Water Damage

Given how much water modern homes require for appliances and plumbing, it shouldn’t be a surprise that water damage tops the list of the most common homeowners insurance claims1.  

Q. If my home is flooded in a natural disaster, will my homeowners policy cover the damage?
A. Private insurance companies do not cover losses resulting from weather-related flooding. However, you can buy separate Flood Insurance. 
Q. Will my insurance pay for flooding damage to my floors or walls if a pipe or appliance in my home suddenly springs a leak?
A. Yes, most policies will cover these damages. Some may even cover “access” or the cost of getting to the burst pipe. However, claims can be denied if the leak resulted from a lack of upkeep.

Having a water damage claim is no fun. Managing emergency services, repairs and sometimes additional living expenses can drain your time and resources. That’s why its important to know what’s covered and ways to prevent damage from happening in the first place. Here is a list of suggestion to prevent water damage from happening:

  • Keep your roof well maintained and free of moss. 
  • Keep trees trimmed back from the house and remove dead or dying trees that are more likely to fall.
  • Extend your gutter system away from the house and keep the gutters clean.
  • Regularly check your sump pump. If you have a basement, chances are you most likely have a sump pump. Make sure you are properly maintaining it and check it at least once per year.
  • Inspect and replace hoses connected to your washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator, and water heater.
  • Drain your water heater. It is recommended that you drain your water heater at least once per year, depending on the mineral content present in your local water supply.
  • Prevent frozen pipes by insulating those that are exposed to the elements and using a smart thermostat to maintain a water temperature that will prevent your pipes from freezing.
  • Install automatic shutoffs in HVAC air handler drip trays in case drain lines clog and back up.
  • Install individual appliance shutoff systems on washing machines, hot water heaters or dishwashers. 
  • If they start to leak for any number of reasons, the water to that appliance will shut off immediately.

For more information on water damage and your individual policy, please contact your client advisor.

Inflation and Insurance Rates

Like most other goods and services, inflation can also increase the cost of insurance.

When determining insurance premiums, insurance companies look at a variety of factors including industry trends like number of claims and costs to repair vehicles and homes. If those costs increase, the price of insurance premiums will likely increase as well.

Unfortunately, due to inflation these costs are increasing. Building materials for homes are more expensive, there’s a chip shortage driving up the cost of cars, and there’s also a labor shortage. These factors mean the cost to repair your home and vehicle have increased in the event of an insurance claim.

  • Housing material and labor costs have increased
    Lumber and other construction materials have spiked in price due to less availability making the costs to repair and build homes more expensive. At the same time, we’ve also seen an increase in the cost of skilled labor and the construction industry is down about 200,000 skilled trade workers1. These factors have likely increased your property insurance costs.
  • The chip shortage
    A crucial component of cars built today, fewer available chips results in more expensive cars, and as the cost of cars rise, so does the cost to repair if an accident occurs.
  • Auto repair and labor costs have increased
    With the chip shortage, more people are keeping their old cars on the road longer, needing more repairs. The increased demand for car parts combined with supply chain issues, are leading to inflated car part costs. Auto repair shops are also experiencing staffing shortages and increased labor costs which are also driving up the costs of repairs.

If you believe your insurance premiums are increasing due to inflation, you may be wondering what company offers the best coverage for the best price that meets your insurance needs.  As an independent agent, we can help.  Feel free to contact us at any time. 

1. https://hbi.org/wp-content/uploads/HBI-Construction-Labor-Market-Report4.pdf
2. Liberty Mutual



Spring Maintenance

The milder days of spring are a perfect time to do a thorough spring cleaning and perform home maintenance. After a long winter, it is a good idea to spend time on preventive measures to help maintain your home and property throughout the year. Tasks such as cleaning out your gutters, checking for dead trees and branches and cleaning and inspecting home mechanical and plumbing systems, such as heating and air conditioning equipment, can help make spring a season of safety.

Cleaning and maintenance of your home should be done inside and out. Although the tasks are different, checking to see if all the elements of your home are in good working order can help keep your family safe and your maintenance expenses lower over the long run.

