Whether you’re just a few hours a way for several days or on the other side of the world for a few months, the last thing you want to worry about while on vacation from the daily grind is home security. You’ll want to “vacation-proof” your house ahead of time to make sure it’s well taken care of and stays fully protected under your home insurance policy. Reviewing your insurance policy guidelines and arranging for the care of your casa are just as important as planning the perfect beachside getaway or ski vacation.

How many days can your home go unattended?

Even if you have a top-of-the line, high-tech security system installed to protect your home, it’s highly recommended that you have a trusted human check on your house every few days. This might even be a requirement to maintain your home insurance coverage.

Special considerations when you’re vacationing during the winter

All insurance policies vary in terms of the precautions you need to take to keep your home protected to the same extent as if you were at home looking after it. There’s a common insurance policy exclusion for Canadians who leave their homes unoccupied during the winter for more than four days without having someone check the home’s heating to reduce the risk of bursting pipes. If someone doesn’t check your home for frozen pipes or the conditions that cause them, you could be on the hook for a large sum of water damage repairs.

  • If you’re planning a long vacation, consider draining your pipes and shutting off your home’s water supply.
  • Consider purchasing pipe insulation for plumbing near outdoor-facing walls and uninsulated parts of your home, such as the garage.
  • It’s okay to keep your home a few degrees cooler than you’d find comfortably toasty while you’re away, but don’t let the thermostat drop down too much.
  • Keeping your home cool during the summer can also help reduce the risk of your fridge and freezer overheating.
  • Aim to keep your home 4 degrees warmer than normal in the summer and 4 degrees cooler in the winter. If you have a gas furnace, you may be able to drop the temperature by 6 to 8 degrees because gas can be a more efficient way to heat your home.

Of course, having friends, family, neighbours, or even hired housesitters keep an eye on your home will also reduce the risk of fire damage, vandalism and burglary.

Teach someone what to look for when they check on your home.

Some insurance policies will require you to have someone check on your home at least once a week while you’re away; otherwise, your insurance policy could become void while your home is unattended. You’ll want to ask a person you trust to look after your home and give them a list of things to monitor to make sure everything’s secure. Water damage is a major concern for unoccupied homes, so ask your housesitter to check the ceilings and basement for signs of leakage. Close attention should be paid to the temperature in your home and your pipes in the winter because they could be vulnerable to bursting from freezing temperatures.

Deter thieves by making it look like you’re still at home, and take extra measures to protect your most valuable belongings.

This is an obvious but important step to remember to help keep your home secure.

  • Ask someone to park their car in your driveway, or clear the snow off your car.
  • Ask someone to take out your recycling and garbage, and make sure they collect the empty bins off the curb.
  • Set up timers on your lights, or have your housesitter come by at night.
  • Install motion-activated lights outside your home.
  • Put your newspaper service on hold, and ask someone to collect any mail and flyers that land on your front stoop or in your mailbox.
  • Make sure you store any particularly valuable items in your home out of sight, preferably in a safe deposit box. Your contents insurance might replace their financial value but not their sentimental value. Also make sure that your contents insurance is up to date before you head out of town and that you’ve had any rare or valuable items appraised and properly insured.

Settling back in at home after an amazing vacation is hard enough—you definitely don’t want your house to be in poor shape when you’ve been looking forward to seeing it again after a long day of travelling. Establishing a plan to take care of your home and maintain your insurance coverage before you leave is worth the extra effort to avoid any bad news about your home while you’re on the road, at the beach or walking through your door after three weeks away. Checking in with the person you’ve appointed to keep watch over your house regularly while you’re away will give you the peace of mind you’ll need to keep the good times going for your entire holiday.

If you’re looking for a deal on home and automobile insurance, we invite you to get started with an online quote. When you purchase home and automobile insurance through Hudson’s Bay Financial Services and aha insurance, you’ll be eligible to receive 2,500 Hudson’s Bay Rewards points. 1

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1Earn 1,250 Hudson’s Bay Rewards points when you obtain an auto insurance quote, and 750 points for a home insurance quote; earn 500 points when you provide your expiry date; and earn 4,000 points when you renew your combined home and auto insurance policy and use a valid Canadian-issued credit card to pay for your premiums.
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