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TDCI: Keep Your Home Safe While Traveling This Summer

Insurance Division Reminds Consumers of Easy Ways to Deter Thieves
Monday, July 22, 2019 | 11:34am

NASHVILLE – As the summer travel season winds down ahead of the start of school in August, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (TDCI) is providing tips to help consumers evaluate their insurance needs and risks before setting off on a family vacation.

“Summer is the perfect time to take a vacation with friends and family,” said TDCI Interim Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “It’s important that consumers have peace of mind and know that their belongings —both those that they take with them and those they leave at home—are covered by their insurance policies in the event of an accident or emergency. We also remind consumers to plan ahead and take precautions that could deter thieves from taking advantage of an empty home.”

TDCI and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provide the following tips to ensure consumers are protected while enjoying summer fun:

Traveling:

Whether you're leaving home for a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, be aware of what your homeowners or renters policy will cover. Typically, homeowners insurance will follow you, protecting you even while you're not at home. Off-premises coverage means your belongings are insured anywhere in the world. If you're staying at a hotel and your belongings are stolen, your homeowners policy will provide protection, but the exact coverage depends on your policy. In addition to your deductible, expensive items such as jewelry will typically have a replacement limit. Contact your agent to find out what's insured under your policy.

Discouraging Break-Ins:

Making your home a less enticing target can discourage break-ins and may even lower your insurance premium.

  • Install deadbolts on doors. These can slow a burglar, and in some cases lead to an insurance discount.
  • Invest in an alarm system or motion-activated camera. An alarm will often discourage a burglar. Some alarm systems may result in an insurance discount.

Keep your Home Looking “Lived In”:

Ensuring your home appears as if someone lives there could deter a thief from attempting a break in. Here are some ways to make your home look occupied, even if you’re away for an extended period of time:

  • Put interior lights on a timer or choose a few rooms to remain lit to give the impression someone is home.
  • Stop mail delivery or have a neighbor collect your mail, newspapers and packages so they don't stack up outside.
  • Hire someone to cut the grass if you'll be gone long enough that growth will be noticeable.
  • Leave a radio on and turn down your doorbell volume, if possible. Some thieves ring the doorbell or knock to determine if anyone is home. Having a loud radio playing and the doorbell muted plants doubt in an intruder's mind.
  • Have a locked car parked in your driveway. Another way to make a home look lived in is to have cars coming and going from the driveway throughout the day.

Protecting your home's contents is also important. Give a spare key to a neighbor or friend to have access to the home. Avoid the cliché of putting the key under the mat, as thieves often check there. Keep important documents and expensive items in a lockbox, a safe, or at another location. Don't keep valuable documents in a personal desk or office where burglars will know to look for them. Stow your computer out of sight to discourage an intruder from trying to hack into your personal accounts.

Wait to Share:

Showing off your trip on social media is a fun way to engage your online audience, but it can also tip off a thief that your home is empty. Don't announce your trip in advance except to trusted friends. Talking about an upcoming trip in public settings or posting trip photos on social media while you are away lets potential burglars know your home is empty. Wait until you are home to share the trip highlights on social media.

For more consumer insurance tips, visit tn.gov/insurance.