According to the Insurance Information Institute, the primary losses on homeowners insurance in 2019 were due to environmental damage from wind and rain, water damage and freezing, and fire and lightning. You may not be able to control the environment, but you can take steps to prepare your home ahead of extreme weather conditions. Here’s a closer look at the most common causes of property damage and some tips for protecting your house against them.
Wind and hail
Wind storms may blow branches and debris onto your roof, knock down trees, blow open doors and windows, or cause sections of your roof, siding, or gutters to come loose. Hail storms may cause dents or cracks in your siding, shingles, and gutters. Damage from these storms can then make way for water damage or even disturb the structure of your home.
Protect your home by checking for vulnerabilities regularly. Inspect your roof and siding and note any cracks, dents, or weaknesses that could worsen in a storm. Ensure the trees and bushes around your property are healthy and well-maintained. If limbs are extending too close to your house, have them removed to reduce the risk of breakage.
Check the weatherproofing around your windows and doors and have it repaired if necessary. Ensure all your doors and windows close securely so strong winds don’t fling them open.
As storm season approaches, ensure loose items such as furniture, gardening equipment, or toys are securely stored, so they aren’t picked up by strong winds and flung against your home.
Water damage and freezing
Issues like sewer backups, plumbing leaks, broken appliances, flooding, melting snow, and cracks in a home’s roof or foundation can lead to water damage.
Preparing your home for low temperatures will help prevent water damage related to ice and snow. Lower the risk of frozen pipes by having water circulate through them regularly and keeping the HVAC system running in your home. Outside, check that your gutters are clear and disconnect garden hoses, so they don’t freeze and crack.
Regularly inspect your roof, siding, and the seals on doors and windows so water cannot seep inside, leading to mold or fungus. Ensure your home’s perimeter drains are functioning properly. If you notice any areas in your yard with standing water, look for drainage solutions, so it doesn’t pool against your foundation.
Whether you’re home or away, environmental systems are an easy way to detect floods and gas leaks, monitor your home’s temperature, and receive weather alerts.
Fire and lightning
Lower your risk of storm-related fire damage by unplugging appliances when you notice a storm approaching. Protect devices from possible power surges by using surge protectors to plug in your computers or electronics.
Day-to-day fire safety is also essential. Check your home for faulty electrical outlets and replace any items with frayed wires. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have your chimney cleaned and inspected regularly, and never leave an open flame unattended. Practice fire safety in your kitchen and always keep a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies.
Your home should always have a functioning fire alarm system connected to alert you in the event of a blaze.
While severe weather is one of the leading contributors to property damage each year, the information outlined above should help you take steps to lessen the impact of storms. Environmental and fire alarm systems will alert you to problems in real-time so you can take steps to limit damage or keep yourself safe.
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