Home insurance is a necessary purchase for virtually all homeowners, however, it is also a product that no one ever wants to have to use.
Understanding some of the most common types of insurance claims filed by homeowners can help you take steps to reduce the risk of damage to your property.
Cause of Loss: Water Damage
In recent years, water damage surpassed fire as the costliest loss category in personal insurance. Water damage can arise from many sources including leaks or bursts from pipes, clogging of drains, appliance (dishwasher, washing machine) failures, as well as damage from external water or overland flood.
Prevention Tips: Despite being one of the most common causes of loss, water damage is also one of the most preventable sources of damage to homes. Routine maintenance is highly effective at mitigation of water damage.
- Inspect drains and unclog them (especially in your shower).
- If you detect a leaking pipe have it repaired, don’t just put a bucket under it.
- Ensure your landscaping is maintained to ensure proper drainage away from your home.
- Clean eaves and ensure downspouts extend at least 6’ from your foundation.
- Use a stainless steel braided hose with your washing machine and inspect it often.
- Consider replacing your water heater when it reaches 10-12 years of age, and better yet looking into a new style tank-less water heater.
- If you’ll be away from your home during the heating season, turn off your water, have your home checked daily to ensure heat is maintained or consider a change in temperature sensor with your alarm system. (Your home insurance may even require these steps to maintain your coverage.)
Cause of Loss: Weather – Wind & Hail
With storm activity on the rise, wind and hail losses have increased substantially from 20 years ago. Hail and even wind can create a lot of damage to both your home and yard. The damage can either be caused directly by wind and hail, or from wind driving objects into your home.
Prevention Tips: While we can’t control the weather, we can prepare our property to better withstand the effects of the weather.
- Keep your roof material (ie: shingles) in good repair and replace them when they are wearing out. Doing so will ensure the are able to better withstand wind and hail, and keep water out of your dwelling during a storm.
- Remove unhealthy or dead trees and vegetation from around your home as they can become projectiles in a windstorm that cause a lot of damage.
- If a storm is coming, secure play structures, garden equipment, patio furniture any anything else in your yard that may be moved by a windstorm.
Cause of Loss: Sewer Back Up
Sewer back ups have been happening for as long as we’ve had municipal plumbing, however, they have increased in frequency and severity in recent years. As more basements have been used for living space (home theatres, home gyms, guest bedrooms) the damage from a sewer back up event has become more significant.
Prevention Tips: Some sewer back ups occur as a result of storms, or water/sewer construction around our homes. Many sewer back ups however are avoidable and the result of activities within our home.
- Consider installing a back water valve. The new style flapper valves connected to your mainline are considered the most effective preventative measures. If you’re finishing your basement or re-doing your basement this would be a great addition to your project.
- If your home is equipped with a sump pump and pit, keep it clean and in good working order. Consider installing a back up power source such as a generator or a battery.
- Avoid pouring grease and fatty substances down your drain to prevent hardening and clogging.
Cause of Loss: Fire
When we buy home insurance many of us think primarily of fire. While fire losses have become less frequent in recent years, they remain one of the most devastating. Burning and the resulting smoke damage can quickly cause damage to an entire home and its contents.
Prevention Tips: Fires commonly arise from electrical problems and less commonly arise from natural causes such as forest fire or lightning.
- New shingles in good repair can withstand falling sparks and embers, and help prevent ignition.
- Keeping debris and clutter away from your home’s exterior, as well as clearing dead or dry vegetation can help prevent fires.
- Ensuring that electrical outlets are not over-loaded and avoid placing excessive electric burdens on any one outlet.
- Inspect power cords for heating, blackening or any signs of deterioration.
- If your home has older wiring (aluminium, knob and tube, etc) it’s advisable to have an electrician inspect the system and make recommendations for safe operation or replacement.
Cause of Loss: Theft & Vandalism
Theft and vandalism are a leading causes of loss to property and leave homeowners feeling violated and unsafe. While we can’t control the actions of thieves or vandals, we can take steps to make our homes less likely targets.
- Install a monitored alarm system, including a warning signal such as a horn. Make sure that there are decals on the outside of your home identifying your system to deter those who may seek to enter the home illegally.
- Install motion activated flood lights outside your home and if possible, one on each side or corner of your house to provide all around protection.
- Install deadbolts on all exterior doors to augment regular thumb or door handle locks.
- Keep your yard debris free and neat, ensuring the home looks occupied.
- If you’re going to be away from your home, consider leaving some lights on or use an app on your phone to turn lights on periodically.
Home insurance is a necessary purchase, but remains a product no one ever wants to find themselves having to make use of. Understanding sources of loss, can help you prevent damage to your home.