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Common homeowners insurance claims

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Keeping your home in good working order is important, but unfortunately, things can go wrong unexpectedly. A major storm could roll through and destroy your roof, or a wildfire could burn down your new home addition. There are a number of situations that might lead to a home insurance claim, but some are more common than others. In this article, we’ll review some of the most frequent home insurance claims so you can proactively protect your property.

Most Common Homeowners Insurance Claims

Home insurance policies cover a wide range of scenarios. However, the most common home insurance claims typically fall into one of five categories. Knowing which claims are the most common can be beneficial as you consider your current and future insurance needs.

Wind damage

Wind damage is one of the most common causes of home insurance claims. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), roughly one in 40 homes has a wind or hail-related claim every year. Fortunately, dwelling insurance covers wind claims if your home is damaged or destroyed in a severe storm. And if you have to temporarily move out, loss of use coverage will provide reimbursement for hotel and food costs.

Wind damage that is caused by a hurricane or windstorm is slightly different. In states that are prone to tropical storms with high winds, many insurance providers require homeowners to pay a windstorm deductible before a claim is paid out. Currently, 19 states require a hurricane deductible.

Hail damage

When it comes to home insurance claims, hail and wind are often grouped together, but not all hail storms produce high winds. Hail claims are covered by dwelling insurance, regardless of what type of policy you have. For items such as your lawnmower that are destroyed by a severe hail storm, your personal property insurance would pay for a new one.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many ways to protect your house from a hail storm, other than choosing roofing materials that are more resilient to hail. But if you know that a storm is on the horizon, it’s important to take some precautions. Make sure to put your vehicles into a garage or carport, tie down any loose items outside, and store easy to move items inside. Take lots of pictures of your roof and exterior prior to a hail season to establish its condition prior to any hail loss.

Water damage

Water damage is another commonly-occurring and costly claim, and there are tons of ways to end up with it. Water damage can result from leaking or burst pipes, overflowing sinks, toilets, or bathtubs, burst appliances like dishwashers or washing machines and leaking roofs. The III indicates that roughly one in 50 homes has a property damage claim that is caused by water damage or freezing every year. The average cost of a water damage claim is a staggering $10,849.

Unfortunately, water damage is only covered by insurance if something in your home is responsible for the damage. For example, a water leak caused by an old pipe might be covered, but there are limitations. Remember that home insurance policies never cover natural flooding. In order to be covered for natural flooding, a homeowner must buy a flood policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Fire and lightning damage

According to the III, the average cost of a fire claim is $79,785. Although fire is undoubtedly the most expensive claim, it’s fortunately not the most common. However, fires are a real threat to millions of homes, and a single fire could easily destroy your entire house and the belongings inside.

As a homeowner, it’s important to make sure you have the correct replacement cost on your home so you could cover the full cost of a rebuild if you had to. Remember–your replacement cost is not always the equivalent of what you bought it for, or what it’s worth. Also ensure that your contents coverage is accurate by using a home inventory that indicates what your personal items are worth.

Theft

No one ever plans for a home break in, but it happens more often than you would think. The III reports that about one in 400 homes has a property damage claim due to a break in each year. Fortunately, home insurance will cover a theft claim, assuming it wasn’t due to negligence (like leaving the front door unlocked).

Most burglars take personal items, which can be replaced by your personal property coverage. If a thief breaks into your home and causes damage in the process, like a broken window, your dwelling insurance will cover the cost of repairs.

How to reduce your risk and save money

Protecting your home against common home insurance claims is important for a number of reasons. It will save you from paying an out-of-pocket deductible, and you’ll avoid a rate hike. Here are some tips to reduce your risk for common threats.

  • Outfit your home with an anti-theft device or surveillance system
  • Keep fire extinguishers in multiple rooms
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon dioxide monitors throughout your home
  • Keep up with regular home maintenance and make repairs quickly
  • Use hurricane-proof doors and windows if you live in a high-risk weather area

Filing a homeowners insurance claim

If your home is damaged by a covered peril, it’s important to file a home insurance claim as soon as possible. In fact, most insurance companies put a time limit on how long you have to file a claim after a loss. And if your home is severely damaged, you’ll want to get that payout as soon as possible to start making repairs.

To file a home insurance claim, you’ll want to contact your insurance company and explain what happened in detail. It helps to provide photos, videos and a written description of the event. Depending on the type of claim, an adjuster might come to your home to assess the damage in-person. Once your insurer determines your payout, you’ll receive a check for the amount, minus your deductible. 

The takeaway

  • Wind, hail, water damage, fire and theft are among the most common home insurance claims.
  • Insurance covers most damage from common claims, but it’s still important to protect your home from certain risks.
  • Filing a home insurance claim raises your rate, and you’ll have to pay your deductible out-of-pocket.

Home insurance claims are often unexpected. Your home could be here one day and gone the next. That’s why it’s important to have the right type of insurance coverage for your home and your belongings. Not only does home insurance offer peace of mind, but it can save you a lot of money in the long term if you do have to file a major claim.

Elizabeth Rivelli

Elizabeth is an insurance writer for coverage.com, where she covers insurance providers and reviews policies to help consumers find comprehensive and affordable coverage for every area of their life. She has more than three years of writing experience for top online insurance and finance publications.

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