Sunset on Cape Cod Bay

Peace of Mind While on Vacation

March 26, 2013

4 Important Things to Think About Before You Leave For Vacation

Going on vacation is a rite of passage for most Americans, whether it’s a weekend get-a-way, a weeklong trip to the beach or a longer vacation. And preparing for that vacation is an integral part of the ritual. Before you leave, you check the gas and oil in your car, confirm passports are up-to-date, let credit card companies know you are traveling, stash cash for when cards are not accepted, pack luggage, and arrange for someone to care of your pets while you are gone. Here are four other preparations to think about before you leave on vacation:

Stem the tide

Water damage while homeowners are away is a common claim submitted to an insurance company. Whether your washing machine hose leaks, the toilet leaks, the dishwasher leaks or a pipe bursts, all can lead to major water damage and disruption to your regular life upon return. To avoid water damage while you’re away, follow these three steps for peace of mind.

  1. Make sure no one needs to use the bathroom, shower or faucet.
  2. Turn off the water in your basement; check where the water comes into your home. (This will stop the constant water pressure at the sink, washing machine, shower, dishwasher and toilet.)
  3. Turn on your faucets to drain the water in the pipes, and then turn them off.
  4. If you are unsure, consult your plumber or have someone look after your home while you are away.

Now, you can pull out of your driveway for vacation with peace of mind. If a pipe bursts or you have a water leak, there will be minimal damage to your home, maybe one-to-two gallons, instead of potentially hundreds of gallons.

You packed the car, turned off the water and left your house. You arrived at your destination. No more worries, right? That depends if you did your homework.

Bike with backup

A biking accident is another common accident that occurs while on vacation. If you are hit by a car (while riding a rented bike or your own), who pays for the damages? It’s a terrible thought, but more common than you think, especially with so many families enjoying bike outings while on vacation.

If the car that hit you has insurance, their policy will respond first. If the car that hit you doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance, your personal auto policy will respond, as long as you have one.

When biking, you’re considered a pedestrian, and you are covered by your own auto policy. Before you leave for vacation, make sure you have high-liability limits and good coverage. You never know when you may need it.

Drink safely

You rent the same property every year and have made friends in the area. You decide to have a BBQ at your rented house: beer, wine and margaritas are available. What happens if someone is hurt while on the property while drinking alcohol? It may sound uncommon, but it happens more than you think.

Before you leave for vacation, check your homeowner policy for “Host Liquor Liability” coverage. There are a few Homeowner Policy editions. The good news is these editions can provide coverage while on your premises. The bad news is the newer Homeowners Edition HO 2000 excludes coverage if anyone is injured when they “drive away”.

This applies if you’re having a party at your own house and alcohol is available to your guests.

Remember: Business functions are typically excluded or have limited coverage on your personal homeowner’s policy

Protect Personal Possessions

You are comfortable in your rental property; you lock up every night before bed and during the day when you’re out exploring. But what happens if the house you’re renting is robbed? How does the insurance company respond?

  1. The “landlord” or person you are renting the property from uses his/her policy for the coverage of their belongings: grill, TV, DVD player and other items that permanently stay in the house.
  2. Your belongings are covered under your homeowner policy; you have worldwide coverage on your things.

Remember: It is subject to your deductible, so check it before you leave.

Overall, there are many things to think about when planning a vacation. Remember these items.

Before you leave for vacation:

  1. Turn off the water to your house before leaving to avoid water damage.
  2. Check your auto policy’s liability limits, especially if you’ll be walking, running or biking on vacation.
  3. Check your homeowner policy for host liquor liability, especially if you think there will be a get-together or two and alcohol is involved.
  4. Refer to your homeowner’s policy to see what your deductible is in case your personal belongings are stolen.

When in doubt, call your local insurance agent if you have questions pertaining to your home, auto or umbrella policies.