Is Your Home Alone For The Winter?

By Insurance.com Posted : 03/08/2007
Winter weather can wreak havoc on a home--especially if you're not there to look after it. And a vacant house can be an open invitation to burglars. Before you leave your home alone, take precautions to make sure your home makes it safely through the winter.

Take a look at your homeowners insurance

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  • Check your policy to make sure you're covered even if the house is going to be unoccupied for an extended period.
  • Conduct a home inventory (including photographs or video of important items) and take it with you. If an item in your home is damaged, destroyed, or stolen while you're away, you'll be able to support an insurance claim.
  • Make sure your valuables are adequately insured. You may want to purchase a rider to increase coverage on collectibles, jewelry, antiques, or other expensive items.
  • Talk to your insurance agent if you have any questions about your coverage.

Winterize your home

  • Clean gutters--remove leaves and other debris from gutters to allow melted snow and ice to properly flow away from the house and prevent ice dams from forming
  • Trim trees and branches--inclement weather can cause overgrown trees and dead branches to break, resulting in property damage and/or injury
  • Maintain pipes--make sure exposed pipes in basements and garages are properly insulated; check for cracks and leaks; consider having your water system drained by a professional
  • Drain exterior faucets and remove garden hoses (you can turn off the water supply by using the shutoff valve)
  • Set the thermostat in your house to at least 50 degrees--anything lower won't prevent your pipes from freezing
  • Prevent cold air from seeping into your home--replace cracked or peeled caulking on windows and apply weather stripping to doors
  • Have your heating system inspected--check the furnace to make sure the filter does not need to be replaced, the thermostat is working, and so on; make sure your chimney is free from debris (e.g., leaves)
  • Repair broken stairs and railings--even if you're not home, mail carriers, utility employees, and delivery persons may need to come onto your property
  • Add extra insulation to prevent heat from escaping and pipes from freezing, and pay special attention to attics and basements
  • Ask a neighbor or friend to stop by periodically to check for potential weather-related problems--the earlier a problem is detected, the easier it usually is to fix
    Safeguard your home against burglars
  • Give the appearance that your house is occupied--use timers for indoor and outdoor lights; have mail forwarded and postpone newspaper and magazine delivery, or ask a neighbor or friend to take in your mail; arrange to have someone shovel your driveway/walkway when it snows
  • Store valuables (e.g., electronics, antiques) out of view
  • Secure all doors and windows with locks; consider installing a security system with motion sensors and glass-breakage detectors with a local service provider that will follow up if the alarm goes off

Safeguard your home against burglars

  • Give the appearance that your house is occupied--use timers for indoor and outdoor lights; have mail forwarded and postpone newspaper and magazine delivery, or ask a neighbor or friend to take in your mail; arrange to have someone shovel your driveway/walkway when it snows
  • Store valuables (e.g., electronics, antiques) out of view
  • Secure all doors and windows with locks; consider installing a security system with motion sensors and glass-breakage detectors with a local service provider that will follow up if the alarm goes off

Please note that this description/explanation is intended only as a guideline.

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