It’s been a long and cold winter in Calgary — perfect for escaping. Every year more than 500,000 Canadians make their way to warmer climes, heading to places like California, Arizona, Florida, and Mexico. Since we can currently stay in the U.S. and Mexico for six months (and may soon be able to stay in the U.S. up to eight months if a bi-partisan bill currently in Congress passes), that means there are a lot of homes left empty for long periods of time throughout the country.
But long-term travellers don’t necessarily have to be snowbirds, either (which are generally thought of as over 55 years of age and owners of property outside of their home country). There are lots of people who leave Calgary to traverse the globe for the adventure of a lifetime, or take their motorhome or RV for an extended drive across the Americas. Canadians are prepared and knowledgeable travellers, but the one thing we tend to forget when we leave is our home insurance coverage. Spend your time away without a care in the world by taking care of these details before departure.
Avoid a Home Insurance Claim When You’re Not There
Your home insurance coverage will become completely null and void if your home is vacant for more than 30 days. But keep in mind that a home is only considered “vacant” if the owner is not returning. When you’re away for a weeks-long vacation or to spend several months in your second home, if you’re coming back your home is then considered “unoccupied.”
Many may think their biggest enemy when away is a burglar, but considering over 60 per cent of home insurance claims come from water damage, it’s actually the wet stuff you have to worry most about most. Depending on your insurance company, certain coverages can become invalid after a home is unoccupied for a certain amount of days (usually about four to seven). Most commonly, this is your coverage for water damage.
Check with your insurance broker to be positive about your coverage. In very general terms, if you ensure the following three tasks are carried out your water damage coverage will remain valid.
1. It is highly advisable to turn off the main water valve to your home and run the taps until dry before leaving. Also flush all of your toilets to drain the tanks. Water pipes commonly freeze during the winter, and could burst while you are away if you don’t. And water damage gets worse over time. The longer things stay wet, the more problems you will have.
2. Enlist some help. You will need to have someone physically check your property at least one to two times per week for the duration of your absence. Make sure that person knows how to contact you as well as your insurance company in the event of an emergency.
3. Monitor your home remotely. With a temperature and moisture monitors, you can receive instant alerts if your home heating system stops working or your plumbing back ups during your absence. Experts also stress the importance of temperature monitors for water heaters, as an unaddressed water heater malfunction can cause major damage.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
You should never leave Alberta without medical travel insurance. Your provincial health insurance plan will only offer very limited protection once you’re away, and you don’t want to leave yourself vulnerable to the massive expenses you can quickly rack up if you need treatment while you’re away from home. Long-term travel insurance is available from many providers, and optional endorsements may cover:
- Emergency medical expenses. If you need to see a doctor, go to an emergency room or spend any time in the hospital during your trip, travel insurance will provide you with coverage up to your stated limit.
- Trip cancellations. If last-minute complications force you to change your plans and you didn’t opt in to the airline or travel company’s refund program, travel insurance can reimburse you for your costs.
- Lost baggage and damage to personal items. While airlines and other transportation providers usually offer financial assistance in the event of lost baggage or damaged personal items, it is usually very limited and far less than your actual costs. Travel insurance is there to bridge the gap.
- Rental car damage waivers. Finally, travel insurance can be configured to protect you from liability for damages to any rental vehicles you may use during your trip.
Trust Lane’s for All of Your Alberta Home Insurance Needs
At Lane’s, you will be partnered with a home insurance specialist who will be your personal contact for all things insurance. Even though we may not be your provider, we are always your source for good information, and no obligation quotes.