Summer is coming and for some of you, it means taking occupancy of a vacation property. You’re headed for a time of relaxation and easy breezy days on the waterfront, mountain, prairie, or metropolitan oasis. The complicated part, involves the days, weeks, and months when you are not residing in the home. During these spells, there are a number of concerns that can arise. Park Insurance doesn’t want you to fret over such things. We know that your summer home should only incite feelings of serenity. Therefore, we are here to offer some easy-to-follow advice that will accomplish just that. Let’s get to it!
5 Tips for Keeping Your Summer Vacation Property Safe (including Insurance and Liability Concerns)
1. Protect Your Summer Home During the Vacation Rental Phase
Most summer homeowners put their home up for rent on a homestay/home-sharing service such as Airbnb or VRBO. It’s a great way to pay off the mortgage and see a return on your investment during the bookend months when you’re not residing on the property. And while it can be lucrative, it puts your summer home at risk. Thankfully, preventative measures can be taken.
Priority measures include fire and water damage preparedness. Follow these tips to protect your property from water damage, and these tips to preventing household fires. In addition, you cannot expect temporary renters to exercise the same caution that you do when it comes to break-ins, so be sure to take note of item #2 below. View this complete guide to keeping a vacation rental safe while occupied by those using a homestay/home-sharing service.
2. Follow Anti-Break-In Best Practices
For most, this is summer home safety concern number one. For most of the year, you’re not there to keep an eye on your property. You need to crime-proof your home, inside and out.
On the outside, choose solid doors and invest in strong locks at all points of entry. Consider security bars on windows. If that doesn’t sound aesthetically appealing, security window shutters can work (and look) great. Install an automated exterior lighting system so that the property is well lit at night. In addition, trim all trees and bushes so that the home is highly visible and thus less attractive to potential burglars.
On the inside, install interior lighting systems that can be both automated and controlled remotely. Keep valuables (home entertainment systems, etc.) out of plain view from windows. Lastly, install a security system that not only triggers a response from a local security service (and police) but one that allows you to monitor the property from the comforts of your normal residence. View this complete guide to crime-proofing your home for a more in-depth look at these measures.
3. Know Thy Neighbor
You may only be a temporary resident wherever your summer home is located, but you should make every effort to become a part of that community. This community serves as an unofficial (and sometimes official) neighborhood watch.
For starters, get to know your neighbors. If you recently purchased a summer home, be the one to pop by for an introduction. Come bearing gifts (gift basket, etc.) to make a positive first impression and invite them over at least once during your stay for a BBQ or evening drinks on the patio. Attend community events, including town hall meetings (where applicable) and integrate yourself in the same manner that you do in your full-time neighborhood. Exchange contact information and stay in touch with those you have formed a bond with. Simply connecting on Facebook will allow you to keep in casual contact when appropriate.
By forming this bond, your summer community will look out for your home. They will take note of any suspicious activity on your property and alert you (and the authorities) accordingly.
4. Maintain the Property for All-Season Liability Protection
This list is not just about keeping your summer home safe. It’s about keeping anyone who visits or passes by your vacation property safe. If they injure themselves on your property, you may be liable. If you are not there to weigh in on the occurrence that caused them to file a claim, you lose one key witness – you. Therefore, you must show that you have exhibited every caution when it comes to your vacation property, during each and every season.
In the autumn and winter (in cold climates), you must be sure to maintain the property to prevent slip and falls and other snow and ice concerns. Follow these tips to household winter preparedness. In the early spring, snowmelt may put people at risk, and thus you must take the necessary precautions. This may involve hiring someone to maintain the property through all seasons. While you take on a small expense in doing so, it pales in comparison to the potential high costs of a liability claim.
5. Consult with an Independent Broker Who Specializes in Homeowners Insurance
Last but not least is the one item that will ensure you have complete peace of mind. Talk to an independent insurance broker who specializes in homeowner’s insurance including seasonal properties. They know which questions to ask you to ensure that your policy covers every variable and contingency that can occur both while you are on and off your property, no matter the season. Contact Park Insurance today to turn the key towards successful summer home ownership.