Attention Snowbirds! Are you Ready to Flee the Nest?!

Warning: If you don’t like bird puns, don’t read this blog.

Are you one of the thousands of people who flee the nest each winter and move south? Do you know what steps to take in order for your home not to be considered vacant? Keep reading for a bird’s eye view of the actions you should take before takeoff!

Standard language in a homeowner’s policy states that they consider the home “vacant” after either 30 days or 60 days, depending upon your policy. What is considered “vacant” is unfortunately not defined in the policy. It is often left up to the courts to decide.

For example, one of our carriers, Auto-Owners, changed their vacancy clause from 30 to 60 days. Additionally, they don’t consider a home vacant as long as the heat is continuously maintained and someone is visiting the house frequently to take care of the exterior (plowing/shoveling/mowing). As long as these tasks are taken care of, Auto-Owners deems the home is not vacant and there is no change to the insurance policy. A little birdie told us that it is recommended to have someone inspect your home no less than 1 time every 7-10 days and anytime immediately following adverse weather (heavy rain, heavy snow, high winds). Carriers can all be different so you need to know what your policy excludes and requires.

If your home is vandalized, or your plumbing, heating, air conditioning, automatic sprinkler system or appliances leak and cause your pipes to freeze, you may not have coverage unless you complied with your insurance company’s vacancy or unoccupied residence requirements. Unless you enjoy throwing money down the TAILet (yes this is on purpose), TAKE CARE OF YOUR HOME!

Take note – Have you been tweeting about VRBO lately? Thinking about making some extra money while you’re away and renting out your home for short-term stays? Many insurance companies specifically exclude coverage if you participate in vacation rental offerings, so be careful! Some offer coverage in these circumstances for limited rental days (such as less than 30 days in a calendar year). If this sounds like something you want to do or have done, make sure you talk with your insurance agent first (that would be us).

Before you flit away for the sunshine and warmth, make sure to review your home insurance coverage so you know what is expected of you to not void your coverage.

Until I find another topic to blog about,