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Ways to protect your home and car while on vacation

Now that your trip is booked, your bags are packed, and you have lined up a ride to the airport, did you take the necessary precautions to keep your home and car safe while you are away? Before you kick back and relax, take a look at these helpful tips from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) to protect your belongings:

Have someone keep an eye on your home
Ask a trusted family member, friend, or neighbour to stop by your home every few days to collect your mail, inspect for any damage, and check up on your car in the driveway or garage. It is important to note that winter-related claims, like burst pipes, could be denied if no one kept an eye on your home while you were away. Alternatively, you will have coverage if you shut off your water supply and drain everything or your plumbing and heating systems are connected to a monitored alarm station that provides 24-hour service. The person you trust your home with should know how to reach you in an emergency. Giving your neighbours a heads-up that you will be away will trigger them to be more watchful, even if they are doing it subconsciously.

Make it look like you are home
Noticeable differences from how your home usually looks can hint to others that you are away. Consider using smart plugs or timers that automatically turn lights on and off and leave curtains and blinds open as usual while keeping valuables out of sight.

Unplug unnecessary electronics
Unplug all unnecessary electronic devices like TVs, stereos, computers, etc., or plug them into a surge protector to avoid electrical fires or power surges. Also, ensure your smoke alarms are in working order and have a fire extinguisher on hand if a house sitter needs to extinguish a blaze.

Inspect your home before you leave
Take time to tidy up, water your plants, and lock up anything in your yard, like bicycles, gardening tools, and barbecues. It is helpful to trim trees and shrubs so your house is in plain view. You should also take photos or videos of your home’s contents before you head out – it is a simple way to keep a record of your possessions should you need to make an insurance claim.

Remember to lock up
It is a no-brainer to lock all your doors and windows (and set your security system if you have one) before leaving, but don’t neglect to secure other openings, like pet doors or mail slots. If you have an automatic garage door, consider disconnecting the electronic opener and placing a padlock on the garage-door track instead.

Not taking your car? Keep your documents safe
If you are not driving your car, remove your car registration and proof of insurance and store them in a safe spot in your home. Be sure to put the keys away somewhere out of sight. And don’t forget to return those documents to your car once you return.

Keep your vacation plan private
While it is tempting to let the world know you are taking a well-deserved trip, keep in mind that sharing too much information on social media or in emails can alert potential thieves to your absence. It is better only to post travel pictures when you return.

OTIP is here to answer your questions and help you understand your insurance policy. Call us at 1-833-494-0089, and we will assess your situation to ensure you have the coverage you need to protect the things that matter to you most.

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