How can I prevent common home insurance claims?
The following five types of losses make up 94 percent of all claims reported. Let’s learn more about them and find out how you can reduce your chance of claims by proactively safeguarding your home. Bonus: Your safety measures may even qualify you for lower home insurance premiums.
1. Wind and hail damage
A strong windstorm may knock a few shingles loose whereas tornado winds can impact an entire home. As with any loss, it’s smart to weigh the cost of the potential repair against your deductible.
Steps to mitigate wind & hail damages
- Check your roof regularly for loose shingles. If something looks out of place, get a professional to inspect or make repairs.
- Secure outdoor furniture before a storm. This includes patio furniture, grills, kids swing sets, trampolines or toys, or any large item that might cause damage if the wind lifts it.
- Check your trees and shrubs regularly. Trim all overhanging limbs and remove dead branches that might fall on your home during a storm.
2. Water damage
If a pipe bursts in your home or an appliance leaks, shut off the water immediately. Doing so may save you hundreds on the cleanup and repairs.
Note: While standard home insurance may cover water damage from burst pipes, you need a flood insurance policy to address water damage from storm surges.
Steps to mitigate water damage
- Look into water sensors – they work! Place the sensors on and around pipes and appliances. They will alert you once a leak is detected so you can take action right away.
- Set up an automatic shutoff system. This will shut off the water supply once a problem is detected.
- Inspect all water supply lines, drain lines, toilets, sinks, tubs, and appliances regularly. Look for leaks, unblock clogged or slow-moving drains, and caulk around worn areas to prevent leaking.
- Watch out for snow and ice build-up on your roof and in your gutters. It can cause leaks, so if you see it, safely remove it.
- Check for water pooling around the foundation. Correct grading issues so that water flows away from your property.
- Inspect your gutters and downspouts for proper water flow. Clean them regularly to prevent blockages.
3. Fire and lightning damage
Fire and lightning can cause widespread, expensive damage. That’s why it’s so important to reduce fire risk wherever possible.
Steps to mitigate fire damage
- Create a fire evacuation and safety plan and review it with your family.
- Make sure smoke detectors are installed on each floor of the home and in utility rooms, rooms with fireplaces, rooms with appliances, and unoccupied areas in the home, such as basements and crawl spaces.
- Clean and test all smoke detectors twice a year.
- If you have an alarm system, make sure it is operating correctly.
- Inspect and clean the fireplace at least once a year to prevent build-ups that can lead to fires.
- Kitchen fires are very common, so remove clutter and flammable items in and around cooking appliances.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended, and always keep them far from flammable materials like paper and curtains.
- Maintain your electrical systems. Electrical fires are the common causes of fire, so inspect your outlets, all extension cords, surge protectors, and all cords to ensure there’s no fraying.
4. Slips and falls on your property
When guests and visitors are hurt on your property, or if you cause their property damage, you can be held responsible for their expenses. If their injuries or damages are severe enough, you may have to draw on your home insurance liability coverage to foot the bill.
Steps to mitigate your liability
- Limit access to your property.
- Maintain gates and fences to deter trespassing.
- Remove trip and burn hazards in and around your house.
- Make sure all stairs and steps have secure handrails.
- Replace rotted or warped steps and deck boards.
- Remove protruding nails and other cut hazards in and around the house.
- Keep walkways and driveways clear of snow, ice, and other obstacles.
- Make sure pools, swing sets, and trampolines are secured, fenced, and have signage to ward off trespassers.
Though you can’t control the actions of others, you can take steps to make your home less attractive for would-be thieves.
Steps to mitigate theft
- Keep your home’s exterior doors and windows locked.
- Don’t leave your car unlocked, even when you’re at home.
- Never leave keys or a garage door opener in an unlocked car.
- Consider installing a home security system, such as security cameras, smart doorbells, motion-activated exterior lighting, and interior motion sensors.
Note: If you are considering higher-end security or safety upgrades to reduce your homeowners insurance costs, check with your insurer first to make sure it’s eligible for a discount.
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