WORCESTER, Mass., Feb. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A cold, snowy winter and an improving economy provide "the perfect storm" for families to make plans for an early 2014 vacation. Cities from Detroit and Philadelphia to Chicago and Atlanta have recorded record cold, ice and snowfalls. But before you pack your bags to head for the ski slopes or the tropics, it's important to take care of things at home.
"We spend so much time before vacation planning for the trip itself, sometimes we forget about things at home," said Mitchell H. Jawitz, vice president, personal lines, The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. (NYSE: THG). "Preparation is critical, particularly in the winter, with extended darkness and unpredictable weather."
Winter vacation home security and safety measures should include making arrangements for someone to clear your driveway and walkways in the event of snow. "Leaving snow untouched for days is like putting out a sign that says 'We're Not Home,'" Jawitz said. "Even if it doesn't snow, with darkness by 6 p.m., an unlit home looks unoccupied unless you have lights on timers. Ideally, outdoor lights should also be on timers or be light sensitive and include motion detectors which can deter unwanted guests."
The cold temperatures are also an important consideration when turning down the indoor thermostat to conserve energy while you are away. While guidelines vary, a safe recommendation is 60 degrees F to conserve energy while providing a comfortable margin to avoid frozen pipes. When you return home, your furnace won't be overtaxed to reheat the living space.
Don't take it for granted that windows are locked just because they are not open in the winter. Approximately 30 percent of all burglaries are through open or unlocked windows or doors, according to the FBI, and windows are left unlocked at a much higher rate than doors. Interestingly, renters are just as likely to be the victims of property crime as homeowners.
Additional tasks to keep top-of-mind before getting caught in the rush to get away include:
- Suspend newspaper and mail delivery.
- Notify a neighbor that you'll be away and leave a key with someone you trust.
- Purge the refrigerator of perishables, run the disposal and take out the trash.
"These tasks take a little time and planning," Jawitz said. "But, they can save you a great deal of trouble." Through a select group of independent agents, The Hanover offers VacationSafe™, a service for its Platinum Experience customers that sends home preparation reminders before a vacation.
Pre-vacation is also a great time to complete important home organization and maintenance tasks. The Hanover recommends you:
- Run a computer back-up so you know everything is saved safely. Then, turn your computer off to avoid "phantom power use."
- Address nagging maintenance issues, such as leaks and drafts, so they don't become problems while you're gone.
- Conduct a home inventory using an online service or smart phone app to easily capture pictures, video and information. The stored data could be a life saver if you need to file a claim following a loss due to damage or burglary.
Taking time to get your house or apartment ready before your winter getaway can make your return home as stress free as your vacation. Your local independent insurance agent can help you assess your risks and be sure you have the right insurance protection in place. To find an independent agent near you and learn more about the Hanover Platinum Experience, visit www.hanover.com.
ABOUT THE HANOVER
The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc., based in Worcester, Mass., is one of the top 25 property and casualty insurers in the United States. For more than 160 years, The Hanover has provided a wide range of property and casualty products and services to businesses, individuals, and families. The Hanover distributes its products through a select group of agents and brokers. Through its international member company, Chaucer, The Hanover also underwrites business at Lloyd's of London in several major insurance and reinsurance classes including political risk, marine, aviation and energy. For more information, please visit hanover.com.
The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries ("The Hanover") specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with The Hanover. By providing this information to you, The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.
SOURCE The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc.