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Keeping Your Home Safe and Claim-Free

February 28, 2012

Your home is the place where you and your family can feel safe and secure, and a place where you can keep everything that is precious to you protected. Avoiding claims is about more than just preventing your home insurance rates from rising – although that is an important consideration for most people as well – it is about protecting the place where you store things that are precious and irreplaceable. Keep your home safe from damage as best you can by following a few important safety guidelines.

Fire Safety Measures for your Home

Fire is one of the most serious forms of damage to your home and the most risky for the lives of the people who live there. Keeping your home safe from fire is a priority, and there are some things you can do to lower the risk.

Electrical fires, especially in older homes, are a common occurrence, so it’s vital that you make sure your electrical system is safe and up to date. Older homes should have the wiring inspected by an expert and any needed repairs made as soon as possible. Watch for signs of a problem in your electrical system including sockets or light fixtures that don’t function properly, and have them repaired right away. Discontinue use of any electrical device that shows signs of wear or fraying in the cord or plug. Never overload an outlet with too many items plugged in at once.

Accidental fires often occur as a result of carelessness with open flames from fireplaces, candles and stovetops. Be sure that if you have a fireplace you take all needed measures for safe use. Keep fireplace screens closed when a fire a burning, and consider a fireproof mat in front of the hearth to catch stray sparks. Never leave a fire burning unattended. The same goes for candles; don’t leave them burning unattended and make certain they are out of the reach of children. They should also be placed where cats and other animals can’t knock them over by accident. Electric wax warmers that use a light bulb are a good alternative to scented candles.

Keep flammable items such as towels and oven mitts away from the stovetop, especially when lit. Make sure to turn off items like toaster ovens, coffee makers and of course stove elements when you are finished with them.

Water Safety in your House

Although fire is the risk that inspires the most fear in people, water can also do serious damage to your home. Water can do irreversible damage just as fire can, destroying photographs, furniture, carpets, clothing and more. You can protect your home from water damage with a few careful habits.

Watch for any signs of a slow leak that might not be visible but can do damage under floors and in walls. A toilet that is running is a common sign, but there might not be obvious clues. You can obtain dye tabs from your water company for free that will tell you if your toilet is running. This damage is the most sneaky and hard to spot, but can result is serious mold problems.

Keep eaves troughs and downspouts clear of debris such as leaves so that they can drain water away from your home properly. If you live in an area where flooding is common, install a sump pump in your basement as well as valves to prevent backflow. Proper drainage on your property is also vital to avoiding a flood in your home.

Keeping all of your pipes in good working order is important to avoiding sudden bursts that can soak your home quickly. Older pipe systems should be inspected and any damage repaired quickly. Remember that you are responsible for wear and tear on your home that could result in damage, so keep up on maintenance – your home insurance will not cover damage due to poor maintenance habits.

Fire and Water Claims and Insurance Rates

Having a claim on your policy can adversely affect rates, so these preventative measures are important to keeping your insurance premiums low. It’s important to note that there are types of water damage that are not covered by your standard policy. In an area prone to flooding or sewer back-up, you should add extra coverage to your policy to provide for these incidents. Shop around for the best rates to make sure you don’t over pay for the coverage you need.

Fire and water damage can mean more than an expensive claim that affects your rates adversely. Insurance cannot replace everything. Sentimental items such as family photos, keepsakes and other items have a value that can’t be put on a claim. Cautionary measures are the best way to make sure you keep your home safe, along with all of the important items that are inside it. They’ll also make sure you don’t face a rate increase on your home insurance.