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Disaster-proof your property before you head out on holiday

If you call yourself a snowbird, you’re not alone.

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians will be taking an extended trip this winter – flying to warmer climates, to escape winter’s grasp. Others will embrace Canada’s snowy weather and embark on extended trips to enjoy the country’s best skiing or snowmobiling.

Whether your vacation will take you to sand or to snow, Christina Martin, Vice President of KRGinsure, says it’s crucial that you prepare your property for while you’re gone.

“We’ve seen it all – burglaries, unchecked water damage, fires,” says Christina. “It’s not abnormal for homeowners to call us to file a claim, after weeks to months of leaving their home or cottage unattended.”

Make arrangements
The best time to start preparing for your trip is now, by informing a trusted neighbour or family member and asking them to check in on your property every 24 to 48 hours.

This is a critical first step, according to Christina.

“Most property insurance policies will deny claims for properties that have been left unattended for over 24 to 48 hours, so you must have someone stop in regularly to make sure everything is okay.”

While they’re there, have your house-sitter remove any evidence of your absence. It only takes a few minutes to collect the mail, shovel the walkways, and remove any newspapers left on the front porch, but it’s hugely important in deterring break-ins.

Next, inform your insurance broker of your absence. Under most policies, you could have claims denied if your broker isn’t informed.

“That means you could be liable for any damages from a break-in, or damage caused by frozen plumbing, failed heating systems, or the like – and that’s something no one wants to return to after a long, relaxing break,” says Christina.

Unplug before you unplug
While frozen plumbing is a common issue for vacant homes and cottages during the winter, fires are also very common, especially among older cottages. The culprit, Christina notes, is often faulty wiring and overworked outlets.

While it’s a great idea to set your lights to come on and off while you’re gone, giving onlookers the illusion of you being home, it’s also important to critically examine your outlets before you leave.

“Misuse of power bars and extension cords is a leading cause of electrical fires,” says Christina. “It’s one that we see so often.”

Now’s the time to also pay attention to your appliances. Replace or unplug any appliances with exposed wires or cords that generate excessive heat. If a device makes strange noises or operates improperly, it could be a sign of things to come, says Christina.

“Don’t wait until the cord catches fire. It could happen while you’re gone. And that’s not something anyone is prepared for.”

Say less online
It can be tempting to channel your inner travel blogger but posting photos and videos of your trip on social media while you’re away can be a risky decision.

“Letting the world know you’re gone and how long you’ll be away is an open invitation to anyone who may want to break in.”

If you take amazing photos of your family, resort, or surrounding sites, hold off on posting them until you return. “Take lots of photos. Embrace the moment… but wait until you get home to let your followers know where you’ve been.”

Protect with the right policy
Take the time to review your property insurance policy before you leave. Make sure you know what’s covered, and what will be provided should you have to file a claim.

“Not all policies are equal,” says Christina. “We love Pembridge Property Insurance Policy because of how comprehensive it is.”

At Pembridge, comprehensive property insurance policyholders receive coverage for their home and other structures on their property, including garages, sheds, bunkies, personal belongings, and their contents.

“If your property is struck by lightning, an explosion, falling objects, vandalism, theft, fire, glass breakage, smoke, wind, hail, or water damage, this coverage will replace the contents with items of similar value, without depreciation.”

Policy holders are also insured in case an incident on their property harms other people or their property.

It’s not always easy to understand policy details, which is why the KRG team is always available to make sense of your coverage and top up areas that may be unprotected.

“We want you to relax and enjoy your time away. Taking a few moments to go over your policy will give you peace of mind from departure to return.”



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