For those homeowners looking to recharge their inner batteries, thaw out and start Googling exotic vacation spots, SGI Canada is reminding them to hold on and double-check their home insurance checklists.
Western Canada’s current cold spell is an example of weather that can take a nasty, damaging toll on one’s home.
“We do see an increase in claims activity when the temperature plummets like this,” said Kurtis Reeder, the company’s senior director of personal lines underwriting.
“Two of the more prevalent claims are water escape due to water freezing in pressurized lines, and then expanding, breaking the pipes, and causing a lot of water damage in the home.
“The second one is due to fire. With the increased use of heating appliances in the cold, there is an increased risk of fire caused by the heating appliances.”
He recommended homeowners check with their insurance brokers as to the conditions their policies have for coverage when they’re away on vacation.
For example, SGI Canada’s policies say that if an owner is away for 10 days or more, they have to have someone check on their home daily, shut off the water supply to the house and drain the pipes or have a home security company monitor temperature decreases, he said.
Otherwise, the policy isn’t valid.
“Every company has similar conditions, but they could be a little bit different,” Reeder said.
Water pipes can freeze and burst if a door or window is left open over a long period, or a home’s furnace shuts down and can’t fire back up, he said.
Even for people planning shorter getaways, Reeder recommended someone checking on the home every day, picking up the mail and turning on different lights inside.
Those are deterrents to potential thefts and break-ins.
He also offered some digital advice: Avoid posting photos and travel updates on social media until the vacation is over.
“Share those pictures and your travel stories when you return and not while you’re on vacation, because it could make yourself a target for theft,” he said.
Reeder said SGI Canada’s website and social media feeds regularly post updated home and travel insurance and online security tips.