Types of Home Insurance Claims
There is always a chance of events beyond your control that can cause loss or damage to your home or property. As a homeowner, you can hope for the best, while preparing for the worst. You’ve maybe installed a generous amount of smoke detectors or the very best set of security windows. However, the smartest way to prepare financially for potential home losses is by purchasing homeowners insurance coverage.
Basic home insurance policies usually provide homeowners with protection against covered perils. These perils include wind, hail, fire, theft and in most cases, liability. Nevertheless, this is not a full list of coverage of all the options available. Different homeowners insurance endorsements can add coverage beyond the basic homeowners insurance policy.
Reasons for Home Insurance Claims
Losses to home and property can come in all forms, shapes, and sizes, and occur because of natural disasters, theft, fire, water, or other reasons. Securing insurance coverage and making sure you are prepared for the most possible losses can give you some peace of mind.
Patterns in homeowners insurance claims are strongly influenced year to year by environmental factors. For instance, the severity of weather events like hurricanes, snow storms, flooding, tornadoes, and other types of catastrophic weather occurrences. In fact, although rare, there are even quite a few homeowner insurance sinkhole claims.
While you may not experience a sinkhole, there are other types of homeowner claims that you are much more likely to experience. Statistics show that approximately one in 15 homeowners will file some type of insurance claim each year.
Most Common Home Insurance Claims
1. Wind and Hail constitute 34% of home insurance claims
This category covers destruction caused by high-velocity winds and hail. These damages are often caused by natural phenomena like hurricanes, tornados, and thunderstorms.
Strong winds can uproot trees that fall on your home and cause sides, roof and infrastructure damage. Likewise, hail from strong storms can cause severe damage to your home. Hail can measure anywhere from 0.2 inches to up to 8 inches in diameter. The type of hail that causes damage to homes is usually at least 0.75 inches in diameter.
These large hailstones can crack wood, concrete, clay, asphalt, and other types of roofs. Furthermore, hail can cause windows to break and damage home siding.
However, regardless of wind and hail damage being of the most common reasons for home insurance claims, they’re not the most expensive type of damage. The average comes in at only $11,200 per claim. Although these costs are expected to rise with the inflation of building materials prices.
2. 32% of Home Insurance Claims are Fire and Lightning Damage
Residential fires are a top cause of homeowner losses. Damage from fire and lightning ranks second for frequency but accounts for the most expensive claims, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The National Fire Protection Association reports there are on average 355,400 residential fires per year. Meanwhile, the average claim for fire and lightning damage is a whopping $79,785.
Common causes of home fires include cooking, electrical distribution and lighting equipment, heating, intentional fires, and smoking. Likewise, lightning can cause a power surge in your home which can destroy appliances and costly electronics, power lines and telephone wires, as well as start fires. Not all policies cover power surges from lightning. You should read your homeowners policy carefully to see if it covers damage from lightning that strikes your home directly.
Most Common Fire Hazards In Homes:
Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and fire related home insurance claims. Leaving the kitchen unattended while cooking is the leading cause for kitchen fires. Cooking oil is a significant fire hazard in the kitchen. In just seconds, oil can ignite into a fire that very few people know how to control. As a safety precaution, never leave your stove unattended while cooking and consider using a deep fryer instead of an open pan.
If not used properly, barbecues can pose a serious safety and fire hazard. Never light a gas or charcoal barbecue inside the home. Use them on a well ventilated area, as well far from flammable objects. Be sure to never block an exit with your barbecue or grill. Moreover, give them proper and routine maintenance to further reduce possibilities of fires or explosions.
Despite the fact that the number of smokers is steadily decreasing, cigarette fires are still a major cause of property damage claims. If you’re a smoker, be aware of your surroundings and stay alert. Never smoke lying on a bed or sofa and always wet cigarette butts before throwing them in the trash. Moreover, never extinguish cigarette butts in flower pots or planters. Planting soil can contain combustible materials like peat, moss or wood chips. They could also contain chemical fertilizers which can ignite. In fact, it can take four to five hours from the time the butt is extinguished to the time a flame starts due to these components.
Electrical fires are also a common occurrence. First, temporary electrical installations or overloaded connections are a significant fire hazard. Avoid them! Likewise, operating more than one high energy appliance at the same time on the same circuit is potentially dangerous. Connect electronic devices to a surge-protected power strip and avoid using plug dividers, as they can overload the electrical outlet. If you need to use an extension cord make sure it has enough capacity for the appliance and never slide the cord under a carpet.
An aromatherapy session can turn into a catastrophe if you leave burning candles unattended. Use good quality candlesticks that are not made of wood or plastic, in addition to a stable base. Arrange the candles far from draperies or woodwork.
