Simple ways to avoid the most common home insurance claims
At DPM Insurance Group, our brokers and CSR staff make it their mission to ensure you have the best possible coverage to protect your investments. And while we’re here to support you should you ever need to make a claim, we know that many of life’s unexpected events can be anticipated, or even avoided, as long as you know what to look out for.
Here are some tips courtesy of Economical, one of DPM Insurance Group’s underwriter partners, to help you avoid costly and inconvenient insurance claims.
Water damage is the leading cause of home insurance claims. Economical, says it accounts for about half of all its claims across the country. Whether the culprit is a backed-up sewer, broken or burst pipes, heavy rain, or the spring thaw, water seems to make its way into even the smallest nooks and crannies – and it sure can make a mess.
To prevent hefty water damage claims, keep these tips in mind:
- Keep your pipes clog-free and running smoothly by throwing bacon grease and other oily substances in the compost instead of down the drain – over time, they can build up and create blockages that can lead to sewer backups
- Make sure your sump pump is in good working order (or consider installing a sump pump if you don’t already have one), and consider getting a back-up battery in case your power goes out
- Consider installing a backwater valve to help prevent sewer backups
- Clean out your eavestroughs at least once a year and repair any leaky areas.
- Make sure there’s nothing blocking your downspouts, and angle them at least six feet away from your house (consider adding extensions if your downspouts are too short)
- 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
- Take a look at even more ways to prevent flood damage in your home
Did you know that not all home insurance policies come with coverage for damage caused by sewer backups or water that enters your home from other external sources? Learn more about flood insurance and contact us to find out what’s covered by your own policy.
Hail and wind
Damage caused by hail (and the wind that goes along with it) is the first runner up. 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 tend to be the 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
Although 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 (and while you’re at it, make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors, too)
- 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 before one 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
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 (and don’t forget your garage and garden shed)
- Keep family travel plans on the down-low — sharing your excitement (before and during your trip) with friends on Facebook, for example, 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 (this does come at a cost, but it’s an investment that is well worth it in the long run — and it could even get you a discount on your home insurance policy)
- 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
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.
DPM Insurance Group’s brokers and CSR can help you choose the right home insurance for your family, and they’ll be there for you when you need to make a claim.