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Preventing Homeowners Claims

Updated April 5, 2022 . AmFam Team

Regular home maintenance now can help prevent costly damage later. Learn about the most common home insurance claims and how to avoid them.

Unexpected home repairs can get very expensive very fast. You can't always plan for every possibility — and that's why having the right homeowners insurance is a smart move. It can help cover expensive damage to your home caused by unexpected events.

And while it’s important to have protection in place for your family and home, taking proactive steps to keep claims at bay is always a smart move too.

Check out our list of four common events and hazards that can lead to homeowners insurance claims and specific ways to help prevent them.

Fire Damage

Fires happen to even the most careful homeowners, often resulting in costly damage. According to the Insurance Information Institution (Opens in a new tab), fire and lightning top the list of most expensive insurance claims at an average of nearly $80,000.

How to protect your home from fire damage

Protect your home from common fire risks by keeping the following prevention tips in mind:

  • Install smoke detectors on each floor and outside of each bedroom
  • Inspect your alarms regularly and change batteries every year
  • Keep electrical items and their cords away from flammable materials to avoid an electrical fire
  • Never leave heat sources like ovens, stoves or space heaters unattended
  • Remove lint from dryers and air filters
  • Perform regular home preventative maintenance on your heating system and chimneys

Wind and Hail Damage

Wind and hail can do direct damage to your roof, windows, doors and other parts of your home. They also have the power to hurl dangerous objects at your home and cause trees or power lines to fall on it. Damage from wind or hail is the most common reason homeowners file insurance claims. In fact, the Insurance Information Institution (Opens in a new tab) reports that each year about one out of 40 insured homes has a property damage claim related to wind or hail.

Since wind and hail are the main causes of damage to roofs, having replacement cost coverage (RCV) for your roof is in your best interest. RCV coverage reimburses you for the full amount it would cost to repair or replace your roof. Meaning, typically, you wouldn’t have to pay more than your deductible for repairs or replacement in the event of a wind and hail claim.

Keep reading to learn more about homeowners insurance for roof replacement.

How to protect your home from wind and hail damage

There’s no way to totally wind- and hail-proof your home, but these home maintenance tips can help make damage less likely and less costly:

  • Inspect trees on or near your property for weak limbs or trunks and get them trimmed
  • Maintain your roof regularly and replace shingles when needed
  • Move outdoor objects inside during storms to prevent them from being blown around
  • Make sure doors and windows are secure
  • Review your homeowners policy if you live in an area that is often affected by hurricanes or tornadoes, so you know what it covers and whether you’d benefit from adding more coverage

Was your home damaged in a storm? Read our tips on how to find potential wind or hail damage that can be difficult to see.

Water Damage

An outdoor pool is a great home feature — an indoor pool of water that has leaked through your ceilings, walls and floors is not.

Faulty pipes are the most common cause of water damage to your home. But whether you're covered or not can depend on some key factors. For sudden water line bursts, a standard homeowners policy likely has you covered. For damage that results from a slow leak over time, you'll need hidden water damage coverage.

As you explore the nuances of your policy, take some time to consider flood insurance. Most home policies don't cover flood damage caused by heavy rain or snow. To meet those needs, we offer coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program. Your agent can help add this enhancement to your policy.

How to protect your home from water damage

Consider these home maintenance tips to prevent or minimize water damage from cracked or frozen pipes:

  • Keep gutters clean and in good shape
  • Repair any dripping or cracked pipes
  • Check seals and caulking around showers and tubs, and reseal as necessary
  • Don’t pour sticky, greasy or thick substances down sink drains
  • Keep the temperature above 55 degrees in the winter, even when you’re away from home
  • Add or upgrade insulation in areas of the house that get the coldest, like the basement or attic
  • Run warm water through faucets occasionally
  • Invest in a smart water sensor — an early detection system that can warn you of leaky appliances

If you do face water damage in your home, American Family Insurance offers an Emergency Water Removal Program (EWRP) as a benefit to our policyholders. The EWRP helps you recover from water damage in your home by helping clean, repair and restore it quickly.

Home Burglary and Theft

From the pictures on the walls to the colors of your carpets, your home is uniquely yours and a place where you go for comfort and security. And though you do what you can to protect it, you’re still susceptible to the unexpected.

How to protect your home from burglary and theft

Theft is never your fault. Consider these home security tips; they can help lower the chance that burglars will target your home:

  • Regularly check that the knobs and locks on your doors and windows work
  • Add deadbolts to all outside doors
  • Lock your doors and windows at night, or when you’re away from home
  • Install motion-sensing lights outside and turn them on at night
  • While you're away, make it look like someone is home by asking a trusted neighbor of friend someone to check mail and put out trash
  • Don’t hide a spare key outside: The convenience isn’t worth the risk that a burglar will find it
  • Keep an inventory of your things, along with their value, in case they're taken during a burglary
  • Install a security system with an alarm that will scare burglars away and notify you and the police if someone enters your property

Equip your home with qualifying smart home devices and you may get a discount on your home insurance.

Start Protecting Your Home from the Unexpected Today

By keeping these home maintenance tips in mind, you can help prevent costly insurance claims and proactively protect your home from the unexpected — which is great for peace of mind. But you should still make sure your insurance gives you enough coverage for all these situations. Find an American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) near you today to help you get customized homeowners insurance coverage to protect what matters most to you.

Want to learn more ways to keep your home protected from the unexpected? Check out our home maintenance hub for great resources and pointers.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.

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