Inside Your Home

Here are a few things inside your home that should be inspected to determine if they are in good condition:

  • Electrical Outlets and Cords: Check electrical outlets and cords throughout your home for any potential fire hazards such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Extension cords and power strips are not designed to be permanent fixtures and should only be used on an interim basis.
  • Fire Extinguishers: Check your fire extinguisher at least once yearly, including the hose, nozzle and other parts to determine if they are in good condition and that the pressure gauge is in the “green” range. Check the expiration date. If necessary, move your fire extinguisher to an accessible place so that you can get to it easily in an emergency.
  • Air Conditioning: Check around the unit for indications of leaks. Before turning it on for the season, have your air-conditioning system inspected and tuned up by a professional. Check the drain lines annually and clean them if they are clogged. Change the air filter.
  • Water Heater: Check for leaks and corrosion. Check your owner’s manual for any recommended maintenance.
  • Furnace or Boiler: Have your furnace or boiler cleaned or inspected annually.
  • Under Sinks and Around Toilets: Look for any signs of leaks or corrosion on pipes, supply lines and fixtures.
  • Plumbing: Check exposed pipes and valves in your basement or crawl spaces, if safely accessible, for signs of leaking or corrosion.
  • Appliances: Check supply lines for washing machines, ice makers and water dispensers, refrigerators, and dishwashers for signs of leaks or wear and tear.
  • Plumbing for Hose Spigots and Irrigation Systems: After opening valves for outdoor water supplies, be sure to inspect components for leaks. Don’t forget to check inside plumbing as well as outdoor spigots.
  • Dryers: Dryer lint can build up inside the vent pipe and collect around the duct. Clean both the clothes dryer exhaust duct and the space under the dryer. Use a brush to clean out the vent pipe. Look for lint buildup around the lint trap and clean it as needed.
  • Smoke Detectors: Daylight savings time is a good time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Inspect each smoke detector to determine if all are in working order, and make sure to test them monthly. Ideally, there should be at least one smoke detector on each floor of your home, including outside of each bedroom, and one within each bedroom itself.
  • Light bulbs: Check each light bulb in every fixture for the correct recommended wattage and replace any burned out bulbs.

Outside Your Home

The cold winter months can do damage to your house as well. Here are a few things outside your home that should be inspected to ensure they are in good condition:

  • Roof: Check for any damage from snow or ice, and make any necessary repairs to reduce the possibility of leaks. If you have a skylight, check outside for a buildup of leaves and debris. Also, check the indoor ceiling for signs of leaks. Remember to put safety first any time you are on a roof. If you have any doubt, leave it to the professionals.
  • Gutters: Clean leaves and other debris from gutters and downspouts to keep water flowing and reduce the possibility of water damage.
  • Trees: Visually inspect trees for damage or rot, and remove (consider hiring a licensed professional) any dead trees that might blow over in heavy winds or during a storm. Keep healthy trees and bushes trimmed and away from utility wires.
  • Lawn Equipment: Make sure lawn mowers, tractors and other equipment are tuned up before using. Store oil and gas for lawn equipment and tools in a vented, locked area.
  • Walkways and Driveways: Repair any cracks and broken or uneven surfaces to provide a safer, level walking area.

A little home maintenance in the spring can go a long way to help keep your home safe and secure throughout the rest of the year.

Ice Dams

What is an Ice Dam?

Ice dams are the large mass of ice that collets on the lower edge of the roof or in the gutters.
Indications that ice damming may be occurring:

  • Snow is melting but there is a line of ice or snow at the eaves that is not draining
  • Formation of large icicles from the eaves
  • Water is dripping out of the soffit or gutter
  • Shingles appear worn or faded on overhangs
  • Shingles have rolling humps or dips on eave line
  • Interior walls or ceilings have visible water damage under eaves

The Four Main Causes

  • Weather
  • Heat escaping to the attic
  • Uneven room temperatures
  • Roofing underlayment that water can penetrate

How to Minimize the Chance of Ice Dams Formations
Ice dams can be prevented or minimized by:

  • Keeping gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris
  • Identify areas of heat loss in your attic and properly insulate
  • Ensuring attic has proper, continuous ventilation under the roof deck
  • Using a snow rake or soft broom to clear fresh snowfall from gutters