Home insurance lets property owners sleep better at night, knowing they’re covered if the unexpected happens. But ideally, you want to avoid insurance claims altogether, as they can raise your rates and require you to pay a deductible out of your own pocket. Here are some expert tips to minimize the likelihood of home insurance claims.
Reduce the Risk of Fire Damage and Loss
Every year, thousands of homes are lost to fire. In many cases, these tragedies were avoidable. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of fire, such as:
- Install smoke alarms, test them regularly, and replace batteries as needed.
- Have your chimney cleaned regularly.
- Make sure your electrical panel (AKA circuit breaker) and wiring are up to date.
- Be extra careful using candles and don’t leave them lit when you’re not in the room.
- Don’t smoke inside the house or on a balcony or porch — key areas where home fires often start.
- Pay attention when cooking, and keep the stove free of things that could catch fire.
- Keep an all-purpose home fire extinguisher handy.
Keep Your Roof in Good Shape
Roof damage is another common cause of home insurance claims. While you can’t control those Missouri hailstorms that come out of nowhere, you can be proactive about maintaining your roof.
Inspect your roof regularly after storms and changes of season. Replace loose shingles and flashing right away. Repair gutters and downspouts as needed, taking care to clean them out after the leaves fall in autumn.
Trim landscaping around the house so shrubbery and tree branches don’t touch the roof anywhere. Watch out for ice damming in winter, where melting snow on the roof can refreeze and cause roof damage as well as internal water damage.
Stay on Top of Plumbing Problems
Little leaks can quickly become big plumbing issues, so tend to old pipes and holes in water heaters before they cost you money and heartache. Signs that you have a leak, in addition to noticing one visibly, include:
- Growth of mold or mildew, as well as musty smells
- Hearing water dripping
- Stains on ceilings, walls, and floors
- Excessively high water bill
- Low water pressure
- Water ponding in the yard
If you’re concerned about leaks, you can ask your plumber to install a leak detection system that will alert you if anything is out of the ordinary with your water flow. In many cases, these devices will also shut off water before damage is done.
Never turn your heat below 55 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, even if you’re not going to be home. Cold temperatures in the house can cause pipes to freeze and burst.
Consider Your Property’s Security
Homeowners also file claims due to vandalism and theft. If a whole-house security system isn’t possible for you, take steps to make your property as secure as possible. Remove landscaping around the home that could hide intruders.
Use lights on a timer when you’re not around to make it look like someone is home. When going away for more than a day or two, find a house sitter to stay in the property.
Invest in good door and window locks. Consider a doorbell camera and/or smart lock for the front entrance, so you can better monitor who’s coming and going. These can easily be controlled and viewed from your mobile phone.
Fix Hazards to Avoid Liability Issues
Another cause of home insurance claims — one that’s often overlooked — is liability for accidents and injuries. Whether a delivery person trips on a loose front step or a visitor falls because of a shaky handrail, your homeowner policy could be on the hook for their medical bills and other damages.
Be aware that your home insurance provides a certain level of liability coverage. We recommend most people add an umbrella policy that could be activated once your liability cap has been reached.
If you’re not sure where vulnerabilities lie, a professional can inspect your home and point out areas in need of repair. There are people who do this as a career for the elderly and the disabled, and they’re very good at finding things you might miss, like slip and fall hazards.
Need help finding the right home insurance coverage? Not sure how much protection you should get? Call Clayton Hanley Insurance at 314-487-2921 today, or get in touch online to let us know how we can help.