Protecting your Seasonally Occupied Property
Should Someone Visit my Unit while I am Away?
A question that I am often asked is “Should someone visit my unit for me while I am away”.
“YES” is always the answer regardless of the company which may be providing coverage.
The Condominium Or Home Insurance application for coverage will always ask during which months the unit may be unoccupied. Most Insurance companies will add a small surcharge in rate to the policy if the unit is a secondary or seasonal residence. The Company being willing to insure you as a seasonal does alleviate your duties to maintain the property. Unfortunately, The Insurance contract does not specifically indicate that you must have a “caretaker” that will take care of your property while you are away. As such, I will often hear “I don’t have to ask anyone to look after my unit since your policy does not tell me to do so” from client.
You cannot be negligent with the caretaking of your unit.
The FL Insurance policy does not have to specifically tell you what to do while you are away since the policy has a “Failure to maintain” clause. They simply advise you of what you cannot do. You cannot be negligent in your caretaking of the property or else it will provide the insurance company with the opportunity to deny the Claim. The Insurance Company fully expects you to do whatever is reasonable in an effort to avoid or reduce the risk of loss.
Duties of a Seasonal Unit Owner when leaving the property for greater than 30 days.
Always performing these few simple tasks will greatly reduce your chances of suffering a loss:
- Make sure that your main water valve for the unit is 100% shut off. These valves can get a little rusty over the years. Please ask your plumber to change the valve if it is showing signs of wear or rust.
- Make sure that you do not leave the Kitchen & Bathroom sinks closed. A small drip in your sink can accumulate fast, overflow and cause substantial damage.
- Do not shut off the electric service to your unit while you are away for 6 months. You must control the humidity level in your unit in order to prevent Mold.
- Please find someone that you trust or hire a condo “babysitting” service to look after the unit while you are away. Please choose the person carefully. Someone who may not be able to see or walk as well as they use to may not be the correct person for you to choose even if they are willing to do it for free. Neighbors such as these have a tendency to simply open and close your door without truly entering the unit and looking throughout the entire unit for potential signs of a loss. Please remember as a rule of thumb that a visit every 14 days is Great!
How to Avoid Mold and reduce losses.
Green Mold that accumulates over all of your belongings is the result of a residence which had high humidity levels that were not controlled for an extended period of time. Mold can start to accumulate if the Humidity rises ABOVE 50%. Insurance Companies regard this type of Green Mold as a loss due to the Failure to maintain the property. These types of losses which arise due to the negligence of the property owner are always denied.
Please ask your caretaker to check the Humidity Levels within your home as well as looking for any water damage which may have occurred within the kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, etc, etc. Most Hardware stores sell an item which can be purchased for your home called an indoor humidity monitor or humidistat. There are different brands made by Acu Rite or the Weather Channel and the prices range from $15 to $35,. The Humidity level should be kept between 35% to 50%. Please make sure that your caretaker realizes that your humidity level should be read every time there is a visit to the unit & it should never be above 50%. A high humidity level is a great indicator that a loss may have occurred within your walls that is not currently visible. This small purchase & having someone reliable to look after your unit is a great way to prevent a claim & save Thousands in the event that a claim occurs. The old saying is very true……prevention is the best medicine!
This article is special courtesy of Rivard Insurance Agency Inc.