It is getting to be that time of year again isn’t it? The temperature is working its way down, perceptibly. Twilight is coming a little earlier each evening. Soon enough you won’t be spending nearly the same amount of time out at the campground. Soon enough it will be time for preparation for the end of the season at that summer home, that little slice of heaven where you go to “get away.”
Not many people are coming from far away to “summer” (yup, that’s a verb) in Minnesota. So for the purposes of this article, what we are really talking about is a permanent cabin at the lake or along the river that is only used during the summer months.
If you are just thinking of purchasing such a place for yourself and your family or if this is your first year as a home-away-from-home owner, there are a few things you’ll need to consider.
When winter approaches, there is no denying it. But you can be prepared. And that means two things.
1) Cleaning, securing, weatherproofing and closing up your place for the winter, and
2) making sure you have it insured just the right amount for the upcoming portion of the year when it will not be occupied.
Let’s talk about that dreaded time when you resign yourself to the reality of the coming winter.
Get your carpet, floors and windows cleaned at the end of the season. Not only will all the dirt and sand and grass you dragged in throughout the summer be one final reminder of all of the good times you had over the summer, but you’ll thank yourself when next summer comes around and all there is to be done is enjoy.
For the same reason, if this summer home has heating and air, this is a good time to clean out the air ducts so they are ready for next year.
Weather sealing is just as important, if not more important, for that summer home which you’ll be absent from for half the year. It is also about keeping the elements out and keep the pipes from freezing while you’re away.
As for the outdoor area of the property, always be sure to clear away any large branches or other debris from the yard to prevent any damage during a storm that may come up while you are away.
After that, all there is left to do is turn out the lights, shut everything down and lock up.
What about insurance?
Since we already talked about that final end-of-summer clean-up, remember cleaning out the place also means packing up valuable possessions that you do not need to leave there. Just like your primary home, the insurance on your vacation home covers the items therein and the premium can be lowered, accordingly.
If it is in a remote location not easily accessible for fire prevention, that will make it more expensive. Same thing if it is in a location that leaves it susceptible to wind or water damage. If it is you’ll want to look into additional coverage that is not included in your basic homeowner’s policy.
Just the fact that it is unoccupied for long stretches of time leave it susceptible to damage that goes undetected and unfixed, and leaves it more open to break-ins. Some insurance companies will consider whether you have someone tending to the property or checking in on it while you are away, to determine what your premium will be. Many comes will give a break if you also do business with them on your primary home. Of course you always want to take advantage of an opportunity to bundle.
Other than these unique factors, the premium is determined the same way; cost of replacement, deductible, etc.
The cost of insuring your vacation home can be brought down by installing an alarm system, deadbolts, sprinkler systems etc., which, honestly tend to cost more than the savings in premium but they will prevent major claims which in the long run will save you from premiums going through the roof.
This article is directly related to the off-season. During the summer you may have a boat, other water craft or ATVs that you use at your summer home which leave you open to all sorts of liabilities, that you can cover with your existing liability insurance. That is something you will want to discuss in more depth with a Horihan Insurance agent. And if you happen to rent your second home out during what for you is the “off season” then you’ll need to discuss that in more depth as well. We are here to go over all of the ins and outs of the coverage on your vacation home. Meantime, enjoy what is left of the warm weather!