Whether you live alone or with your family, you should never leave your home unattended for extended periods of time, and not for the reasons you are probably thinking of.
A couple of years ago, 2 days into my vacation in Grenada, I received a panicked phone call from my father who was checking in on my cats while I was away.
It sounded as though he was in the shower and I could barely make out what he was saying.
I jokingly asked him if he was calling me from the shower and the words he spoke just made my stomach sink, “No I’m not in the shower! I’m in your basement!! There is water spraying all over the place and it’s flowing out of your window! What do I do?”
I immediately wanted to cry. I felt so hopeless. My first home that I so proudly purchased just the year before was under water! And flowing out of my windows??? How much water was in there?? Fortunately I was able to gather my thoughts and tell him where he could find my plumber’s business card and my home insurance card. I keep these on my fridge for easy access in case of an emergency such as this.
I later found out that there was only 2 feet of water in the basement (pfewf!) and it was flowing out of the window because a pipe near a window broke and that force of the water flowing out of the broken pipe was so powerful that it broke my basement window and hence why the water was flowing out of it.
Fortunately, my father was able to contact all of the right people and the insurance company brought in a site restoration company and removed all of the water by the time I returned home from vacation. What a miracle! And my house was still standing?!? Although this was somewhat of a relief, it still completely ruined the rest of my holiday.
It turns out it was a good thing that my window did break because according to my hydro bill, I went through 95,000L of water that month. That’s 2 average sized swimming pools of water! Fortunately, most of that water flowed OUT of the house!
So you’re probably reading this thinking this damage is the point of my story. Nope!
When I returned home, the insurance adjuster interviewed me. She asked me very specific questions regarding the sequence of events which I only had to state second hand since I was not home. For instance:
“What time did you leave the house exactly to go to the airport?”
“Was there anyone still at the house after you departed?”
“What date and time did your father call you to inform you the house was flooded? Do you have record of this on your cell phone?”
Unbeknownst to me, she was trying to ascertain if my house had been unattended for longer than 48 hours (precisely!).
Why would she care about this? Because it is a little known fact that most insurance companies have a clause in their policy requiring that the insured property not be vacant for longer than 48 hours otherwise whatever damages occur beyond that time frame may not be covered.
So if you are away and you don’t have anyone checking in on your house every 48 hours or less, if anything happens (flood, fire, burglary etc.), you may not be covered by your insurance company.
I was never aware of this until a friend of mine brought it to my attention, so I checked my policy and low and behold, there it was in my policy!!!!!
Fortunately, in my case, my cat’s can’t go longer than 2 days without being checked in on so I was OK!
So the next time you travel for business or pleasure, if your home will be vacant, make sure it isn’t so for more than 48 hours. And for your own peace of mind, read that small print in your insurance policy.