Claims against your home insurance policy can be expensive, especially if someone is injured and a liability claim is filed. Some simple precautions can help you to prevent the dangers that commonly lead to homeowner’s insurance claims. No one can prepare for every eventuality; but, that’s why you have insurance — to protect yourself from unavoidable claims. In order to ensure you are covered, it’s important to take the time to make sure your policy is accurate and up-to-date.
Safety Outside Your House
Accidents can easily happen on your property which can cause injuries and property damage, so to ensure everything is as safe as can be you should regularly check around your property for any obvious potential liabilities. During the winter months, clear sidewalks and driveways regularly and use sand or salt on icy areas to prevent family, friends and delivery people from slipping and being injured. You should also clear any hanging icicles from the roof of your home that might fall off and cause injury.
Check for cracks in concrete on your driveway or porch that might cause someone to trip and if unsafe, you may want to look into repairing the damage. If you have electrical outlets outside your home, check them frequently for proper function. Be sure to store gardening and lawn care equipment away safely, where children cannot access it. Clear away debris immediately after completing any yard work around your house.
If you have trees on your property, keep an eye on them for signs of poor health. Have an arborist check any trees that look like they are dying; early removal of such trees prevents the major damage that can be done by a fallen tree. If you’re aware that there is a problem with a tree and it falls on someone else’s property, you may be found negligent and be responsible for the damage.
Safety Inside Your Home
Keep the inside of your home safe from fires and accidents by watching out for hazards. Make sure electrical outlets and wiring are in good working order and check cords on appliances that are plugged in for signs of wear or damage. If you have old wiring, it’s best to have an expert inspect it.
A fireplace makes for cozy winter evenings, but use it with caution. Be sure to have your chimney cleaned by a professional regularly to avoid dangerous build-up. Sweep out the fireplace after the fire has cooled, and be sure to keep kindling, paper and all other flammable objects away from the fireplace opening. Even gas fireplaces require caution – make sure the gas lines are functioning properly and again keep flammables away. Use extra caution when children are nearby – and make sure to keep matches and lighters out of reach!
Have your furnace checked regularly by an expert and make sure that you clean or replace your filter as needed. Having the air ducts cleaned is also a good idea to keep things clear. Watch for signs of water leaks in toilets or sinks – remember that water can leak inside the walls and under the floor and may cause major damage – so try to keep pipes in good condition! Clogged sinks or toilets should be dealt with promptly to avoid overflowing water that destroys floors.
Keep Your Policy Up to Date.
Even when you strive to keep your home safe and free of claims, accidents can happen. It is vital that you make certain you have the right coverage in place. Sit down for a policy review regularly to make certain everything is up-to-date.
It is always a good idea to consider increasing policy limits where appropriate. Liability coverage in particular, is an area where many people carry too little coverage on their homeowner’s policy. It does not cost much to raise this coverage, so you may want to carry limits as high as you can – as a liability claim may be amongst the most expensive for homeowners.
Make sure you are aware of any endorsements you might need on your policy to cover you completely. Many items such as art, jewelry and collections may need an extra endorsement to be covered for fire or theft. You should also be aware of exclusions on your policy – for example, some home insurance companies will not provide liability coverage for certain breeds of dogs.
If you make any improvements to your home, be sure to report them to the insurance company so that the replacement value of your home can be adjusted accordingly; otherwise, after damage occurs, you may find yourself unable to rebuild to your post-renovation state without incurring incremental out-of-pocket costs.
It’s up to you to make certain that your house is as safe as it can be and also that you have the coverage you need to protect yourself financially in the event of a claim. Claims are best avoided where possible, but your insurance exists to cover those unexpected things that can and do happen. A regular review of your coverage and of potential dangers in your house will make sure you are less likely to have a claim, but ready if you do. It is also a good idea to compare your home insurance rate to get the most out of your coverage at a lower rate.