Treat your Home Like your Car
Like car insurance, homeowners insurance is very common these days, as more and more people buy homes. For some reason, however, policyholders seem to have a better understanding of how a car insurance policy works versus when coverage on a homeowners policy is triggered on a claim. Auto claims are most commonly made for two circumstances:
- Car accident
Car owners are aware there is general maintenance associated with owning a car such as:
- Tire replacement, rotation, and balancing
- Oil changes
These items are taken care of by the car owner as a part of routine car ownership. Vehicle owners do not think of placing a claim because their Toyota needs new shocks or their tires have lost their threads. Auto claims are placed when the vehicle has been in a car accident or has been stolen. When these events occur, the auto policy is activated, and payments can be made to the policyholder to bring them to the same financial position they were in prior to the accident or theft.
When the car has reached the end of its useful life, for example, it is 15 years old, has 200,000 miles, and the cost of fixing the broken transmission is more than the car is worth, do you file a claim to have your car replaced? No. In addition, if a vehicle owner partakes in vandalizing their own car, or is involved in the theft of their car, this is an act of insurance fraud. The policyholder may not only be denied their claim, but can be charged or faced with multiple counts of insurance fraud, ordered to pay fines, and possibly, serve jail time.
Similarly, coverage from a homeowners policy is activated when the home experiences damage caused by a covered peril. A covered peril is an insurance term used to describe the events which must occur in order for the insurance carrier to afford coverage for damages. Edison Insurance Company offers coverage for the perils of wind, hail, lightning, theft, or fire. Should any of these events cause damage to your home, your Edison policy may extend coverage to cover the repair or replacement of the damaged items; restoring you to the same financial position you were prior to the damage.
Oftentimes, homeowners misconstrue the available coverage when they experience damage to their home, as these policies are not maintenance policies. Homeowners should take heed of the regular needs of their home to avoid any unnecessary damage which may result in an uncovered loss and extra expenses.
Your Florida Home Maintenance Checklist:
We've developed a handy checklist with common maintenance items every Florida homeowner should perform throughout the year:
- Washer / Dryer - ensure all water hoses are in proper working order and are not leaking. Clean lint bins often to avoid fires.
- Water heaters - a common cause of flooding in homes. Water heaters should be replaced approximately every 6-10 years and should be examined monthly to detect leaks. Tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of about 20 years.
- Air Conditioning units - yearly or bi-yearly maintenance of your a/c unit can save thousands. Many a/c companies advise the useful life of a well-kept unit is about 10-15 years.
- Plumbing - check the hoses to your water lines, plumbing fixtures under your cabinets, and behind your toilets. Keep these areas tidy and free of clutter to easily identify if a slow leak is present. Water detection devices may be used to ensure the water is turned off from the home should there be a leak, avoiding major damage.
- Roof-roofs bear the brunt of the elements. General wear and tear take a toll on your roof over a period of time. Shingle roofs often need replacing after 15 years; while tile roofs last a little longer; approximately 20-25 years. Here is what to look for on your roof:
- Look inside the attic for any signs of moisture such as, stains or streaks, or beams of light which could indicate a larger issue.
- Check your shingle roofs for curling or granular loss. Shingles should lay flat on your roof, and should there be any curling or cracking, replacement needs to be made. Clean your gutters at least once a year and remove any stagnant debris where granules may have rolled into. Once the shingles begin to lose their granules it is a sign the roof is in need of replacement.
- Tile roofs tend to be sturdier; however, they can be easily cracked causing water to leak into your home. Look for cracked or loose tiles and ensure replacement before damage occurs.
- Flat roofs sustain the most damage and are in need of constant maintenance. Because there is no gradient to this type of roof, rainwater often accumulates in certain areas of the roof, resulting in additional pressure and wear and tear to occur. After a storm, if it is safe to do so, try to remove any water puddling on the flat-roofed portion of your home.
- Tree trimming - ensure branches are not touching the home or overhanging, as these may cause damage to the home during strong winds.
- Organize the outside of your home to eliminate any clutter or waste materials lying around causing damage to the ground and foundation of your home.
Fixing a broken appliance or replacing a roof when it reaches its useful life is extremely expensive, however, wear and tear is not a covered peril and therefore, the damage is not covered by your insurance policy and your claim may be denied. Damage must occur by a covered peril to activate coverage by your homeowners policy. For example, if lightning strikes your home causing an electrical surge to burn out the appliances in the home, the damage would be covered, as the damage was caused by the covered peril of lightning.
Home Maintenance and Insurance Go Hand in Hand to Protect Your Home
Owning a home is one of the most rewarding achievements in life, but with great achievements come great responsibilities. So, don't forget to change the oil and tires of your home when needed. Keeping your home in tip-top shape will afford you the peace of mind your family is residing in a safe place. However, home maintenance won't prevent all forms of damage and needs to be paired with home insurance to cover unexpected damage. In the event your home suffers damage by a covered peril, Edison Insurance Company is here to help. Ask your agent how our policy can afford you customizable coverage at competitive prices or call us at 866-568-8922.