How to Protect Yourself from the Most Common Insurance Claims in the U.S.

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Just as you’re feeling settled as a homeowner, Mother Nature can throw a curveball that requires major repairs to your home and the headache of filing an insurance claim. While natural disasters aren’t the only cause of common homeowners insurance claims in the U.S., they can be sudden, terrifying, and destructive.

Fortunately, homeowners can avoid financial debt and the need to file insurance claims by taking steps to protect themselves against unforeseen disasters. Here’s a quick look at a few to help you get started.

Upgrade Your Roof

One of the most costly and destructive natural disasters is hail. Hailstorms can damage cars, shatter windows, and dent or even destroy roofs. If you live in an area prone to hailstorms, upgrading to hail-resistant or dent-proof roof shingles will eliminate a huge risk factor for you and your insurance company. Another benefit to upgrading your roof is that once the project is done, a replacement roof probably won’t be required for decades. Insurance companies are even likely to reward you with a lower premium for your effort.

 Install Fire-Suppression Features

Another huge home insurance claim—in both frequency and cost—is fire damage. Fires can be caused by natural disasters like wildfires or lightning strikes, accidents within the home, or any number of other incidents. Regardless of your location, no home is immune to the risk of fire damage. Installing fire-suppression features is an important precautionary measure for homeowners.

 As a bonus, the installation of sprinkler systems or fire extinguishers may please your insurance company. A sprinkler system can be expensive (usually between $8,000—$10,000), but you may save a lot of money in the long run by avoiding potential disasters and earning a lower insurance rate.

Install Security Features

Losses due to burglary are also among the most common and expensive home insurance claims. Break-ins can cause financial woes due to property damage upon the intrusion and the loss of property from theft. Luckily, there are many different types of security features available on the market that can limit this risk.

One popular burglar alarm, SimpliSafe, is both affordable and convenient. SimpliSafe connects to your phone, so you can arm and disarm it from anywhere. You can even check on your home’s status while you’re out.

No matter what kind of security system you install, you’ll decrease your risk of break-ins and likely be rewarded with a lowered insurance premium. Installing a secure fence around your home can offer these benefits, too. The less attractive your home is to burglars, the lower your chances are of having to file a claim.

Buy a Leak Detector

Water damage is another common and costly home insurance claim, and it often starts from a simple leak. Leak detectors are both affordable and convenient—some can even hook up to your phone. Leak detectors can be placed under washing machines, water heaters, or dishwashers. The sensor will alert you when a new leak begins, which can significantly reduce any financial losses or destruction due to water damage. The alert can also allow you enough time to prevent a major mishap, such as a flood. 

Replace Hoses for Ice Makers and Washing Machines

Another easy way to prevent leaks is to upgrade or replace the existing hose in your freezer’s ice maker. Older copper tubing is prone to developing cracks and holes that can leak over time, potentially causing serious damage in your kitchen. Upgrading to plastic hosing can avoid this problem, as the material is much more flexible and durable.

Washing machines come equipped with hot water hoses that eventually wear out and become brittle, potentially causing pricey and dangerous leaks. Replace your washing machine’s hose regularly to avoid future mishaps or have it inspected to ensure it’s safe for continued use. 

Eliminate Potentially Dangerous Outdoor Amenities

Swing sets, trampolines, and other outdoor recreational amenities are fun, but they are also the source of common (and easily preventable) home insurance claims. One simple way to reduce the risk of injury on your property is to remove as many potential dangers as possible, and an easy place to start is in the backyard. Eliminating these risks can cut down on claims and hospital visits and may also lead to a lower insurance premium.

Install a Pool Alarm

If you can’t live without your outdoor pool, you can still reduce the risk of pool-related catastrophes and home insurance claims by installing a pool alarm. These alarms are triggered when ripples form in the pool’s water. Even if you aren’t actively monitoring the area, you can feel a bit more relaxed when the kids are playing nearby. The alarm will sound if someone accidentally falls in, so you can act quickly. Though having a pool may mean a higher premium to start with, the installation of an alarm may help earn you an insurance credit. 

Install a Pest Control System

Termites, ants, and other pests can cause damage that leads to some of the most common home insurance claims. While costly, installing a home pest control system is an effective way to avoid these claims. The process involves the professional installation of a pesticide-filled hose system behind the bricks in your home. The pesticide will automatically release at specified intervals, greatly reducing the possibility of pests invading your home.

Preventative steps that make your home safer and less prone to unforeseen catastrophes may cost money upfront but can save you a lot of money down the road. Stay in touch with your insurance agent about any projects you take on, as they may affect your insurance policy or rates. Upgrading your home can not only reduce your long-term financial burden but also afford you peace of mind due to the reduced risk of surprise disasters and potential insurance claims.

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