A very real threat to you and your bank account is lurking in your home, and there’s a good chance that you are doing nothing to combat it – water damage.
But don’t just take our word for it. The team at HIG Insurance recently read an insightful survey from Chubb Insurance, which concluded that of the 1,200 homeowners interviewed, the majority of them did not feel that water damage was a huge threat. As a result, only 18% of participants have invested in a water leak detection system for their home. Plus, the surveyed homeowners felt that fires, robbery, and other disasters were more of a threat to their home and financial well-being than water damage.
As experienced insurance agents, we know that water damage is one of the most common property damage-related claims, which was our biggest motivator behind this post. Throughout this blog, we will be exploring why water damage is a real risk that every homeowner should seriously consider and how to combat it with modern technology, deliberate preparation, and a little ingenuity.
You might be thinking that you are not at risk for water damage if you do not own coastal property, or your home is not close to a small pond, stream or lake, or the neighborhood you are in is an area with little to no flood risk. Contrary to popular belief, there are actually several additional common culprits for water seepage and damage, including your plumbing randomly malfunctioning, leaky faucets, faulty outdoor water features, a water main break, burst pipe, ice dam, and rapid snowmelt. In addition, if your home’s foundation is built on old stone or rock ledge foundations – both of which are common substructures here in New England – this could be particularly troublesome. Water tends to flow along the ledge and permeate through cracks which can then lead to water flowing straight out of the rock and right into your basement. As you can see the possibilities that your cherished home, both its interior and exterior, could sustain some degree of water damage over its lifetime is almost guaranteed, not to mention, extremely costly to fix.
We are not sharing this information to scare you but rather to help you better prepare for what may lay ahead. So, in addition to chatting with your local and independent insurance agent about the very best coverages for your home, you may want to consider these helpful tips to reduce your exposure or, at the very least, minimize the extent of the damage.
Three ways to protect the inside of your home from water damage
1. Locate your water main shutoff valve
Once found, it may be worthwhile to share its location with a few people, including close family, friends, and if appropriate, with your house sitter or nanny. That way, in the event of a leak, regardless of who is home, they will know exactly how and where to turn the water off.
Informing others is especially important if you are planning a family trip. Depending on the length of your vacation, and the time of year, you may not feel comfortable shutting your water main off before leaving. In a situation like this, you will want to consider entrusting a neighbor or friend to periodically check your home both inside and out in your absence. Catching a leak early on can significantly impact the extent of the financial and property damage, especially when an average claim can run you about $10,000.
2. Installing a water detection device
Installing and regularly maintaining a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, and home security system has become second nature for most property owners, and rightfully so, as the threat of fire and theft are very real. However, the team at HIG feels that the same should be true for water damage.
There are a variety of water detection devices available for purchase today. Some systems are designed to send a notification to your smartphone when a leak is detected in your basement. Other more sophisticated systems use small sensors to detect the tiniest leaks in and around your home appliances, inform you on the amount of water flowing through your pipes, and update you on your home’s temperature, which is especially helpful in the winter when you worry about your pipes freezing or bursting. In addition, several of these high-tech systems can automatically shut off your home’s main water supply without any assistance required.
3. Consider installing a backwater valve
This critical device may prevent sewer water from re-entering your home should your sewer or drain line get backed up due to excess rain or high floodwaters. You may also want to consider adding a few endorsements to your homeowners policy, including water and sewer backup and service line protection coverage.
In the unfortunate event that a city or town drain overflows and water begins to seep into your home, or the sump pump in your basement randomly breaks and wreaks havoc on your laundry room, water and sewer backup coverage can help cover the cost to replace and repair your belongings.
Similarly, if the town or city’s main water line burst or collapsed due to unruly tree roots just outside of your property causing damage to your home, without service line protection coverage, you, as the homeowner would be responsible to foot the bill. This damage can be particularly costly when you begin to consider the cost of repairs to the pipes, excavation, and damage to your property.
Five ways to protect the outside of your home from water damage
In addition to prepping the interior of your home, there are a handful of things you can do to ensure that your property’s exterior is safeguarded. The Insurance Information Institute recommends the following five things:
- Inspect your roof from afar to see if there are any missing, damaged or aging shingles, and if necessary, hire a professional roofer to make any repairs.
- Install gutter guards to help prevent clogs and keep a steady stream of water flowing away from your house instead of accumulating on your roof.
- Seal your windows with caulking to protect against potential water seepage.
- Check your downspouts and remove any debris that may have accumulated. Then, make sure that they are pointed away from the house to avoid pooling around your foundation.
- Turn off and drain outside faucets to protect against the possibility of frozen and/or a burst pipe.
HIG recommends you add these items to your spring and fall to-do lists because the weather is much more cooperative for outdoor-based projects. This schedule will give you the time you need to react to any property damage you may have experienced over the winter, as well as prepare in the fall for the harsher weather conditions that will inevitably return. Plus, addressing damages and issues proactively and periodically may help save you money in the long run as it is much cheaper to replace a gutter, caulk a window, or hire a handyman to clean your downspouts than it is to remediate water in your walls, basement, or ceiling.
Defend your home from water damage with a comprehensive insurance program from HIG Insurance
From educating you on risk to discussing the best ways to protect your property, to ensuring your home insurance policy includes the appropriate coverages, at HIG, we are always looking for ways to do more for you, our client.
With over 100 years of experience insuring homes and condos in Fall River, MA, Somerset, RI, and the surrounding communities of the South Coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, we see all the beauty that this area has to offer its residents. However, we are also no strangers to the things that can plague homeowners as well, including harsh and unpredictable weather conditions, water line back-ups, leaky plumbing, burst pipes, flooding, and more. Which is why we think it’s essential that every property owner has comprehensive home insurance that specifically protects them from a number of unforeseen risks and, in particular, water damage.
Most standard home insurance policies will help cover the cost of water damage if the cause is considered sudden and accidental. It’s true that some policies and carriers may help you cover the cost of damages caused by faulty plumbing, like in the event your dishwasher’s supply hose suddenly breaks. However, most policies will not provide any financial relief if the damage is a result of poor maintenance, negligence, or a catastrophe, like a flood.
The team at HIG can help protect your home with a separate flood policy, as well as with other often-overlooked insurance coverages including water and sewer backup and service line protection. Plus, these additional coverages, with the exception of a separate flood insurance policy, are extremely budget-friendly. For instance, service line protection will only increase your home insurance premium by $45, which is nothing when compared to paying out of pocket for costly repairs.
Unforeseen accidents happen every day, and water damage is more common than you think. So rather than waiting for disaster to strike, or worse, assuming that your policy will provide the financial coverage you need to get your house looking like a home again, the team at HIG strongly encourages you to consult your trusted agent for a quick and comprehensive policy review. For your free insurance review, contact us today at 508-676-5949, visit us online, or stop into either of our two convenient locations.