Do you know what the most common (and costliest) homeowners insurance claims are?
Fires and weather incidents pose the biggest threats to your home. More than half of all homeowners insurance claims are due to weather incidents, such as rain, snow, melting ice, and wind.
While less common, fire claims are the most costly. Think of the damage a fire could do to your home. Even if the fire was contained to one room the damage could easily spread to the entire home. Imagine smoke damaging all of your upholstered furnishings, window draperies, and even your clothing. And, in the worst case scenario, a fire that begins in one room can quickly spread through the entire home - destroying everything in its path.
It’s no surprise that fire accounts for nearly one quarter of total costs of homeowners insurance claims.
Protecting Your Home Against Fire
A standard homeowners policy protects your home against fire, providing coverage for damage to the house, personal possessions, and insured structures on your property. Even though fire damage is covered, this is one disaster that’s best avoided whenever possible.
One of the easiest ways to protect your home against fire damage is to grill safely during warm weather months. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, each year about 5,700 grill fires take place on residential property, resulting in an annual average of:
- $37 million in damage
- 100 injuries
- 10 deaths
Grills are also responsible for thousands of emergency room visits every year due to people burning themselves while barbecuing.
Safe Grilling Tips to Avoid Fires, Accidents, and Claims
The majority of grill fires are caused by malfunctioning gas grills. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the proper use and maintenance of your grill. In addition to properly maintaining your grill, follow these common sense guidelines to prevent fires from occurring:
- Operate your barbecue on a level surface, away from your house, garage, wooden fences, and other structures.
- Don’t move the grill once it is lit.
- Never grill indoors or in enclosed/ unventilated areas.
- Wear a heavy apron and oven mitts when grilling.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill.
- For charcoal grills, use lighter fluid specifically designed for grilling.
- Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to light a grill. Never add more lighter fluid once the fire has started.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Don’t cover or store your grill until it has cooled, and soak coals with water before throwing them away.
Protecting Your Home Against Weather Damage
Weather incidents such as wind, rain and snowmelt are common causes of damage to a home. A standard homeowners policy will generally cover water damage that comes from the top down, such as rainfall. (Water damage that comes from the bottom up, such as a flooded river, will generally require a separate flood insurance policy.)
Homeowners claims related to wind or hail are the most frequent. Again, proper maintenance is key to protecting your home from damage caused by weather incidents, like rain or wind.
To protect your home against wind damage, check for weak spots in these four key areas:
- Garage door
Windows, doors, and garage doors can be weak spots against strong winds. Garage doors are often the first thing to collapse in a strong wind situation. Special retrofit kits and locks are available to reinforce windows and doors if you live in an area that often experiences strong winds.
To protect your home against water damage from rainfall or snowmelt, be sure to check and maintain these key areas outside your home:
- Caulk and seal windows to guard against water seepage.
- Inspect your roof. Look for missing, damaged, and aging shingles.
- Inspect your downspouts and rain gutters, remove debris that may have accumulated. Position downspouts so that they direct water away from the house.
- Be sure sprinklers and irrigation systems are not damaging the walls and foundations of the house; turn off and drain outside faucets to protect against frozen pipes.
- Install gutter guards so water from the roof may flow easily away from the home.
Every season brings its own challenges and risks to your home. Take these steps and you can prevent accidents and protect your home against the most common - and costly - homeowners insurance claims.