Home insurance can provide protection for your home, belongings, and the people inside. But are you fully protected against the most common problems you might encounter? Let’s take a look at some of the most common home insurance claims, so you can ensure your homeowners’ policy is offering you the right coverage in the case of an incident.
Common Homeowners Insurance Claims
1. Wind and hail
Wind and hail are the most common claims home insurers see, especially in the northeast. Windstorms and hailstorms are hard to prevent, even if you maintain your home regularly. Wind and hail can knock trees into your house, pull off your siding, destroy your roof, and blow in your windows. Tornadoes and hurricanes can also cause severe damage to the structure of your home, which can displace your family and put a serious dent in your wallet.
Your homeowners’ insurance will usually cover wind and hail. However, you may need a separate policy or additional coverage if you live in certain areas, like Tornado Alley or along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s critical you talk to your insurance agent about your home insurance coverage for wind and hail, because no one—no matter where you live—is immune to wind damage.
You can review the coverage your homeowners insurance policy offers with one of our insurance advisors at (844) 300-3237.
2. Water damage
Water damage caused by plumbing failures is a common household problem, especially during cold weather months. Low temperatures can cause water in the pipes to freeze, which can cause the pipes to burst or leak. Even a small leak can result in major water damage to the structure and contents of your home.
How can you prevent frozen pipes?
- Line your pipes with insulation.
- Allow faucets to drip slowly to keep water running and moving, which helps prevent freezing.
- Have pipes professionally inspected before every winter to check for leaks or weak spots.
- Keep your home heated and warm. Learn how to heat your home here.
Most home insurance policies cover accidental water damage, plumbing failures, and rainwater. However, they don’t usually cover incidents caused by neglect. For example, you don’t remove hair from the drain and the overflow causes a leak, or you leave the sink running and it damages the floor.
Theft happens everywhere, no matter how safe the town. Whether it’s burglars looking to fund their lives or kids looking for a thrill, any breach of security in your home can be frightening and unnerving—not to mention the cost of the stolen items.
Most homeowners insurance policies will cover theft. You need to ensure your contents coverage remains updated, though, to get paid the correct amount for your claim.
For example, let’s say your jewelry is worth $5,000. For Christmas, you receive a necklace worth $3,000, but you forget to tell your insurance company to include it on your contents coverage. If all of your jewelry is stolen, the insurance company will only pay the agreed upon $5,000, since they don’t have proof of the $3,000 necklace. So it’s important to keep your contents coverage updated.
How can you try to prevent theft?
- Invest in a home security system. Keep it working properly and attached to emergency services. Turn it on whenever you leave the home, when you’re sleeping, or whenever you want additional protection.
- Display a sign for your security system in the yard to deter burglars.
- Have a friend or trusted neighbor keep an eye on your house while traveling. Make sure they collect your mail and newspapers, because a pile up can signal burglars that no one is home.
- Have a smart lighting system that turns lights on at different intervals. This keeps your house lit while you’re not home, which can deter burglars from coming in.
- Install security cameras around the home to watch any unwelcome visitors.
- Don’t hide a spare key outside. It’s easier to find than you might think it is.
- Secure doors and locks whenever you’re not home.
- Check out this guide to insuring valuables here.
4. Fire and lightning
Fire isn’t that common, but it’s one of the most expensive claims you’ll run into. Fires can ruin an entire room or house, which requires both structural repair and replacement of all contents. Plus, a fire usually means moving out and temporarily living somewhere else, which falls under “loss of use” coverage and can be another major expense.
What can you do to lower your risk of a fire?
- Have a lightning rod on the top of your house that directs lightning to minimize damage.
- Be alert of fire risks in your home, like extension cords, space heaters, and hot plates. Don’t leave these on when not home.
- Regularly inspect and clean your chimney.
- Blow out candles and unplug running electronics when you leave the house.
- Keep your stove clean to prevent grease fires.
- Be aware of Christmas lights and dry Christmas trees.
- See our home fire safety list here.
Flood is an incredibly common occurrence, even in mild and moderate flood zones. “Flood” refers to any water that touches the ground before impacting your home. So this could come from floods on the road, breaks in the communal main pipe, or an overflowing body of water nearby.
Most homeowners’ coverage does not include flood insurance. But we recommend that everyone consider flood insurance, no matter where you live. With unpredictable weather and broken pipes, it’s definitely worth investing in flood insurance to keep your home protected.
Check out our flood insurance resources here:
- High Risk Flood Insurance Guide
- 11 Questions To Ask Your Agent About Flood Insurance
- Essential Reading For Flood Season
6. Personal liability
Personal liability claims are surprisingly common. A single liability lawsuit can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which can land you in a serious financial hole. Ensuring you have adequate liability coverage is critical to safeguarding your family and assets in the case of an accident on your property.
Personal liability refers to a situation where you are found at-fault for the injury or property damage of another party. For example, a deliveryman slips on your icy front porch, a friend falls down your stairs, or a neighborhood kid breaks his wrist on your trampoline. It could also refer to any damage you cause to another person’s property, like your son throwing a baseball through a neighbor’s window or your dog peeing on a friend’s carpet. It also applies to dog bites, libel, slander, and other instances where you cause damage to another person.
Keep in mind that personal liability applies to anyone hurt on your property—even if they are an unwelcome guest. So if you’re on vacation and the neighborhood kids throw a secret party in your home, you are still responsible. So you’ll want to deter unwelcome visitors with fences and alarms.
You also want to keep your home well maintained. Focus especially on sidewalks, stairs, and railings, which is where the most falls occur. In bad weather, make sure you keep your pathways as clean and clear as possible, particularly free from ice.
There are other instances that put you at risk for damaging another person. For example, if you play sports that could hurt someone, you volunteer at a nonprofit, or you own certain breeds of dogs.
Homeowners’ policies typically cover $100,000 in personal liability (both bodily injury and property damage). This usually isn’t enough, since a single lawsuit can easily cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars. We recommend also considering an umbrella policy, which adds extra liability coverage to your home and auto insurance.
The Bottom Line
These common homeowners insurance claims are varied, but luckily your coverage should extend to cover most if not all of these risks, especially if you’ve worked with an insurance agent to address any necessary additional coverages. Are you prepared for the most common home insurance claims? Review your policy to ensure that your limits provide you with adequate coverage and give yourself a refresh on what’s included or excluded. Understanding what your policy covers and how it offers coverage is the best way to protect yourself financially from the impact of claims.
Find the right homeowners insurance coverage with the right limits—at the right cost with one of our insurance advisors.
Call us today at (844) 300-3237!
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