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Vacation Season is Open Season for Burglars

Author: Nancy Germond

Americans not only love to travel, many have second homes where they live for extended periods. However, vacation time provides prime opportunties for burglars, who may target retirement havens or homes that appear unoccupied.

Here are a few tips you can share with your insureds to help prevent a break-in.

Let a trusted neighbor know how to get in touch

When I was a risk manager for a public entity, I received a call one Sunday night on a sewer backup. “It's a big one," the public works director warned me, so I drove to the location. A lightning strike earlier that day had hit a sewer lift station. The problem? The newly built home had no sewer backflow preventer installed, and the entire area's lift station had malfunctioned and dumped its massive load into the home. The neighbors knew the owners were out of state at their daughter's wedding, but had no phone number to reach them. We made the decision to hire a locksmith and enter the home to remove everything we could salvage. However, if the homeowner had provided a neighbor with a phone number before their trip, we'd have been on much safer legal grounds.

If your homeowner has an alarm, he or she can usually set specific codes so the homeowner knows who entered the home. A trusted neighbor can be a lifesaver if the a water leak or burglary occurs. That neighbor may also be willing to pick up newspapers or flyers left in the homeowner's absence. Keeping the home maintained helps prevent the appearance of an unoccupied home.

Recommend putting lights on timers

Because many burglaries occur at night, lighting the home's exterior and putting interior lights on timers can help deter a break-in. Driveways, security lights that come on when someone approaches the property, and interior lighting set to come on at dusk are all great ways to prevent crime.

Remind clients to stay on the “down low" on social media

Never alert the media, and by this, I mean social media. It's always tempting to post those lovely vacation photos or to check in at the airport citing a great destination. However, if no one is watching the home, that can be an open invitation for a break-in. Remind your clients that while it's great to post pictures, it may be safer to post upon their return home. If they do decide to post, they might refer glowingly to their (imaginary?) housesitter so it's clear someone is caretaking their home.

Protect the family jewels

Recommend your clients remove expensive jewelry or other valuables in their homes. A few days before they leave, suggest they go through their home to collect valuables like jewelry, guns, even credit cards they may leave behind, and secure them in their bank's safety deposit box.

It's also a great time to remind your insureds about the benefits of scheduling valuable items like jewelry and cameras. Remind them to check any special limits on their homeowners policies for firearms, jewelry, cash and other personal property. Avoid listing special limits because homeowners and dwelling policies can provide various personal property limits.

This article is an opportunity to invite your insureds to call you to discuss questions they have on their homeowners or dwelling poliicies. You can review their limits, using these conversations as an opportunity to cross-sell or improve coverage.

Protect computers with a strong password

Many of us now travel with our laptops, which contain a great deal of personal identifying information. Your clients' home computers are also a hot commodity for today's burglars. Your clients should use a hard-to-break password to protect all their computers, whether laptop or desktop, travel or home-based.

Vacations should be a stress-free time

Vacations and long summer visits should be stress free. No one wants a call from the police department, or to return home to a house that's been vandalized. Summer is a great time to remind your clients that installing a home alarm system can provide a credit on their homeowner's policy. Burglar alarms are no longer “nice-to-have" accessories, they're becoming a necessity for peace of mind for many of today's homeowners.

While there's no guarantee that homeowners can avoid a burglary, these tips can help your clients feel more secure when they travel or temporarily relocate to cooler climates.

First published: May 20, 2022​

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Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556
email: info@iiaba.net

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