How to prepare homes for vacancy this summer

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How to prepare homes for vacancy this summer

Half of U.S. adults said they are likely to take a vacation this summer, according to a study by The Points Guy and Healthline Media.

After a summer under lockdown in 2020 that caused widespread travel cancellations, many Americans are eager to embark on a trip this summer.

According to a recent study by The Points Guy and Healthline Media, 50% of U.S. adults said they are likely to take at least one vacation from June to September 2021. “Some Americans may not have had a summer vacation since 2019, and so there’s clearly a lot of pent-up demand,” said Melanie Lieberman, senior travel editor at The Points Guy, in a statement.

This surge in vacations will result in more homes to be vacant this summer. Moreover, as the economy moves into a post-COVID era, homes also will be left unoccupied for several hours most days as adults return to the office and children resume typical summer activities, such as camp.

To help clients prepare for home vacancy this season, Jennifer Wilbert, assistant vice president of personal insurance property at Travelers, offers the following five tips for homeowners:

1. It’s all about maintenance. Before departing on a trip, it’s crucial that homeowners complete a routine maintenance check on their house. Here is a simple checklist to follow:

  • Get the roof inspected, clean gutters, and check downspouts to be sure water moves away from the home.
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances to reduce energy cost and fire risk.
  • Check smoke detectors and batteries.
  • Set the thermostat to an “away” setting to save energy.
  • Remove dead trees or overhanging limbs from the property.
  • Ask a friend, neighbor or relative if they are available for emergency situations and to monitor the home for any damage.

2. Check water pipes. Twenty-three percent of homeowners insurance claims result from water damage unrelated to weather events, such as leaking pipes, according to Travelers data. Homeowners should schedule an inspection with a plumber to make sure that there are no risk factors for pipes. Consider shutting off the main water valve or asking a neighbor to check to make sure leaks don’t go unnoticed for an extended time.

There also are many smart home solutions that can help detect and alert homeowners of leaks. Water sensors and low-temperature sensors are affordable safeguards to monitor for moisture, and smart shut-off valves automatically turn off the water if a leak is detected. Some insurance providers offer discounts when these types of devices are installed, so homeowners can save on their policies and secure their homes at the same time.

3. Do a deep clean. It’s a nice perk to walk into a clean home after a long trip, but doing a deep clean before going on vacation can also prevent things from going awry, like a bug or rodent infestation. Be sure to mop and vacuum the floors, scrub the toilets and sinks, and dispose of any perishables that could go bad.

4. Fend off burglars. Making it look like someone is home can help thwart thieves from a break-in and offer homeowners peace of mind. Program any smart electronics, like a TV or radio, to come on at a certain time to show activity. Arrange to have mail and package deliveries forwarded, hire someone to mow the lawn, and set up motion-sensitive exterior lights or internal lights on timers.

In case someone does break in, confirm that alarm systems are working and activated upon leaving, store valuables in a safe deposit box or secure location outside the home, and secure external doors and windows with deadbolt locks.

5. Consult an insurance agent. Even with thorough preparation, things can still go wrong while away, so homeowners should make sure their insurance policy has them covered should an emergency pop up during their trip. Encourage clients to check in with their insurance agent to ensure their policies includes home vacancy as well as for any savings that they may be able to take advantage of due to the use of smart, preventative measures.

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