Gotcha in with my Cool Runnings movie knowledge didn’t I? I knew it.
Can you feel it in the air? Wait… let me back up here, we live in Arizona, and there is no air.
Not sure what I am referring to? Well of course I am referring to the 115 degree thrust of air that hits your face as you exit any building in the months of May-September.
How about this instead? Can you see the ever changing colors of license plates as they slowly pass you by as to wait in traffic for more than 15 mins past your standard commute to Starbucks?
We all know that summer in Arizona means lots of things. It means days in the pool, rattlesnakes, burning our butts on the seats of our vehicles, baking cookies in our cars, and also the departure of some of our part time residents. However was does the end of summer mean?
Pumpkin Spice Lattes? Well sure… but what I mean is the flooding back of my favorite part timers!
I have to start by saying I am holding onto hope that someday I can be one of these “part time residents“. What a concept of being able to hop on a plane and go somewhere that doesn’t actually cook a steak if you leave it outside. Wow… Daring to dream here.
But what happens when you get ready to head back East after the mild winters here? To head back to your primary or secondary home for months at a time during one of Arizona’s most unpredictable seasons? What happens when your home is stuck behind getting rocked by the unreal monsoons we face, or even the micro burst of winds that come on like a hurricane. Or on the flip side, you have been gone for months from your Arizona residence and are getting ready to prep your back east home for time away. By getting ready to prepare your Arizona home now while you are here… it could prevent a disaster.
By not being around you are up against one of the hardest “risks” in the insurance world. Unawareness.
What I am hoping to accomplish in this article are tips and tricks on how you can “Arizona” proof your home before you get ready to head back home after the winter months. By using some quick and easy tips you can not only cut your exposure in half but you can also have the peace of mind needed for the away time you crave during the harsh Arizona summers.
Turn your Water Off
Most experts recommend that if you are going to be gone from your residence for even a weeks time you should be turning the water off to your home.
I realize that probably sounds a little silly coming from the land of DROUGHT but being away from your home for any length of time with no one checking on it truly leaves you open for water loss exposure.
The reality: A customer of mine in the insurance world is gone for 3 months over the summer to head back to his home in Massachusetts. While away he had a water pipe slowly start leaking in his bathroom. To make a sad story even worse, the water ended up over time becoming standing water and when someone finally noticed the damage we had mold issues, flooring issue, and basically the entire house was a disaster.
Some might look at Turning your Water off as a bit extreme (and I would follow up to that with a challenge of turn it off or deal with an extreme claim) so I reached out to an expert in prevention to see if there was anything else that could be done to prevent/protect your home from water losses while you were gone.
Scott Melde, That Alarm Guy, with Capital Connect weighed in for us to share a new and innovative idea about being on top of water losses. Capital Connect specializes in providing home security systems to residential and commercial consumers. Their company is on the cusp of digital technology in home protection and they pride themselves on being local here in Arizona.
I run into many homeowners who don’t even know where their water shut off valve is in their homes, so albeit it seems like a easy task, for most this is one that wouldn’t be accomplished unless reminded. So my first recommendation is to get to know your home and be proactive. Yes, we can protect your home from break in’s etc but most people don’t realize the real dangers sometime reside within your home and not from the outside.
After speaking with Scott in more detail to make sure that my customers weren’t up against this unfortunate exposure, both exposing them and my agency to massive losses. Scott explained the benefit of having integrated flood sensors into your home alarm system.
The largest benefit to this feature is the obvious prevention of further loss in the event of a water disaster.
Quick response time is the primary reason why most homeowners end up saving themselves thousands on costly water damage repair and on their insurance deductibles. By getting it early you could save yourself a giant out of pocket deductible and hundreds of dollars of premium increases on your homeowners insurance”
Vehicles Need to be Stored Inside
No I am not telling you to pull your vehicle into your living room.
However, I am telling you that if you have a vehicle parked in your driveway and are gone for months at a time, let’s be smarter than the thieves on your street shall we? Pull that car into your garage, carport, or shed.
If you don’t have one of the above areas available to you you could also try entrusting a neighbor to check on the vehicle for you and just simply be aware of it and what they need to do if they should need to reach you.
** Pro- Tip** Call your insurance agent prior to you leaving for a lot of other tips on how you can make sure your car has coverage in place for the just in case incidents that sometimes do pop up.
Don’t underestimate your Home Security
Now, before any of you check out and say “we are good we have dogs”… (yeah you Bill… I am talking to you). The key here is to keep in mind, if someone wants something bad enough they will make it their life’s mission to have it. If they want in they will do everything they can to get in.
Including Breaking In.
There are the obvious things that you can do to protect your home against theft while you are away but here are some other tips and tricks you can use to pad your Home Security System. And since I had an expert nearby I thought why not find out some tips and trick on how Bill there can be ready in the event of a burglary.
Well, hey there Bill. I am so excited to hear you have found a new breed of dog that is able to text you or call you in the event of a break in! In that case could you please come on over to my house to train mine? I feel currently mine would be more apt to lick an intruder to death than anything actually productive.
What most homeowners don’t realize is that burglars are desperate. They are not concerned with the well being of your animals or the simple tricks used to protect your home. If they want in, they are getting in.
Make sure your home security system can give you instant information as to what is currently happening in your home. Not all systems are created equal. Be aware of what you are getting.
You can chose systems that will monitor your doors being locked, your garage door being open, detect if glass is being broken, or any type of motion detectors.
Preventative Maintenance is Key
We all have those neighbors that continuously walk their dogs at 5:47 am every morning, the predictable kind that you know what route they are taking to work also. As wonderful as routines are they also can be the weak link when you are getting ready to head out of town for any length of time.
The key here is the Smoke and Mirrors.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure your home looks like it’s lived in.
- Arrange for your mail to be picked up or invest in a PO BOX
- Install motion detector lights on the exterior of your home
- Make sure your trash cans are in and out of site in your backyard
- Air Conditioning/Heating Maintenance
- Monthly Pest Services
- Weeds/Landscaping Services
The exterior of your home is almost just as important as the inside, in fact maybe even more important. When you are away the critters who occupy your premise will still be around. You’ll want to make sure you are keeping your lawn maintenance up, any pest control services up to date, and keep your continued rotation of monthly service providers.
Know your Insurance Coverage and Policy
You wouldn’t believe how many people don’t have their secondary homes actually covered as a secondary home. In fact if I told you the amount of business professionals I work with who didn’t even know you need to have a separate endorsement on your policy to cover it being a secondary residence.
Talk to your insurance agent, by delaying you are only allowing possible claims to happen as well as opening the door for the insurance company to find you negligent for not informing them of this crucial detail.
We realize any time disaster can strike, however we also know that half of the reasons disasters occur are simply just because we don’t take the necessary precautions when it comes to being away from our residences for any length of time. Part of being a responsible part time resident is just being aware that you live an amazingly unique lifestyle. A lifestyle that Arizona knows very well, and that I am so unbelievably jealous of.
So when your oven mitts come out to hang on tight to your steering wheel (probably bought mid May right folks?) it means its time to head on back to your summer residence. Do so with confidence and preparation.