More than 400,000 winter visitors migrate from their northern US and Canadian homes to Arizona each year, generally beginning in October.  Whether you are coming or going, there is preparation involved in regards to leaving your home unoccupied for several months.   No one wants to come home, whether it’s summer, winter, or fall to a disaster that could have been prevented by taking the time to create and execute a plan that will help protect your home while you are away. Here are just a few things to consider when leaving your seasonal home for an extended period of time.

Shut Off Main Water Supply

Imagine coming home after being on the road for hours or even days.  You finally arrive at 12:21am.  All you want to do is walk through the door, crawl into your own bed, and drift off to sleep.  Instead, you walk through the door and are stopped in your tracks by an overwhelming, musty scent in the air. Your carpet is filthy and each step you take leads you into a swamp that once used to be your living room.   Shutting down the main water valve before you leave your home can be one of the most crucial things that you can do in order to prevent water damage that can be caused by frozen pipes, a ruptured washer hose, leaking supply lines or a dripping water heater.  In addition to this, we also recommend draining your toilets and turning off your water heater.

Turn Off Breakers

Although a large number of fires that occur are associated with human activity, fires in vacant homes do happen.  Aside from your heating system, security system, or outside lighting,turn off all nonessential electrical circuit breakers in your home’s electrical box.  This can minimize the possibility of electrical fires.  Along with turning off your breakers, unplug all appliances both large and small.

Disconnect the Computer

In today’s world, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes.  If you have personal information stored on your computer, turning it off and disconnecting it from the internet is a must.

Lock Up  

Although this may sound elementary, be sure to lock all of your doors and windows.  If you have a security system, make sure that it is turned on before you leave.  You can also alert the local police department of your departure, leaving them your contact information and requesting that they add your home to their vacation watch list. If you have an interim caretaker, provide their information as well. You may also want to consider inviting a neighbor to park in your driveway during your time away.

Find more information at http://www.amainsure.com/maturedecisions/protectyourinvestment.html.  Taking these few steps can save you time, money and not to mention, a huge headache.  Be confident that your home is safe the moment you pull out of your driveway.  Peace of mind can be key to enjoying your spring, winter, summer or fall!

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Marriage

Are you properly insured after a major life-changing event? Image via cheesy42 on Flickr

Many people don’t realize that different life events can have an impact on their insurance needs as well as their insurance premiums.  You might think that turning 25 will bring your auto insurance down or realize that getting married means you need to combine your coverage into a single policy, but there are many other ways that major life events can impact your insurance.   A survey conducted by Trusted Choice and reported in Insurance Journal found that more than 30 million U.S. households have insurance policies and/or coverage that don’t fit their current needs.

Here are 3 of the major life events that can change what kind of insurance you need, how much insurance you need, or how much your insurance costs.

1.     Getting Married

When you tie the knot, your insurance needs and costs can change in a couple different areas.  First, your car insurance rates may go down because you are married and combining policies may qualify you for a multi-car discount.  If you are purchasing a house, you will need a new homeowner’s policy.  If you are moving in together but renting, you will want to combine your renter’s insurance and make sure the coverage limits of the policy are enough to replace both of your possessions.  Regardless of whether you are a renter or a homeowner, you may want to make sure your property replacement coverage will cover your wedding rings.  Finally, now that you are married, your life insurance needs may be drastically different and should be reviewed.  Even if you have enough insurance, you will likely need to make beneficiary changes at a minimum.  Talk to your insurance agent to make sure the coverage you have is the coverage you need and that you aren’t paying more for it than you should be.

2.     Getting Divorced or Becoming Widowed

A change in marital status can mean that you need to make changes to your insurance coverage.  Going from two cars to one, moving to a smaller house, selling valuables, and splitting assets can all result in the need for less coverage and lower limits.  This can be a big cost savings for you that you may not think of during such a difficult time.  You will also want to change any beneficiaries on life insurance or other policy payouts.

3.     Having Children

Becoming a parent for the first time or the last time is a big change and it can mean you need to make changes to your insurance coverage.  According to a life insurance fact sheet put out by LIMRA, almost 70% of U.S. Households with children under 18 would be in jeopardy and destabilized financially if the primary bread winner died.    If you have added a new family member by birth or adoption, it is a good idea to sit down with your insurance agent and make sure you have enough life insurance coverage to meet the needs of your family and that beneficiaries are designated properly.  You may also want to review your auto and home insurance policies to ensure that coverage limits are adequate for your larger family.

While these are 3 of the major life events that can affect your insurance costs and needs, there are several other events that should trigger a review of your policies with your agent.  If you have a new teenage driver, buy a vacation home, have a significant change in income, buy or inherit valuable property, or as you get ready to retire, sitting down with your agent can make sure you and the ones you love are protected.
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