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Protecting your "other" home

home snow on roofSharing time between two homes, whether two seasonal homes or a primary home and vacation home, can mean a new look at home maintenance and a closer look at your homeowners insurance policy.

Each year when seasons change from summer to winter or vice versa, our thoughts turn to vacation.  For many, this means a week or two in a different location; but for an increasing number of us who share time between two homes, it may mean closing our primary residence and opening another in a more suitable climate.

Both homes need certain on-going protection, both in terms of preventive maintenance and insurance coverage.  If done properly, you will maximize your investment.

 

Preventive Maintenance When Closing Your Home

When you are away for a lengthy time, your home can be vulnerable to water damage from a ruptured pipe or leaking water heater, or to moisture damage from high temperatures and humidity.  High winds and other extreme weather conditions can also take their toll causing damage to your home’s structure.  Even vandalism and burglary can occur in your absence. 

 Of course, there are steps you can take before you close your home that will minimize the risk of damage while you’re away. Take a look at the following tips to get started. 

Plan for Extreme Weather

If high winds or severe storms are a possibility, consider installing storm windows, and carefully secure all skylights and vents as well as doors and windows. Check your trees and shrubs for dead limbs, and remove outdoor furniture since these items become projectiles during high winds.

Prevent Internal Water Damage

Shut off the water supply at the water meter if possible; but bear in mind that, if you  have a fire protection sprinkler system or a boiler for hot water heat, both require an on-going water source to function.

If you must leave the water on, you can still turn off the flow to the washing machine, toilets, sinks and other individual fixtures to prevent water damage from leaking or ruptured hoses.

Protect Against Burglary or Vandalism

Before you close your home, discontinue all deliveries and arrange to have your mail forwarded.  You might also alert the local police department that your home is empty and  let them know when you plan to return and how to reach you.  Of course, you will want to put certain inside and outside lights on timers.  In fact, a monitored security system helps to protect your home and could provide an insurance discount.

Lastly, don’t forget to arrange for outside maintenance – lawn-moving and/or snow-removal.  All these measures give the appearance that someone is home – a real deterrent to burglars and vandals.

Will Your Homeowners Insurance Suffice?

When both your seasonal residences are in the same state, the secondary residence might be added as an endorsement to your existing primary homeowners insurance policy.  If both homes have mortgages, then the respective lenders might each require a homeowners policy on their property.  Depending upon your home sharing arrangement, your insurance policy could include certain additional stipulations because the home is empty part of the year.

If you are getting ready to buy a second home, be sure to review your insurance policy before closing the deal.  Depending on where it is located and how it is used, that second home could trigger some exclusions or unexpected stipulations. 

When your second home is not in use, it should still be covered for possible damage to the structure and your furnishings and personal belongings as well as your liability in case someone is injured on your property in your absence. 

The environment of your homes is likely to be different.  So protection from perils such as earthquake, hurricane, tornado, lightening, explosion, sewer backup, smoke and even theft might be more of a threat for one home than for the other.  This could require additional coverages and endorsements. Moreover, a separate policy for flood insurance might be needed for one or both homes. 

To be sure that you have sufficient coverage on both your properties and that you do not have unnecessary duplications, it is always best to sit down with a trusted insurance agent who is aware of your needs and knows the guidelines.

We here at Community Insurance Services Agency have been helping residents of Maryland (MD), Virginia (VA), and Washington DC with their homeowners and condo insurance needs for many years; and we would be glad to assist you, too.  Please contact us for a free no-obligation assessment of your current homeowner or condo policy.  This is the first step to complete protection of both your homes. 

 

Thursday, 27 May 2010 22:02

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