Avoiding common home insurance claims

Many of life’s unexpected events can be anticipated — and even avoided — as long as you know what to look out for. Let’s walk through some tips to help you steer clear of costly and inconvenient insurance claims.

Water

Water damage is the leading cause of home insurance claims, making up about half of all Economical 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
  • 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
  • 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 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

Fire

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
  • 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
  • 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

Theft

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 neighbor 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 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)

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.

This tip comes from Economical’s Blog.