Home Insurance and You: Extended Winter Holidays

In our last post, we talked condo insurance, and this time, we’re discussing home insurance. With fall in the air, many people heading down south for the winter. We took the opportunity to visit Neesja again to discuss the impact an extended vacation has on your home insurance. Many people want to know what an extended vacation does to their home insurance policy while they’re away. What do you need to do for your coverage to be valid? We have some answers.


Before figuring out what needs to be done, we need to distinguish two important terms in home insurance. The first is the term unoccupied. With home insurance, unoccupied refers to a home that is empty for an extended period of time, and where there is intention to return. In simple terms, that means the occupants have gone on an extended holiday, but they’ll be back. The second term is vacant. Home insurance policies consider vacant as a reference to an empty home where there is no intention to return. For example, a home can be considered vacant when the owner of the house no longer lives there, but the next occupants haven’t moved in yet. These two home insurance terms are important, because your trip south renders your house unoccupied, not vacant. Unoccupied properties have different requirements in your home insurance policy than vacant ones, so it’s a good idea to check your home insurance and make sure you’ve done what’s needed for coverage while you’re away.


What needs to be done while you’re away? Are you covered during the winter? How long can you be gone? Each of these questions have answers that are unique to your policy. The best way to make sure you have the facts is by talking with your insurance broker. Different home insurance policies will have different requirements on things like turning off the heat or shutting off the water. If you haven’t discussed extended vacations with your broker, many insurance providers also offer specific coverage on home insurance for extended holidays, so make sure your policy is up to date.


One of the biggest issues for unoccupied homes is the increased risk of damage or theft. More specifically, damages from things like broken water pipes can go on for several weeks before discovery, increasing your risk of significant damage. Once your policy is up to date and you’ve looked after the details needed to keep your home insurance policy current, you should ensure that someone is checking your property during your time away. This will help to reduce your risk of damage, as well as making sure that your home looks occupied. Some of the things this person should look after are yard maintenance, such as lawn mowing, and collecting your mail. If you receive the newspaper, you can request to be excluded from deliveries for a specified period of time. This will keep things from piling up on your doorstep. If you don’t have anyone close by who can do these things for you, the Comox Valley is home to Valley Home Check, a company that offers regular monitoring for homes that are unoccupied. They offer multiple services, including indoor pet care, and will email you regular reports while you’re away.


When it’s time to head south, make sure you check with your broker about what’s required for your home insurance. In any case, you should make sure that someone stops by your home regularly to make certain your home is in good condition while you’re gone, and to prevent theft. If you’re thinking of calling the Comox Valley home for all of the year, or part of it, we’d love to chat with you! If you’re curious about what your Comox Valley home is worth, give us a call today!