3. Water Damage & Freezing: 24% of Home Insurance Claims
Water damage happens fairly often. In fact, more than one in five home insurance claims relate to this type of water damage. In addition to being common, these claims are somewhat expensive. They rank third and come in at about $10,849 on average. Water damage occurs for a number of reasons. It can be the result of rain or snowmelt, or even interior issues such as a burst pipe or leaking plumbing.
Water damage is divided into two categories:
- Non-weather water damage: Includes problems with sewer, plumbing pipes, drains and valves, appliances, and water leaks.
- Weather-related water damage: Includes roof damage, frozen pipes, torn siding, flooding, rain, and other similar causes. Flood damage is usually uncovered by homeowners insurance. For flood coverage, you’ll need to purchase a flood insurance policy. Verify with your insurer or consult your policy.
Most Common Water Damage Causes In Homes:
Overflowing tubs, leaky toilets, a shower that doesn’t drain properly, or even a slow leak all add up to water damage. Always be vigilant of pipes, drains, or any water related spaces. Never let the bath run unattended, repair small leaks immediately and, if your bathroom is in the basement, make sure your appliances are protected by anti-backflow valves.
Leaking dishwasher or washing machine hoses
Hoses and pipes leak due to corrosion, a damaged fitting, or just wear and tear. Check the condition of the pipes regularly and consider replacing them with metal-reinforced hoses. Furthermore, avoid running the dishwasher and washing machine when you’re not at home.
Hurricanes, excessive rain, breaking dams and snowstorms can all bring excessive water into your home. In these instances, large amounts of water can’t be absorbed by the land, and may overflow into your home. Install a flood alarm and warning system. If you live in a coastal area, be sure to purchase additional flood insurance. Although costly, if you live in a flood-prone area you could consider raising your homes on stilts. Another option is to install foundation vents or sump pumps. You can also grade your lawn away from the house.
Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems within your home can cause water damage. Be sure to have these systems inspected and cleaned regularly. In addition, if you know there is an impending storm, shut off your central air conditioning to prevent damage and risk of electrocution.
4. 6% of Home Insurance Claims are Because of Non-Theft Property Damage
The Insurance Information Institute puts property damage, such as a tree falling on the roof or a utility truck that backs into your garage, as one of its top reasons for homeowner’s insurance claims. While this type of claim can take a number of forms, the average claim cost $6,598.
5. Theft: 1% of Home Insurance Claims
Losses from theft include both personal property losses and property damage that occur during a break-in. Homeowners insurance covers theft of property both inside and outside your home. It also pays for repairs to your property that occurred during the theft. Theft comes at an average claim cost of $4,391.
Having your home broken into, can be very traumatic. Being robbed of valuables or sentimental treasures can be both a financial and psychological hardship. However there are some preventive measures you can take to lessen the possibility of theft. First, invest in an alarm system. Secondly, do not leave a key outside. Third, lock all doors and windows every time you leave the house and close all blinds. Fourth, inform a trusted neighbor if you are leaving for more than a few days.
6. All Other Property Damage; Even Vandalism
Vandalism and malicious mischief losses are also pretty common home insurance claims. They include losses caused by an intentional injury or destruction of property. Most home insurance policies have limits on the amount of coverage provided for vandalism and malicious mischief. Read your policy carefully or check with your insurance agent the amount of coverage you have.
Liability refers to your duty toward other people, such as when a guest suffers injury or property damage while visiting your home. Although infrequent, these claims can be expensive. They can average on a hefty $26,872 and are also common.
Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim
If you’ve suffered a covered loss to your home or property, it is important to know the proper steps to take when filing a homeowners insurance claim. Here are the most important ones.
- The first step is to report the incident to authorities if it’s necessary. For example, a fire or burglary could merit a police or firefighter report. You may have to provide a copy of the police report to the insurance company.
- After reporting the incident, contact your insurance company to get the home insurance claim process started. Consider hiring a public adjuster to maximize your claim and reduce some of the stress of this extensive process
- Complete all claims forms required by your insurance company.
- Photograph or video any damage if possible. A public adjuster can help out with this step and even develop a home inventory for you in order to quicken the claims process.
- Take any necessary steps to prevent further property damage.
- Save your receipts for any purchases made for temporary repairs.
- Make sure you are available to speak with claims representatives or claims adjusters when they call. If this is not possible, public adjusters take care of this for you
After filing the home insurance claim, an insurance adjuster will visit your home or property to inspect the damage and determine your claim payout. Ask any questions you have when the insurance adjuster visits or to the insurance company when initially reporting your claim. Remember, you can negotiate settlements. Public adjusters are master negotiators that can facilitate this part of the claims process and get you the largest payout possible.
Best way to beat the insurance company is to hire AllCity Adjusting
At AllCity Adjusting we help residential and commercial clients alike get the claims support they need. Moreover, we have over 50 years of combined experience helping get our clients the max settlement time and time again. If your claim has been low balled or denied entirely we can help increase your maximum settlement. Call us today for a FREE consultation. Experience the AllCity difference.
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