The Most Common Homeowners Claims

Often the first step in finding the right homeowners coverage is to think about common homeowners claims that might happen to you. While floods and forest fires are confined to certain regions, claims like animal bites, home accidents and falling trees happen everywhere. Below we’ve put together a list of common claims to think about before you get a new homeowners policy or revise your existing coverage.

Water Damage

Water damage is one of the most common homeowners claims around the country, and it can come from any side. Leaky roofs can send flowing water into the attic and walls of your home. Malfunctioning dishwasher and washer hoses can send water cascading onto the floor. In the winter, pipes can burst and ice dams can again leak water into your roof. Finally, heavy rains can flood basements and cause damage both to appliances and interiors.

The best way to fight a potential water damage claim is to have your appliances checked every few years. You’ll also want to have your roof looked at, especially after a violent storm. Don’t forget to clear the heavy snow that builds up on your roof in the winter. Protecting your home from flooding can be tricky, but the first step is usually installing a sump pump. More substantial measures like studying and correcting how water flows away from your home can be performed if a chronic flooding problem develops.

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Heavy storms can flood basements in a matter of minutes.

In Home Accidents

Visitors to your home can be a significant source of injury claims. Often it is trivial things like a loose rug or tripping hazard that can lead to a large claim. Icy sidewalks are common culprits as well. Even if someone is just delivering food or soliciting on your doorstep, a pricey homeowners claim can follow if there is an accident.

Keep your walks clear when the snow and ice strike, and don’t forget to shovel the sidewalk out in front of your house. Repair any loose or failing steps, and always ensure there is a safe walkway to your front door. Don’t forget to diagnose and correct tripping hazards and other dangers in your home. You may know about them, but if you don’t tell your guests, the hazard could be an expensive accident waiting to happen.

Animal Bites

The family dog is another source of other common homeowners claims. Dog bites are typically covered by your homeowners insurance policy, regardless of whether they occur on your property. Some dog bite claims can even become very expensive depending on the severity of the incident.

If you own a dog that has a history of biting others, make sure they cannot get out of your yard. It’s also a good idea to restrict the dog’s access to the front so there are no chance encounters with the mailman. Finally, if you don’t own a dog but want to get one in the future, check with your Square State agent before you adopt one. Certain dog breeds can actually raise the price of your policy, and it’s something to consider before you bring a new dog into your home.

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Man’s best friend usually poses no threat, but every year dog bite claims happen all over the country.

Broken Limbs and Falling Trees

Trees are the cause of thousands of common insurance claims every year. Whether it’s a strong spring storm or a winter blizzard, the trees in your yard can fall on your house, your neighbor’s house or cars in the street. Often, it’s not the tree itself but rather a heavy limb that falls off an otherwise healthy tree.

Regular trimming and monitoring the health of the trees on your property can help reduce the probability of a claim. If that old tree is dying in your yard, it’s time to remove it now. It may be expensive up front, but it is better than a claim down the line. Don’t be afraid to hire a professional to trim or remove a tree if it seems too intimidating for you.

Fire Damage

The frightening occurrence of a fire is another common homeowners claim that many face. A short in home wiring, malfunctioning appliances, and fireplaces can all cause unexpected fires in your home. While the cause of some fires cannot be avoided, there are some things you can do to reduce fire danger in your home. Use appliances carefully and never leave items like the stove unattended. Ensure your house’s wiring is up to code, and never overload an outlet with multiple power strips.

One key to selecting the right fire coverage is determining whether Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value is the better option for you. Replacement cost will provide the amount to replace the item(s) you lost if you bought them in a store today. Actual Cash Value on the other hand pays only what your items are worth today, and the value of used items never meets the cost of replacing them with new ones. Simply put, Replacement Cost is the better coverage option for most homeowners. It pays out more so you can properly replace everything you lost.

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Worker Claims

When you hire a contractor to perform work on your home, you may be liable for any injuries that occur when they are on your property. The first thing you should do in addressing this common claim is to ask the person performing work if they have workers comp insurance. Many companies will have insurance for their workers, and it will be part of the work agreement. However, many private contractors may not have their own insurance. It is up to you whether or not you want to take a risk in hiring them.

In cases where you’re having a lot of work performed on your property, you will want to check with your Square State agent before you start the project. They will help you evaluate potential risks in hiring workers and suggest coverage options if you’re at risk.

What To Do About These Common Homeowners Claims

The name of the game in preventing most common homeowners claims is routine and regular maintenance. Don’t let old appliances, old trees, or an old roof lead to an expensive insurance claim. Keep up with regular tasks like clearing snow and ice from your walks. Don’t forget to be vigilant of hazards in your home. If you’re aware of a loose step or hazard that may lead to an accident down the line, take the opportunity to fix it now before something bad happens.

The other part of being prepared for common homeowners claims is to set up the right coverage for your needs. Square State Insurance can take a closer look at your home and individual needs and create a policy that will minimize the impact of those unexpected surprises. Call or contact us today and we can craft the best policy for you together.

Image two and four courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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