Your Home Watch

Keep your place safe, avoid in­surance has­sles

Cape Coral Living - - Front Page - BY JEAN GRUSS Jean Gruss is a for­mer busi­ness jour­nal­ist and owner of Gruss Com­mu­ni­ca­tions on Sani­bel.

Diane Pisani can share count­less sto­ries about sea­sonal res­i­dents leav­ing their Southwest Florida homes in the hands of un­trust­wor­thy peo­ple. For ex­am­ple, one home watcher took ad­van­tage of his clients by rent­ing out the condo with­out their knowl­edge. Another home watch am­a­teur failed to spot a leak in the garage un­til the ceil­ing caved in on the owner’s BMW sedan. This is no laugh­ing mat­ter, says Pisani, au­thor of The Ul­ti­mate Home Watch In­ter­view Guide. One in­surance com­pany de­nied a $30,000 claim for mold dam­age be­cause there was no proof any­one was watch­ing the home, she says. Pisani is the founder of Your Home Watch Pro­fes­sion­als, a Naples-based com­pany that pro­vides com­pre­hen­sive train­ing to en­trepreneurs seek­ing to launch and op­er­ate a home watch busi­ness. She re­cently shared some tips for sea­sonal home­own­ers.

TOTI Me­dia: What’s the big­gest threat to my home while I’m away from Southwest Florida for the sum­mer? Diane Pisani: High hu­mid­ity can be the be­gin­ning of the end. It can de­stroy your home. Mold can start to grow within a few days if the hu­mid­ity is el­e­vated and other fa­vor­able con­di­tions ex­ist. Imag­ine if you leave in May, your air-con­di­tion­ing unit breaks in June and you do not re­turn un­til Oc­to­ber! Even a small mold cleanup can cost thou­sands of dol­lars and tens of thou­sands af­ter sev­eral weeks or months of ne­glect.

TM Won’t in­surance cover any dam­age to my home while I’m away? DP Not nec­es­sar­ily. In­surance com­pa­nies of­ten deny a claim, es­pe­cially if you can’t prove some­one was watch­ing your home on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Check your in­surance com­pany’s pol­icy care­fully to de­ter­mine how fre­quently your home watch com­pany needs to visit. TM What ser­vices should I ex­pect from a pro­fes­sional home watch com­pany? DP Your home watch pro­fes­sional knows that your water should be turned off when your home is va­cant and vul­ner­a­ble. When they visit, they will turn it on and they will cy­cle the water by run­ning it in sinks, tubs and show­ers, op­er­ate ap­pli­ances and use their flash­light to con­duct a com­pre­hen­sive check look­ing for ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and early signs of water dam­age. A home watch pro­fes­sional has re­sources as well as a back-up plan if he or she can’t visit your home at the ap­pointed time. Busi­ness part­ners or trusted and trained team mem­bers should be able to pro­vide the ser­vice in case the home watch busi­ness owner is un­able to make the visit.

TM What reg­u­la­tions gov­ern the home watch in­dus­try? DP You may be sur­prised to dis­cover that there are no reg­u­la­tions or li­cens­ing re­quire­ments for home watch com­pa­nies. That means you want to thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gate a home watch com­pany be­fore hand­ing over your keys. Ask for a cer­tifi­cate of in­surance with cov­er­age of at least $1 mil­lion and check for yearly re­newals. You can search for an af­fil­i­ate of Your Home Watch Pro­fes­sion­als by zip code at yourhwp.com. Each af­fil­i­ate has passed a back­ground check and meets rig­or­ous train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion re­quire­ments.

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