What are the most common home insurance claims?

Wed Mar 13 2024

A branch of an oak tree fallen through the roof of a house

Almost 98% of home insurance claims are for property damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III) annual study into the causes of home insurance losses. That said, liability claims, though far less frequent, are considerably more expensive when they do occur.

Every year approximately 6% of American homeowners file some sort of insurance claim. While knowing which home insurance claims  are the most common can’t stop damage from happening, it can help you protect against it.

1. Wind & hail (39.4%)

This category encompasses destruction caused by hurricanes, tornadoes, hail, and the wind associated with thunderstorms, so it’s no wonder it comes in first for frequency. Think about it: when major wind events roll into town, they often do a lot of damage – enough that repairs are greater than an insurance deductible.

But while wind and hail account for more than a third of all homeowners insurance claims, they’re actually not the most expensive. The average is only $12,913 per claim on average, making them third overall in terms of cost.

2. Fire and lightning damage (24.8%)

While fire and lightning claims rank fourth for frequency and second for percent of losses incurred, they tend to be the most expensive claims. The average price tag? A whopping $83,519.

The good news is that homeowners insurance was originally designed to protect against fires, so coverage for fire claims is typically easy to find.

The bad news, obviously, is that fires can destroy a lot of property fast (hence the high cost of claims).

3. Water damage & freezing (23.5%)

When pipes freeze and burst or appliances leak, serious damage can result. About one in 60 insured homes has a property damage claim caused by non-weather water damage or freezing each year.

In addition to being common, these claims can be expensive. They rank second overall and come in at an average of $12,514 per claim.

4. All other property damage (9.4%)

Miscellaneous property damage can take a million forms: a tree falling through your roof, a baseball shattering your window, a trash truck backing into your brand-new garage. Because of the sheer variety here, the average cost of these types of claims isn’t too informative. But for the record, it’s $7,460.

5. Bodily injury or property damage to others (1.8%)

Let’s all be glad liability claims are rare because they tend to be really expensive. As a refresher, liability refers to your duty toward other people. So, when a guest is injured or has their property damaged while visiting your home, you may be liable for their medical costs or the costs to repair or replace their property.

Liability claims rank second in average cost, coming in at $31,663. The good news? Most homeowners insurance policies offer liability protection.

6. Theft (0.7%)

The sixth most common homeowners insurance claim is theft. Coming in at just under one percent of all claims and averaging $4,646, theft claims are the smallest of the big guys, you could say.

If you’d like to reduce your risk of theft even further, consider installing a home security system. Some insurers even offer premium discounts for doing this!

7. Medical payments and other causes (0.5%)

Rounding out the list of top home insurance claims is payments for medical care for property-related injuries. While 0.5% may seem insignificant in terms of percentage of claims, the average loss for these types of claims is $10,179 – the fifth most expensive type of claim according to the III’s study.

Mitigate your risk to save your home & your money

Homeowners don’t want bad things to happen to their houses because damage is expensive and a pain to deal with. Insurance companies also don’t want bad things to happen because those bad things cost them money.

That’s why a lot of insurance carriers offer lower premiums for homeowners who mitigate their risk. Risk mitigation might involve:

  • Having a smoke alarm with working batteries.

  • Having a fire extinguisher.

  • Living near a fire department.

  • Having a home security system.

  • Having a carbon monoxide detector.

  • Maintaining your plumbing and sprinkler systems.

One important note: While safety and security updates are almost always wise, they don’t all lead to an insurance discount. If you’re considering higher-end upgrades with an eye on premium savings, check with your insurer first.

How much coverage do I need?

Understanding the types of risks you’re vulnerable to can help you figure out how much home insurance you need. You want to take a look at the likelihood of those risks occurring, plus other factors, such as your home’s: 

  • Location.

  • Features.

  • Value. 

All play a part in determining the amount of coverage that’s right for you. With more than 10 million Americans having to file some sort of home insurance claim each year, it’s important to be as protected as possible.


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