Simple ways to avoid common home insurance claims
Insurance of any sort is an odd product when you think about it – people buy it and hope they never use it… sort of like a snake bit kit: better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
From preserving your claims-free discounts to just not wanting to endure the hassles that come with major repairs to your home, or the trauma of a motor vehicle accident, there are lots of personal reasons why people want to avoid making an insurance claim.
When it come to your home insurance, there are some fairly simple steps you can take to avoid having to make a claim.
Water damage accounts for roughly half of the home insurance claims made in Canada in any given year. Sometimes the cause is a heavy rainfall. Other times it can be a backed up sewer system, a broken pipe or rapid Spring thaw. Whatever the case, it all ends up a mess when it comes to rest in your basement. If you’d prefer to improve your odds against having to make a water damage claim, consider the following:
- Don’t flush bacon grease and other oily substances down the sink or in your toilet – they can build up over time and create blockages that can lead to sewer backups
- Make sure your sump pump is in good working order and consider getting a back-up battery in case your power goes out
- If you don’t already have one, install a backwater valve to help prevent sewer backups
- Turn off your home’s water supply and drain your indoor pipes to prevent them from freezing and bursting if you’re planning to be away for a while in the winter
- Clean out your eavestroughs at least once a year and repair any leaky areas. Fall is the best time for this.
- Make sure there’s nothing blocking your downspouts, and angle them at least six feet away from your house
- Inspect your roof annually and repair or replace damaged shingles or worn-out skylight seams
- Keep an eye out for icicles hanging from your roof, as icicles can be a telltale sign that an ice dam has formed, which may allow water to enter your home and may be causing damage to your roof
- Seal any cracks in your home’s foundation and basement floors before the next spring thaw or a heavy downpour – if it’s leaked before, it’s likely to leak again
- Store valuable or irreplaceable items in a dry, elevated place
Hail and wind
Damage caused by hail and the wind comes in a close second behind water for household insurance claims. When it comes to wind-related damage, the wind itself is only partially to blame. It’s the objects that are picked up and tossed around your property that can be a serious problem. Here are a few ways to keep those pesky hail and wind risks at bay:
- Safely secure or store any patio furniture, planters, or outdoor tools that could be damaged by the hail or moved by the wind
- Inspect your roof at least once a year, and have any missing or damaged shingles replaced by a professional roofing contractor
- Keep your trees and shrubs trimmed, and be sure to remove any loose or dead branches that could become airborne in a storm and break through a window
- Avoid personal injury by staying indoors and keeping kids and pets away from glass windows and doors that could be shattered or broken in by flying debris
While still fairly common, fire is one of the most preventable causes of home insurance claims. To keep your home fire-free, don’t forget to:
- Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home and test them each month
- Extinguish candles or other open flames before leaving the room
- Avoid kitchen fires by rolling up your sleeves, placing lids on bubbling pans, and turning pot handles away from curious kids and pets
- Learn how to safely extinguish a kitchen fire beforeone happens
- Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional every year
- Keep your fireplace safe: open the damper before lighting it and keep the flue open – and always use a fireplace screen to keep your floors free of embers If you smoke, take it outside and park your butts in a can of water or sand
- If you have a wood stove or pellet stove, take the necessary precautions to keep it in good working order
- Keep a home fire extinguisher on hand and make sure you follow the maintenance guidelines so it’s in good working order if you ever need it
- Always hire a properly licensed professional for electrical work in your home
- Clean out the lint trap of your dryer thoroughly after each use and vacuum inside and around where the lint trap is installed once a month
- Have a metal container with a lid on hand for cigarette butts – cigarette butts that fall through a crack on a wooden deck could ignite any dry plant material underneath
- If you’re painting, always make sure to dispose of paint or solvent soaked rags by following the manufacturer’s directions as these rags are known to self-combust
Having your personal belongings stolen from your home or property is just that – it’s personal. Not only can it be tough on your emotions, but it can also be difficult or even impossible to replace what has been taken – especially sentimental, one-of-a-kind, or antique items. The good news is there are several low-effort, no-cost steps you can take to deter theft:
- Lock all windows and doors when you leave the house, whether you plan to be gone for an hour or a week. Don’t forget your garage and/or your shed
- Keep family travel plans private – sharing your excitement (before or during your trip) with friends on Facebook can tip off potential burglars
- When travelling, leave your spare key with a trusted neighbour instead of hiding it under the doormat or elsewhere on your property – thieves know what to look for and they’ll find the key quicker than you’d think
- Consider installing a self-monitored or company-monitored security system to monitor your home while you’re away. It could even get you a discount on your home insurance policy)
- When you buy an expensive item like a new big screen TV or BBQ, don’t throw the box with all the labelling out with your regular recyclable waste – instead, remove identifying labels and put leftovers in garbage bags so you don’t advertise your new purchase to thieves
- Keep your bicycle secure even when it’s in your back yard
- Take a look at some more ways to increase your home’s security and be sure to check these items off your to-do list when you’re planning a vacation
They say the best way to predict the future is to create it. When it comes to home insurance claims, there is a lot that you can do to stop damage from happening in the first place. Although it may not be possible to avoid damage in every situation, you can certainly play a big role in keeping it to a minimum.
A broker or CSR with DPM Insurance Group can help you choose the right home insurance for your family, and they’ll be there for you if you need to make a claim.
Source: Economical Insurance