The Finance Blogger

Vacant Homes and House Insurance

Vacant Homes and House InsuranceVacant homes and house insurance is something every snow bird needs to consider. A friend of mine went away for the winter. He made arrangements for his son to check on his house whenever he was in the neighborhood. Living in a cold climate it is important to make sure that the heat is on to avoid pipes freezing. This situation can cause lots of water damage when the house finally warms up. Anyway his son was checking but on a semi regular basis. One day he goes in to his dad’s house and there is water everywhere. Apparently the heat had been off and the pipes froz. The pipes split and there was water everywhere! $95,000 later and lots of frustration, his house was back to normal about 6 months later.

Vacant Homes and House Insurance

What most people do not know is that unless you have your home checked on a regular basis the insurance company could choose to not cover your claim! This can be a very expensive surprise!

How To Avoid Making an Insurance Claim

So what do you do to avoid any possibility of having your claim denied and even better to avoid having to make a claim at all?

The first step is to call your insurance company and inquire what the rules are. They all differ, so please make the call. We will use an example in this post, but it is only representative and should not be taken as a guideline. One company we know indicates that during the winter if the water is not turned off, you need to have someone check the home every day to make sure that the heat is on and that there is no running water.

If you do turn the water off, then once a week is fine as far as they are concerned. This is a huge difference especially if you need to pay someone to check your home every day.  Failing to meet their requirements could mean that your claim will be denied which could be a very expensive proposition. Another issue to consider is to also have someone document that they visited at the required number of times and can prove that the home was monitored.

Hire a Home Monitoring or Property Management Company

The next step is to arrange for a friend, a neighbor, a family member to check on your home on an agreed to schedule. The schedule is important to make sure that your insurance is maintained and there are not issues with claims if you should happened to need to make one. Friends, neighbors and family members have busy schedules and sometimes cannot commit to meeting the schedule that you need.

Another approach is to hire a company that specializes in this service to look after your home while you are away. A home sitting or property management firm will present you with a contract and a checklist to review. Professional companies of this sort will make sure that the schedule is maintained. Perform all checks based on your needs. Many will also send an email report after each visit to ensure that you have peace of mind while you are away.

But I Don’t Want a Complete Stranger in My Home

This is a huge concern for many people. A complete stranger has full access to your home while you are away. If you are uncomfortable with this, then do not hire a stranger, hire your friends or family members. Just make sure that someone is looking after your home while you are away.

If you do decide to hire a property management company, there are a few things you can do to protect your home and your self. Always ask for references, ask for a contract, ask for a checklist of tasks. Make sure you receive a copy of all documents and if you have anything of value such as jewelry etc, it only makes sense to lock it away or take it with you.

Most companies are completely honest and you should not have any worries. However this is a service that is being sold to you and you should manage the delivery of the service in a professional manner.

If you have had experience with property managers or home sitters, feel free to leave some comments. We would love to hear them, especially any pointers you might have that will help our readers.

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One Response to “Vacant Homes and House Insurance”

  1. thanks for this post. I thought that we did not have to let our insurance company know when we were gone or even have someone look after our home. Makes sense when you think about it to have someone look after and check your home from time to time.

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