Snowbirds and Home Insurance

What you need to know about leaving your home for the winter
Categories: Personal Insurance
Nov 28th, 2017 | By: Tracy Hackl

If you are like thousands of Canadians and “fly south” to escape our Canadian winters there are a number of things to consider about leaving your residence for weeks or months at a time. One of those items is how your home insurance may be affected.

Coverage under your home insurance will lapse if the home is vacant more than 30 days. But don’t worry—even if you travel for months at a time your home will only be considered “vacant” if you do not intend to return. It’s considered unoccupied when you are away, whether for a day, a month, or several months.

So what is the biggest home insurance concern for Snowbirds? Water. Although each carrier is different, under most insurance policies, if your house is unoccupied for more than four consecutive days during the heating season, your insurance will not cover water damage from the freezing of any part of a plumbing, heating, or air-conditioning system, or an appliance such as a washing machine or dishwasher. Talk to your broker to understand the specifics of your policy.

Many Comprehensive home insurance policies will only cover damage cause by freezing if certain conditions are met:

  • To arrange for a competent person to enter your home every 24 hours while you are away to ensure the heating is being maintained and the property is checked on.
  • Shutting off the water supply and draining all the pipes and domestic water containers. This is a big one; if you only shut off your water and a pipe bursts the resulting damage would not be covered.
  • Plumbing and heating system is connected to a monitored alarm with 24 hour service.

It’s important to note freezing is not covered in any unheated portion of the dwelling.

Over 60% of insurance claims are due to water damage; use the tips above and enjoy your time away with peace of mind.

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