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7 Security Tips for Your Vacation Home

Do you have a second home in the mountains, at the beach, or in another getaway spot? Since you don’t spend all of your time at your vacation property, it’s important to take steps to protect your home from theft or vandalism when no one is around. A vacant home is extremely vulnerable. Have you considered putting these measures into place?

1. Invest in a security system with remote monitoring.

Many homes today have security systems, but not all security systems are created equal. Especially when you’re not present in the home, a security system with remote monitoring allows you to check on your property any time of day or night through an app on your smartphone. Also, it’s important to make sure your security system is monitored so that if there is a break-in, police are notified and can respond accordingly.

Along with your security system, also consider installing a monitored leak detection system for tracking the potential of a water leak. These systems feature sensors to monitor water usage and detect leaks. If a leak is detected, it will automatically shut the water off to minimize damage—and send an alert to your smartphone if you have the app installed.

Talk with a home security professional to determine the right type of system for your vacation home and the appropriate number of cameras. Ask about outdoor cameras that include night vision and infrared heat detection for added accuracy.

If you rent out your second home on a periodic basis, be sure to check state-specific laws regarding security cameras when others are using the property.

2. Upgrade door and window locks.

Check and double-check door and window locks on your vacation home. If it’s an older home, consider upgrading those locks to modern ones that are more difficult to break into.

If others need to periodically access your home when you’re not there—such as a maintenance worker, housekeeper, or guest—consider adding a keyless door lock with a keypad. Don’t leave spare keys hidden on your property! A keypad lock with a six-digit passcode is the most difficult for a would-be intruder to guess, as there are over a million possible combinations. Also, be sure to use a passcode that is random and doesn’t follow a specific pattern (such as 123456, 111111, a family member’s birthdate, etc.). 

3. Install a video doorbell.

Video doorbells are an inexpensive way to keep an eye on visitors to your vacation home. With built-in motion detection, video doorbells record video whenever someone comes within range and sends an alert to an app on your smartphone. Many video doorbells also feature built-in microphones and speakers, allowing you to have a two-way conversation with the person at your doorstep—whether you’re inside the home or hundreds of miles away. 

4. Add smart lighting.

To give the appearance that your vacation home is occupied, consider installing smart lights. You can set up timers to automatically turn certain lights on and off, and you can even control them through an app on your smartphone. This is also a good way to light up the home if you’ll be arriving after dark.

The key to deterring would-be burglars is to program smart lights to mimic human behavior with no discernible pattern (for example, don’t time your kitchen light to come on at 8:00 p.m. and go off at 9:00 p.m. every night).

5. Purchase a porch lockbox for deliveries.

If deliveries will be sent to your vacation home when you’re not there, a porch lockbox can protect your packages from thieves. Porch lockboxes exist that allow carriers such as UPS, FedEx, Amazon, and others to easily scan the package’s tracking bar code to open the lockbox, place the package inside, and then close it to keep the package locked up and secure until you arrive.

6. Hire a licensed and insured home watch service.

Home watch services perform visual inspections of your home or property, following a checklist. These professionals thoroughly check all items on the list (such as checking ceilings for any stains/leaks, verifying that the air and heat are functioning properly, inspecting for insects or rodents, walking the property’s perimeter to look for any abnormalities, etc.), notify you of any issues, and follow your instructions to remedy any problems.

Before hiring a home watch service, be sure to get references, verify their credentials and insurance, and confirm that they keep detailed records of any visits to your home.

7. Make sure you have the right amount of insurance protection.

Whether you’ve had a vacation home for several years or you’re thinking about purchasing one in the near future, an insurance review is always a good idea. Your McGriff Family Risk Manager can schedule time with you to discuss your individual needs and ensure you have the right amount of coverage.

Insurance products and services offered through McGriff Insurance Services, LLC, a subsidiary of TIH Insurance Holdings, LCC, are not a deposit, not FDIC insured, not guaranteed by a bank, not insured by any federal government agency and may go down in value.

McGriff Insurance Services, LLC. CA License #0C64544