A Publication of WTVP

Americans are notorious for not using all of the vacation days allotted to them—the average is 14 days, and each year, about four of those days are not used. It seems that planning and taking a trip causes too much stress to be able to relax. Over 80 percent of Americans carry electronic devices while on vacation to communicate with work, and 40 percent log on to check their work email.

Small business owners have even more stress when planning to get away—so many things have to be covered and the preparation is usually longer than the actual trip. Whether you go for two weeks, two days or two months, your life away is different from your life at home. But it is your home that you have to keep in mind because you are more vulnerable to situations that could happen while you are gone.

Before you leave home, it is always a good idea to take some precautions to ward off break-ins. According to FBI statistics, a home is broken into once every 11 seconds. More than half of all break-ins occur in broad daylight, when many people are away at school, work or shopping. Make it look like you’re home by setting your lights, television and radio on a timer. If you are going to be out of town for several days, contact the post office and newspaper to have your delivery suspended so mail won’t pile up—a dead giveaway that no one is home. Arrange to keep your lawn mowed and maintained. Tell your neighbors if you are going to be gone for an extended period of time and maybe ask if they would park their car in your driveway. Contact the police and tell them the dates for which you will be out of town. Many law enforcement agencies have a “vacant house” list, so that when patrolling, officers keep a closer eye on these addresses to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is going on.

Then you need to consider the “stuff” you take with you. Your homeowner’s insurance covers personal property owned or used by any insured person anywhere in the world. It is important to keep in mind that the covered perils are clearly stated in your policy and do not always cover all the things that might happen. For example, if you have an expensive camera and it were stolen, there is coverage, but if you accidentally drop it and break it, there is not coverage, unless you have added it as scheduled property on your policy for an additional premium. Of course you need to do that even if you never leave town—and don’t forget about your Blackberry.

Just so you won’t worry, take a walk through the house before you leave and check for any water that might be running and turn off the water that goes to your washing machine. A broken hose or overflowing toilet could cause thousands in damages over a week or two—covered, but you would not be very popular with your insurance company.

A golf destination trip is always a good bet for real relaxing—or not. Just make sure you schedule your golf clubs before you get crazy after a bad round and throw them in the lake—and you might not want to mention to your agent how they got in the lake… iBi