Help Prevent Insurance Claims
In a perfect world, no one would have to file a homeowner’s insurance claim. But the reality is that damage can happen, whether hail, high water or the neighbor boy’s fastball. Follow these tips to help protect yourself and your home from unfortunate surprises.
Of course, you can’t prevent wind, hail and inclement weather. However, these steps can help minimize damage:
- Make sure your roof is in good repair and does not have loose tiles or shingles.
- Keep trees, shrubs and landscaping trimmed. Ideally, a tree should be placed farther away from the home than the height of the tree when fully grown.
- Remove outdoor items that could become flying projectiles. Something as simple as a trashcan or bicycle can become an airborne missile in a storm. During storm warnings, bring in items that could be picked up and blown.
- If needed, reinforce susceptible areas like garage doors and windows.
Often, there is no warning before a major water mishap occurs. If a pipe bursts or an appliance leaks while you are away, serious damage can occur. Protect your home by the following actions:
- Know where the main water supply is located so you can shut it off in case of emergency.
- When you are away, shut off the water supply and drain the pipes. However, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, do not turn off the water to this system, and maintain sufficient heat to prevent freezing.
- Consider having your air conditioning system inspected regularly by a professional. Check the drain lines annually, and clean them if they are clogged.
- Inspect water heaters, washing machines and dishwashers annually, and have them repaired if there are any signs of leaks or corrosion.
- Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilets, and make repairs as needed.
- Regularly inspect water pipes for cracks and leaks. Fix damaged pipes immediately to prevent more costly repairs later.
- Don’t forget appliance hoses and plumbing fittings. Look for breakage, crimping or bending.
- In freezing weather, make sure your pipes are insulated properly.
Fires are often caused by appliance misuse or failure, electrical problems, including wiring or outlet issues, and cooking. While it may be impossible to prevent all fires, do:
- Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and other sleeping areas and otherwise as may be required by local ordinance.
- Test smoke alarms every month. If they are not working, change the batteries.
- Don’t overload electrical circuits and systems.
- Regularly check wiring on appliances. Do not use if damaged.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
- Consider installing a fire sprinkler system.
- Outside, keep vegetation and trees trimmed and away from your home.
Home theft is another unfortunate cause of property loss claims. Consider making your home less attractive to thieves with these tips:
- Add outdoor lighting and motion sensors.
- Use landscaping that does not offer protection from detection.
- Make your home appear occupied while you are away. Use lights set on a timer, and do not let mail pile up.
- Consider installing a smart home alarm system.
If a loss does happen:
- Know how to contact your agent or insurance carrier. Many carriers have 24-hour claims hotlines to report a claim.
- Take steps to minimize further damage, such as shutting off water valves or removing furniture that has gotten wet.
- Document the damage with photos and/or video.
- Work with your agent, adjuster and home repair professionals to get your home restored.
Looking for a new home? One of our New Home Specialists would be happy to walk you through every step.