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What to do before you go away

November 8, 2017

Whether you’re going away for just a few days or much longer, take a few precautions before you leave to avoid a nasty surprise on your return. Follow our tips for peace of mind when you’re out of town.


It only happens to other people, right?

Theft, vandalism, arson and break-ins are the most common property crimes in Canadian cities.

Statistics Canada ran a study of police-reported crimes in 20131:

  • More than a million property crimes were reported to police—half of all crimes reported.
  • Break-ins and stolen vehicles were the most frequently reported crimes.
  • The data showed that in Canada there’s around 1 break-in every 3 minutes and 1 vehicle theft every 7 minutes.

Water damage: the number one cause of loss

Water damage losses are at the top of the list for home insurance claims. Leaking roofs, burst pipes, flooding rivers, and sewers that back-up or overflow—whatever the cause, water damage claims are the most costly residential claims.2

Reduce the risk of water damage while you’re away

  • Turn off the main water supply and drain the pipes.
  • Leave the heating on to avoid the risk of frozen pipes that can burst.
  • Make sure your eavestroughs, downspouts and drains are clear. Remove any snow and ice that’s collected around doors and windows. Freeze and thaw cycles can cause water to accumulate and seep into your home.
  • If you have a sump pump, get it checked by a plumber.
  • Make sure your backwater valve is working properly. Backwater valves are installed on the main sewer line and prevent waste water from backing up into your basement.

Get more tips on preventing water damage.

Tip: Your mobile device can help you prevent water damage! Introducing the Alert program, available free on the Desjardins Insurance Home-Auto app.

Prevent theft and break-ins

Here are a few tips to help keep the bad guys at bay. The idea is to make believe there’s actually someone home, or at least not to draw attention to the fact that you’re away!

  • Ask someone you trust to pick up your mail, newspapers and flyers during your absence. Ask Canada Post to hold onto your mail and put any newspaper deliveries on hold.
  • In winter, make sure your driveway and steps are cleared of snow while you’re away.
  • If possible, leave a car parked in the driveway or ask a neighbour to park there.
  • Use a programmable timer to switch the lights on and off, both inside and outside your home. An alarm system and movement detectors are also good ways to deter thieves and prevent break-ins.
  • Safely lock away any tools and equipment that are likely to attract thieves, like shovels and snowblowers. 
  • Curb your enthusiasm about your upcoming trip! Avoid telling everyone on social media and don’t announce it on your voicemail message!
  • Mark your valuables, like computers and electronics, to make them more difficult for thieves to sell and easier for the police to find. 

Watch out for fire hazards

Water isn’t the only thing that can damage your property—fire is a risk too. Here’s how you can reduce fire hazards while you’re away:

  • Make sure all your heating appliances and systems are working properly (furnace, fireplace, wood burning stove, etc.)
  • Don’t overlook important upkeep: have your heating system and ducts inspected, maintained and cleaned every year to prevent fires.
  • Drop the temperature on your thermostats, but don’t turn them off entirely—you don’t want your pipes to freeze!

Welcome home!

Follow these tips to help prevent water damage, theft and fire so you can come back to a home that’s safe and sound! One last thing—if you’re going away for an extended period, don’t forget to contact your insurer to let them know!

Sources:
1. Property crime, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
2. Dégel printanier: prévenez les dommages causés par l’eau, by Insurance Bureau of Canada, partner of Protégez-vous, April 2017 (French only)
Going away on vacation?, Info Insurance


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Certain conditions, limitations and exclusions may apply.

These tips are provided for information purposes only. They are general in nature, and Desjardins Insurance cannot be held liable for them. We recommend using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, tailored advice.