It’s important to have a comprehensive insurance policy for your home—after all, your home is perhaps the single biggest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime. The last thing you want is to be caught short in the event of fire, flood, natural disaster, or theft so you ensure your coverage is up-to-date and solid. Makes a lot of sense, right? But what a lot of people don’t think about is that an insurance policy is only good for what happens after tragedy strikes. If you could avoid having to file a claim in the first place, wouldn’t that be a far better outcome?
Let’s take a look at a few common homeowner claims and what you can do to prevent them.
Second to wind and hail, flooding and water damage are the most common claims on a homeowner’s policy. It might surprise you to know that flooding due to weather actually represents a very small percentage of water damage claims. The vast majority, it turns out, is due to maintenance issues like burst pipes, broken hot water heaters, and supply line failures. What to do? Like the Boy Scouts say: be prepared!
- Know how to shut the water off in your home. When a plumbing disaster strikes, you don’t want to waste precious time looking for the water shutoff!
- Install a water flow leak sensor with an automatic shutoff valve. For around $80 (installed), you can prevent hundreds—perhaps thousands—of dollars of water damage in your home. There are basically two types: whole home sensors and appliance-specific sensors. Both work by detecting leaks and automatically cutting off the water flow.
- Inspect and replace washing machine supply and drain lines regularly. If your washing machine has rubber hoses, it’s recommended you replace them about every five years. Alternatively, you might consider replacing rubber with stainless steel braided hoses—far more durable and resist dry rot.
- If you move the refrigerator to clean behind it, be very careful. Pulling the refrigerator out too far can break the water line for the icemaker; pushing it back too far or too quickly can also cause damage.
- Make a regular habit of checking under your sinks—kitchen, bathroom, and utility room—to make sure there are no leaks in the supply lines or drain pipe.
Years of memories and tens of thousands of dollars can be destroyed quickly and permanently in a house fire. Even a minor fire can cause a lot of smoke and water damage. Here are a few simple steps to help minimize the likelihood of fire in your home.
- Be sure there is an ABC fire extinguisher close at hand in the kitchen, laundry room, attic, and garage. If you want to go the extra step, put an extinguisher in or near every room of your home. Check the pressure gauge and inspect the extinguisher(s) monthly.
- Clean the lint trap on your dryer after every load. According to FEMA, failure to clean the lint trap accounts for 34% of the nearly 3,000 dryer fires that occur every year in the US.
- Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home—including the attic—and ensure that the batteries are changed twice a year (a good rule of thumb is to change the batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings).
- Never store flammable liquids like gasoline or kerosene near a heat source.
- When using space heaters, ensure there is at least three feet of clearance around the heater and the nearest object. Never leave a space heater unattended.
There are few things that leave you feeling more violated than theft from your home. In addition to the loss of valuables, you also lose the sense of security and peace of mind that make your home your castle. As with water damage and fire prevention, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent theft.
- Install a home security system. The presence of a security company’s sign in your yard or on your door will do a lot to deter a thief.
- Get a dog. Seriously. If you’re a pet lover and don’t mind a furry friend in the house, a dog is a great deterrent. Barking dogs, like security alarms, draw unwanted attention to the would-be thief prowling for an easy target.
- Use light timers. Having lights go on and off at irregular intervals can provide the illusion that you’re actually home—even if you’re not.
- Have your mail and newspapers held or collected by a neighbor if you’ll be out of town for longer than a day or two. Piled up papers and mail telegraph to the world that you’re not around—and that your home is vulnerable.
- Keep your firearms in a safe and keep it locked. If you’re a gun owner, the last thing you want is for your guns to be stolen, especially given the very good chance that your stolen weapons could be used in the commission of another crime.
- Lock your doors. Even if you live in a small town and a good neighborhood, not everyone who comes down your street is a good neighbor. Lock your doors at night and whenever you leave the house.
- Trim bushes and hedges back from your windows. Shrubbery growing close to windows and doors provides easy cover for a thief, so make sure to keep your greenery in check.
Remember: The best insurance claim is the one you can prevent from having to file in the first place. Did you think of a good idea for preventing water damage, fire, or theft in your home? Please share it in the comments, and thanks for reading our blog!