Most of the time, when you buy something, you intend to use it. You purchase a car because you need to drive it to work every day, you buy that grill because you want to treat the family to hamburgers every weekend and so on. Insurance is the exception. When you purchase a homeowners insurance policy, you hope never to have to use it.
To help you achieve this goal, here are some of the most common homeowners insurance claims, with tips on preventing them.
1. Weather Incidents
The weather is out of your control, but there are steps you can take to prevent damage to your house during storms – without moving to a milder climate.
Water expands when it freezes, so pipes are at risk of bursting during cold weather. Pipes that are exposed to the cold weather – for example, those along outer walls or in unheated parts of the house – have a greater risk. To keep your pipes safe, let the faucets drip during freezing temperatures. Also consider installing a pipe insulation product. For more tips, see what the Red Cross says about preventing frozen pipes.
Ice dams can do major damage to your gutters and roof. They typically form when heat from an attic melts snow on the roof, which then flows and refreezes. To prevent ice dams, it’s important to reduce the heat that causes the snow to melt. Improved ventilation can also help. To learn more, see what the Spruce has to say about how to beat ice dams.
2. Plumbing Issues
Not all plumbing problems are caused by bad weather.
Maintenance is key to preventing major plumbing issues. When a faucet is leaking or a clog is drained, get on top of the problem before it gets worse. And although a DIY attitude can be admirable, don’t let yourself get in over your head. Sometimes, it’s best to call in the help of a professional.
To avoid or minimize water damage from non-natural events, place a water sensor and alarm near appliances that use water. Many systems can automatically shut off the water to your house if a leak is detected, preventing major losses.
Fires can lead to especially severe claims. Protect your home by doing the following:
- Keep a close eye on your kitchen when you are cooking. According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking equipment is the leading cause of house fires.
- If you use a space heater, don’t use extension cords, keep it upright on a flat, stable surface and keep flammable material at least three feet away from the heater.
- Don’t leave candles burning unattended.
- Don’t smoke while drowsy, and always dispose of cigarette butts responsibly.
- Make sure your fire alarms and fire extinguishers are working properly.
For more tips on preventing house fires, as well as what to do if one occurs, visit the Ready.gov page on home fires.
FBI data shows that 1,515,096 burglaries occurred in 2016, resulting in $3.6 billion in property losses. More than two-thirds of these burglaries occurred at residential properties.
To reduce your chance of becoming a burglar’s next target, do the following:
- Remember to lock your doors and windows.
- Secure sliding glass doors, which are often easy to open without a key.
- Install good exterior lights.
- Don’t tell burglars you’re gone. Avoid announcing that you’re on vacation on social media. Have someone pick up your mail, or put a hold on it at the post office.
To learn more, check out Life Hacker’s advice on securing your home or Home Advisor’s tips on safeguarding your home. While you’re at it, take a moment to think about your homeowners insurance. If you haven’t updated your policy in the last year, contact your Higginbotham agent for a review.