So you are headed south for the winter! Firstly, we are all jealous that we can’t join you and secondly, can we join you next time? Just kidding!
Now that the cooler weather is upon us, you must be thinking about what you need to pack and when you are going to leave. Now is also the time to start thinking about what precautions you need to take with your home, property and vehicles to protect them while you’re gone.
What’s required of you by your insurance policy – Property
It makes sense – your insurance company wants to make sure that you have taken the necessary steps to protect your property from harm while you are temporarily away. A home that is not being lived in during the winter months has a higher chance of flooding from burst pipes, vandalism and theft.
There are two very different circumstances that your insurance company takes into account with homes that are currently empty but covered under an insurance policy:
- Unoccupied – all persons who live, lived, or will live in the dwelling are absent for a period of time
- Vacant – regardless of the presence of any personal property, all persons who normally live in the dwelling have moved out with no plan to return to live in the dwelling and no new occupant is living in the dwelling
According to your property insurance, if you are away from your home for more than 4 consecutive days during the “home-heating” season, it is considered unoccupied and you are required to:
- Drain all pipes and water systems
- Ensure your heating system is set up to run automatically and you have a competent adult check your dwelling every 3 days (this detail is subject to your specific insurance policy
If your residence is vacant and an insured loss occurs, most insurance companies will not cover the dwelling from the day that it became vacant or after 30 consecutive days. If your dwelling does become vacant, you will need to tell your insurance broker right away so that we can ensure there is still adequate coverage and you are protected.
Important information about your vehicle
Thinking about whether you should take your car with you while you take cover from the cold or leave it here for when you get back? There are some very big differences in your coverage depending on what you choose to do!
Leaving the car at home
Leaving your car here for the season can make a lot of sense – you’re flying to your destination and can’t bring it, you can walk everywhere at your destination and don’t need it or you can rent a car for when you need it. Here are a few of your options:
- If you leave your car at home and your broker suspends coverage for it, we will add an OPCF 16 – Suspension of Coverage, to your policy. Be aware that you will not have insurance coverage under your own policy if you rent a car while in the States. If you do rent, you will need to purchase the insurance offered by the rental company to be covered
- If you leave your car at home and you are intending to rent a car while you are away, you will need to leave the insurance on your vehicle and your insurance broker will add a coverage called OPCF 27 – Liability for Non-Owned Autos. This extends the coverage from your insurance policy to your rental vehicle.
Taking the car with you
- If you are taking your car with you, your insurance policy will apply wherever you are driving in the United States. We would recommend that your liability limits be increased (or confirmed) to $2 Million. Third Party Liability Coverage provides protection to you if you are involved in an accident where you are deemed legally liable. It can cover damages to another person for injury or death as well as for damage to another person's vehicle or property.