There isn’t much homeowners can do to avoid disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, or wildfires. The majority of claims, however, may be denied by insurance carriers due to their preventable nature. Consider the following:
Replace washing machine hoses every three years and inspect them before each use for loose connections or damage. If your water heater is five years old or older, yearly inspections by a qualified technician are recommended. Doing so will help prevent the possibility of water damage to surrounding areas like finished basement rooms and interior walls.
Water damage is also an issue in bathrooms where shower, tub, sink, or toilet grout or caulking can decay over time. Be aware of any separation or cracks and repair or reseal as necessary. In the kitchen, loose water supply lines to refrigerators or dishwashers can cause extensive damage. Check those connections if you’ve recently moved such appliances.
The following are common signs of danger related to building structure that could mean a roof collapse is imminent. A qualified professional should investigate at the first opportunity.
- New cracks in interior and exterior walls and ceilings
- Cracked or broken windows
- Doors or windows that stick or won’t open or close properly
If you use your fireplace — even infrequently during the winter — implementing a chimney-cleaning schedule will help prevent fires caused by dirty or blocked chimneys.
To prevent electrical fires, SafeElectricity.org recommends the following:
- Replace missing or broken wall plates so wiring and components are not exposed.
- Don’t remove the grounding pin (third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-conductor outlet.
- Make sure cords are not frayed or cracked, and don’t nail or staple them to walls, floors or other objects.
- If an appliance repeatedly blows a fuse, trips a circuit breaker or has given you an electrical shock, immediately unplug it and have it repaired or replaced.
Make sure your furnace is in good working condition. Have it inspected regularly, and leave repairs to professionals. When appliances in the home wear out, homeowners’ insurance does not pay.
Millions of people are bitten by dogs each year, which results in a lot of costly homeowners’ insurance claims. Man’s best friend can be a big liability if he bites someone on your property.
If someone slips and falls while on your property, you may be liable. Keep steps and walkways in good repair and free from snow, ice and objects that can cause trips, such as debris, toys and tools.
For additional information, see the Insurance Information Institute’s “Which Disasters are Covered by Homeowners’ Insurance” for a handy outline of perils covered under standard homeowners’ policies.