The Precautions You May Not Think of Before Vacation

July 9, 2018

Going on vacation? Maybe you bought a trip to Bangkok or London, or perhaps you're doing a tour of Civil War sites in the South.

While the chances of you being affected by violence on vacation are typically low, there are other risks that you need to consider: like an unexpected problem at home - such as a plumbing leak - when you are thousands of miles away, having valuables stolen, injuring yourself in a scooter crash or having your personal data hijacked.

Although the idea of taking a vacation is to leave your everyday life behind for a while, if you fail to take certain actions ahead of time, you could end up being hit with a nasty surprise. These are some of the precautions you can take:  

Batten the hatches

If you think burglary is the biggest risk to your unoccupied home when you are away, you will be surprised to know that according to the Insurance Information Institute, the average post-vacation burglary claim is for $3,990, while the average loss cost for water-related damage is more than $8,800.

While you may think that a small leak can't cause much damage, it can if left unattended. While a leak when you are at home may go undetected for a day or two, if nobody is home at all it can cause serious damage since nobody is there to stop it.

The time between when a leak occurs and when it's discovered directly impacts the severity (and cost) of water damage.

Here's what you could do:

  • Turn off your main water supply before traveling.
  • Check for any leaks prior to departure.
  • Ask a neighbor you trust or a relative to check on your home every few days (they can also grab your mail and put it inside).
  • Consider installing a water shut-off device, if you don't already have one. If you do have one, replace all batteries and set the device to "away mode" before leaving.

If you bring jewelry, check your coverage

While the smartest choice is to leave expensive jewelry at home, some people do like to bring it along. A typical homeowner's policy has a $5,000 cap on valuables so if your bling is worth more than that, you may want to consider a jewelry rider with worldwide all-risk coverage to your homeowner's policy.

Take care of your jewelry:

  • Don't pack jewelry items in your checked luggage.
  • Keep all jewelry in your carry-on, preferably one that you can keep on your person during the whole flight.
  • After checking in, and when not wearing it, keep your jewelry in the hotel's main safe - not in the room safe. Keep the jewelry there until you intend to wear it.
  • Don't wear your jewelry at the beach or in the pool.

Go low-tech

While you may be tempted to share your vacation photos live or the same day you take them on Facebook or Instagram, there is a chance this can tip off would-be thieves that your home is unattended. If you are sharing, make sure you have your Facebook privacy settings to friends and family only, and consider postponing uploads to the more open Instagram.

Also, don't use the "check-in" function or hashtags, as doing so can alert local thieves that a potentially gullible tourist is in the vicinity.

Also, unsecured Wi-Fi networks are prevalent in hotel lobbies, restaurants and other tourist destinations. Vigilant hackers can gain entry into your mobile device and your personal data on these networks, so use with care.

Accident insurance

Injuries and accidents can happen while on vacation. The level of international medical coverage provided by your domestic insurance provider can vary greatly depending on your plan, so you may have very limited coverage - or none at all.

A travel medical insurance plan can provide the coverage you need.

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