Lots of Albertans are really looking forward to the upcoming holidays, as for many it means packing up and heading to warmer (or at least better) climates for a relaxing vacation. Whether you are hitting the slopes, dipping your toes in some salty surf, or hitting the links to keep chipping away at your handicap, you want to enjoy your time worry-free. These well-deserved sojourns are just the thing for getting through the winter, but unfortunately while everyone else is relaxing, burglars begin to put in overtime.
While the pandemic kept people from travelling, the occurrence of home break-ins reduced by approximately 26%. But those numbers have ramped right back up again, and Alberta has the dubious distinction of tallying the second-most break-and-enters in the country.
Across Canada, residential break-ins happen every 90 seconds, according to SGI Canada, and more than 80% of those occur during daylight hours. Here are a few ways to stop one from happening to you and your family.
Ways to keep burglars away from your home
We at Lane’s are experienced insurance brokers who are well-versed in all the ins-and-outs of home insurance. One of the best developments we’ve witnessed in recent years is the advent of sophisticated – and affordable – home security systems that allow owners to keep an eye on all aspects of their property, not just the unwanted prowler creeping around. Newer home security systems use wireless wifi, which means there is no risk of a cable being cut to disable the system, and can keep owners apprised of situations such as a furnace going out, a window accidentally being left open, a water leak, and even smoke and carbon dioxide detectors malfunctioning. Best of all, they will alert you when anything is wrong through your smartphone so you can get the assistance you need to your property quickly.
If your home security system doesn’t include motion detectors, purchase them separately as they are a great way to surprise and deter uninvited guests to your property. Timers to turn your TV, interior lights, and lamps on and off are also very effective at tricking burglars into thinking there is someone home when there is not.
If you have a home security system but have not informed your home insurance provider, be sure to do so. It might result in a discount on your home insurance premiums.
Keep up your coverage — Get your home checked
It is generally up to individual home insurance policy holders to fully understand the terms and conditions of their coverage. Details vary from company to company. If you have never checked before, be sure to call your insurance broker or provider to clarify their requirements for keeping your coverage active before you leave. While some insurers may continue to offer full coverage for up to 30 days after you depart, it is far more common for exclusions to be introduced after as little as two days.
Be sure you are meeting your home insurance requirements by having a mature and competent person enter and check your property at least every two days while you are away. This is when good neighbours come in handy! Ask your person to perform a complete walk-through, including through your basement, and to keep track of their visits and anything they notice in a logbook of some sort. It is also ideal to have someone pick up your mail and shovel your walk while you are away, and anyone taking on these tasks should be properly rewarded with (at the very least) a souvenir or other special treat from your trip.
If you’re away for more than a couple of days, it’s also wise to turn off your water supply. In fact, many insurance companies require this and may refuse a water damage claim if it has not been done. Remember, water damage is the most common home insurance claim by far – especially in empty homes. Of course, turning your water off won’t keep thieves away, but it will keep you from having to make expensive repairs and potentially seeing your home insurance costs go up.
Additional tips for deterring burglars
It seems like common sense, but too many people make the mistake of posting their vacation whereabouts on social media, including how long they will be away. As careful as you are about your privacy settings, you don’t know about your friends’ sharing policies online (are all of their posts public?), and you also don’t know about the “friends” they may have who are specifically watching for someone to admit they won’t be in their residences for several days. Wait until you are back to post pics of the fun you were having.
Although you may think you have your jewelry tucked away in a great spot where nobody will look, keep in mind that burglars are well aware of common (and uncommon) hiding spots. For items of high value, we recommend a safe. The longer a burglar stays in your home, the higher their chances of being caught, so it’s unlikely they will bother to try to “crack” your safe.
As mentioned before, stop your mail and keep your walk shovelled. If someone can’t help pick up your mail, or if you are in an area without a Canada Post “superbox” where is it safe to leave your mail for several days, put a hold on delivery until you return through the Canada Post website. Also see if you can hire a local teenager or professional company to take care of your shovelling while you are gone. Not only will it appear that you haven’t gone anywhere, it will also help you avoid a fine for failing to clear your sidewalks and pathways.
Contact Lane’s for great service and low home insurance rates
Lane’s Insurance is a leading Alberta-based brokerage that offers competitively priced products from leading local carriers. If you have questions about your current home insurance coverage, or if you’re looking for a good quote on a great new policy, call Lane’s to get a quick, no-obligation quote. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff and Alberta offices.