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Go ahead and blame Mother Nature for the things that can go terribly wrong at one’s home. Just not all of them. Damage caused by punishing weather — wind, hail, and rain — accounted for more than half of all homeowners insurance claims over the past six years, but there were other culprits as well, such as fire, leaky pipes, and theft.
The findings are contained in a new study which identified the most common and most expensive homeowners insurance claims based on a review of thousands of claims filed with the company from 2009 to 2015. The most common claims were for:
- Exterior wind damage – 25% of all losses
- Non-weather-related water damage (e.g., plumbing or appliance issues) – 19%
- Hail – 15%
- Weather-related water damage – 11%
- Theft – 6%
Any number of things can go wrong with a home, and it’s impossible to predict them all. However, if homeowners focus on these particularly common risks and take preventive steps and perform routine maintenance, it may help lessen the likelihood of damage.
What you can do to lessen your risk:
Severe windstorm: Put away anything outdoors that could become a projectile in howling winds, such as a patio umbrella. Keep trees that are close to your home in good condition; remove diseased or dead limbs or trees.
Hail: Park your car in a garage or under cover.
Rain: Make sure that your gutters are clear and that water can drain away from the house.
Water heater and household appliances: Water damage accounts for billions of dollars in losses for homeowners and renters each year, according to the Insurance Information Institute. To prevent water damage, know the age of your water heater and how long the manufacturer expects it to last. Check for leaks or corrosion once a year. Leaks in water supply lines to a toilet, sink or dishwasher can also cause serious damage. Check them regularly as well. Know the location of your home’s main water shut-off valve.
Summer is a good time to conduct a home-maintenance check of your property. Some things to do to lessen your risk of expensive damage include:
- Change the batteries in your smoke detectors.
- Check for diseased or dead trees and branches.
- Inspect heating and air conditioning equipment and any other home mechanical systems.
- Check electrical outlets for fire hazards.
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