, should anything happen to your home.
- Check in with your HUB representative to make sure you have appropriate coverage for your home and belongings. A yearly review is a good idea.
- If you have valuable items, such as artwork or jewelry, know that it might not be covered under your homeowners' policy. You may need a separate valuable articles rider. This will make sure you are reimbursed the true value of your items if lost or destroyed due to fire, damage or theft.
- Document all valuable items so you’re not scrambling to remember what you own and what was lost.
- Be sure to bring your HUB customer service contact information with you. If you get a call from a neighbor telling you your home has been damaged, let your HUB broker know as soon as possible.