Many people across Canada love to live the snowbird lifestyle, enjoying the beautiful summers, but heading down to the Southern U.S. when winter rolls around. And while doing so keeps them in comfortable temperatures all year, it also poses potential problems for houses and other structures that may spend at least a few months of the year vacant and unused. As such, these homeowners need to evaluate the risk they may face, and figure out potential insurance solutions for problems they might not learn about for long periods of time.
This is an issue into which snowbirds may not put a particularly large amount of thought. After all, finding rental properties, or even buying homes in places like Florida and Arizona can often be a time-consuming task. However, making sure things are as they should be north of the border is also vitally important, especially when long, cold winters can do severe damage to homes.
Indeed, there have been many stories about homeowners who leave for the winter, and return home only to find significant damage to their properties that they or their neighbors weren’t able to detect, and which has therefore gone months without being addressed. Usually this comes in the form of things like pipes bursting inside a home, leading to potentially significant water damage, mold, and so on, which lies untouched. However, other issues that can affect homes even when people are living there, and which would obviously be detected more quickly – such as fires – can also become problematic.
Just one example
This kind of thing may not even necessarily be a concern for snowbirds alone, according to a report from the Welland Tribune. A rental home that had been vacant, and with a young family in the process of moving in, was destroyed by a fire in early December. It was not immediately clear what started the blaze, as investigators had to examine the structure, but the impact of the fire was devastating. The damage was initially assessed to have been worth at least $150,000, and the young family lost a lot of property even though no one was actually living at the home when the fire started.
“She was not 100 per cent moved and lost all of her appliances, clothes, some furniture, Christmas presents and two kittens are missing,” one of the family’s relatives told the newspaper.
What can be done?
As a consequence of this very real risk, it’s probably a good idea for Canadians who don’t live in their houses year-round to assess their insurance needs on a regular or ongoing basis. Doing so may help them spot holes in the coverage they carry which, in turn, can put them in difficult positions if their homes are damaged or destroyed by problems they might not have been able to foresee. That can help to avoid a lot of headaches, financial and otherwise, which could have cropped up as a result of such incidents.