Going South? Your Insurance Won’t Cover You If You Do This: Don’t Risk Losing Your House!

Many homeowners like to take a trip to the sunny, and hopefully warmer, south in the winter. They lock up well, set timers on lights, and get a neighbour to pick up the flyers and keep the driveway shoveled. If they don’t also do this, though, they risk losing their home insurance coverage leaving their home vulnerable in the case of fire, theft or burst pipes.

You May Need to Turn Off Your Water Supply to Your Home Before Leaving In Winter

Here’s a direct quote from a TD Meloche Monnex insurance policy supplement:

“If you go away for more than seven consecutive days during [the] heating season, it is mandatory to turn off the main water supply or arrange for someone to ensure that the house is adequately heated, to maintain your insurance coverage.”

This person is supposed to ensure that the furnace has not gone off which could cause pipes to freeze and burst and then leak.

Knowing how some insurance companies try to avoid paying out claims, I think you’d better have some type of proof that you’ve turned off the water and/or arranged for someone to come into your home.

And remember that you must be careful if you plan to turn off the water supply for the entire home: Some hot water tanks have special procedures if you are going to turn off the water; Fire prevention and other sprinkler systems may also need to be properly serviced before shut off.

You May Need to Have Someone Enter Your Home to Check the Furnace and Power While You Are Away

Depending on your insurance policy, you may need to have someone actually come inside your home while you are away in winter. They are supposed to check that the furnace is running properly and that the home is well above the freezing point. If not, and the pipes freeze, your insurance company may not pay out to repair the damage.

They are also supposed to check that the electricity is working so that the fridge and freezer are keeping their contents safe.

Check Your Own Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

These are just some of the clauses to watch out for in your policy. There may be other rules regarding valuables left in a home while the owner is away for an extended period. For example, you may need to put jewellery in a safe deposit box at the bank before taking that month-long trip backpacking.

If in doubt, call your agency or your broker and ask what is required before travelling.

Then enjoy your trip!

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Have you ever come back from a relaxing trip to discover a major headache waiting for you? Did your homeowner insurance ever deny your claim? Please share your tips and experiences with a comment.

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