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05/31/2018

Wolf Administration Urges Homeowners to Protect Their Properties While on Vacation, Debuts Video Offering Tips

Harrisburg, PA - Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today urged homeowners to take precautions to protect their homes from break-ins as the summer vacation season begins.

“The Memorial Day holiday signals the traditional start of summer, and with most schools about to begin summer break, Pennsylvanians will very soon be hitting the road for summer vacations,” Altman said.  “Before leaving for a trip, there are steps homeowners can take to lessen the chance of a break-in and perhaps save on their homeowners’ insurance as well.”

Making your home a less enticing target is one way to both discourage break-ins and potentially lower homeowners’ insurance.  Ways of doing this include:

·         Installing dead bolt locks on doors.  These can slow a burglar’s ability to enter your home, and in some cases can lead to a discount on insurance.  Homeowners can also consider dead bolts on windows.

·         Invest in a burglar alarm system.  Noise can often discourage a burglar, and systems which automatically notify police and other emergency services bring help quickly.  Some alarm systems may result in an insurance discount.

Keeping your home looking “lived-in” is also a good idea.  Among ways to do this are:

·         Putting interior lights on a timer.  Choosing a few rooms to remain lit gives the impression someone is home.  Consider a timer or asking a neighbor to turn on interior and exterior lights at night.

·         Stop mail delivery, or have a trusted neighbor collect your mail, newspapers, and any delivered packages so they don’t stack up outside, a clear signal no one is home.

·         Ask a neighbor to cut the grass if you’ll be gone long enough that the growth will be noticeable.

·         Leave a radio on and turn down your doorbell if possible.  Some thieves ring the doorbell or knock to try and determine if anyone is home, and having a loud radio playing and the doorbell level muted plants doubt in an intruder’s mind as to whether no one is home or the resident just didn’t hear the doorbell or knock.

Protecting your home’s contents is also important.  Give a spare key directly to a trusted neighbor or friend to have access to the home.  Don’t fall into the cliché of putting the key “under the mat”, as thieves will check there.  Don’t put valuable documents in a personal desk or office where burglars will know to look for them.    Put important documents and expensive items such as jewelry in a lockbox or safe elsewhere in the house, or at another location such as a friend or relative’s home, or in a safety deposit box.  Also turn off and stow your computer out of sight to discourage an intruder from trying to hack into your personal accounts.

Don’t announce your trip in advance except to a small group of trusted friends.  Talking about your upcoming vacation in public settings where you don’t know who may be listening or posting pictures on social media while you are away is a sure way of letting potential burglars know your home is empty.

“Review your homeowners’ policy to make sure you are getting any discounts for security measures you may have taken, and to make sure you have the coverage you want for the personal items you take along,” Altman said.  “Most homeowners’ and renters’ policies will cover personal items stolen or damaged on a trip, but if you’ll have expensive items such as jewelry, talk to your insurance professional and make sure you’re covered.”

The Insurance Department produced a short video outlining tips for homeowners to safeguard their properties while on vacation.  The video is posted on the department’s homeowners’ insurance page, along with a home security checklist

Consumers with insurance questions can contact the Insurance Department Consumer Services Bureau at www.insurance.pa.gov, or 1-877-881-6388.

MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman - 717-787-3289

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