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Top 5 Reasons for Home Claims

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No homeowner buys insurance hoping they will need to file a claim, but accidents do happen. If your dishwasher hose leaks all over the kitchen flooring or a stray baseball breaks a window, you may be reluctant to open a claim because you want to avoid a premium increase. This is a common fear.

However, since the whole point of buying an insurance policy is to protect you financially by covering the structure of your home and the belongings inside it, you should use your policy when it makes sense to. In other words, if the cost of the damage repair or property replacement is higher than your deductible limit, go ahead and file a claim.

That said, there are steps you can take to prevent accidents in the home. Performing routine maintenance on pipes and appliances will go a long way to preventing the most common reasons for home claims.

Below, we outline the top 5 reasons you may need to file a home claim and, more importantly, offer suggestions on how to prevent them.

 

1. Wind

Making up almost 40 percent of all homeowners claims in the US, the top reason to file a claim is from wind damage. If your home is in the path of a hurricane or tornado, there’s not much you can do about that — even if you have “battened down the hatches.” But it’s still a good idea to try to mitigate the damage as much as you can.

For less severe storms, if you’ve done prep work on your house and property, you’ll be in much better shape when things start to shake and rattle.

Preventive measures:

  • Inspect any trees on or near your property for weak limbs or trunks and have them trimmed.
  • Regularly maintain your roof. Remove debris and don’t delay in replacing loose shingles.
  • Put outdoor objects, such as patio furniture, inside during windstorms to prevent it from being blown around, as it could break a window or injure someone.
  • Check that all doors and windows are securely fitted and can lock properly.
 

2. Domestic water damage

The second most common claim is water damage that originates in the property (as opposed to weather-related damage). We use water in so many ways at home – in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room…which means there are so many avenues for leaks and spills. The good news is there are just as many ways to avoid water damage.

Preventive measures:

  • Install an automatic water shut-off valve in case you’re not home when trouble begins.
  • Repair any dripping or cracked pipes.
  • Maintain your big appliances, such as the fridge and washing machine. Pay close attention to the hoses, which can get dry and brittle as they age.
  • Check seals and caulking around showers and tubs and reseal when necessary.
  • Avoid pouring sticky, greasy, or thick substances down sink drains, which could block the pipes.
  • Replace angle-stop valves and toilet or faucet braided supply lines every 5-10 years.
  • Check the water pressure to ensure it’s within a suitable range (45-65psi). Pressure above this range could put stress on your pipes and fixtures, damaging their integrity.
  • Invest in a water-leak sensor. This smart device will alert you when moisture’s present from a slow leak way before you would detect it yourself.
 

3. Hailstorms

Hailstones are often confused with sleet but are much more lethal. These balls of hard, frozen water — which can grow up to 6 or 7 inches in diameter — occur with severe thunderstorms. Hailstorms can be deadly to people and animals and can cause extensive damage to vehicles, equipment, and property.

With advance warning of a storm, you can take steps to protect your family, pets, livestock, and vehicles. But there’s not much you can do to fully protect the structure of your home. If you live in an area where hailstorms are common, the following suggestions can help minimize the damage.

Preventive measures:

  • Regular roof maintenance is even more important to withstand the onslaught of hailstorms. What’s more, expect to replace your roof more frequently than the typical 20 years as it’s taking a beating with every storm.
  • Impact-resistant roofing made with materials like concrete tile, modified asphalt, slate, or metal will go a long way to standing up to bombardments of hail. Your roof will last longer…and you may get a discount on your premium for a hail-resistant roof.
  • Invest in siding made with durable material, such as fiber cement, to protect the rest of your house.
  • Keep mounted equipment (like a satellite dish) on your roof covered to protect it.
 

4. Theft

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that a burglary occurs every 22.6 seconds in the U.S. The first step is to make sure your home insurance policy provides adequate protection against break-ins and theft. Then, learn how to foil would-be burglars by securing your home using the pointers below.

Preventive measures:

  • Regularly check that the knobs and locks on doors and windows work.
  • Add deadbolts to all outside doors.
  • Lock your doors and windows at night, or when you’re away from home.
  • Install motion-sensing lights outside and turn them on at night.
  • While you're away, make it look like someone is home by asking a trusted neighbor or friend to pick up mail and put out trash.
  • Don’t hide a spare key outside. The convenience isn’t worth the risk that a burglar will find it.
  • Install a security system with an alarm to scare burglars away and notify you and the police if someone enters your property.
  • Keep an inventory of all your belongings, along with their value, in case the worst happens, and you are burglarized.
 

5. Weather-related water

If you live on a flood plain, you’ll need to buy flood insurance separately as this coverage is not typically included in a homeowners policy. However, if water from an external source, such as a storm, damages your roof, it will be covered. But if your roof leaks from that same storm due to lack of maintenance, you won’t be able to file a claim.

Preventive measures:

  • Repair and replace shingles and tiles on your roof to and prevent water and moisture from breaching your home during a storm.
  • Make sure your flashing is in good condition to prevent water from penetrating the roof.
  • Check for leaks in your gutters and downspouts.
  • Clear your gutters of leaves, pine needles and other debris that can clog your gutters during a rainstorm.
  • Ensure that water drains away from your home’s foundation. Consider installing extension pipes to control the flow of water.

Once you’ve taken all the precautions possible to shore up your home’s defenses, you should be in good shape and hopefully won’t need to ever file an insurance claim. The next step on your list – and one that can reduce your premiums — is to apply insurance discounts. Give Wawanesa a call and ask one of our helpful agents to take a look at your policy to make sure you’re getting all the discounts you qualify for.

 

 

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Disclaimer:

The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.