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Easy Fixes for Some of Your Homes Biggest Hazards

While you work hard to make your home safe and pleasant, there are dangers that could be lurking. This year’s top homeowner’s insurance claims include weather, fire, water damage and theft. The good news is you can take measures to minimize the effects of these hazards and recover from those that do cause harm.

A homeowner’s insurance policy can provide financial help with repairs following a covered loss. Generally speaking, home insurance policies can provide coverage for items, such as: the dwelling itself; your personal property inside the dwelling; additional living expenses if you can’t live in your home during repairs following a covered loss; and certain damages for which you may be legally liable, for example, if a visitor is injured on your property.

However, the best scenario is avoiding a homeowner’s insurance claim in the first place. Fortunately, there are some easy things you can do to help eliminate the most common hazards before they trigger a loss. Here’s a quick review of the top risks homeowners face, along with ideas for helping avoid them. 

Biggest Threats to a House

The primary causes of property damage are wind/hail and lightning/fire (fire includes non-weather-related events), with each category accounting for about one third of all homeowner’s insurance losses, according to research firm Value Penguin. These are closely followed by water damage, which is involved in nearly a fourth of homeowner’s insurance claims. 

While you can’t prevent all property damage, you can prepare. 

When confronted by a storm, make sure anything that could become a projectile – umbrellas, patio furniture and even kids’ toys – is secured or put away.

To minimize wildfire or brushfire damage, remove any dry “fuel,” such as pine needles, dead leaves/grass, encroaching branches and other combustibles around your home that can ignite or feed a fire. 

To help prevent water damage, insulate your pipes so they don’t freeze and burst, keep your home at 65 degrees or warmer, maintain your roof and gutters, and fix any roof or pipe leaks immediately. Note that most insurance policies won’t cover damage caused by failure to maintain the home.

Be sure to have a disaster preparation and response plan. How long has it been since you recharged your fire extinguishers? Do you have a safe area in your basement for use during tornadoes or an evacuation plan and meeting place established for other emergencies? Where are your critical documents, such as your list of emergency contacts, insurance policies, birth certificates and other essential documents?

Home Fires

Most home fires start from unattended stovetops, so make sure you use a timer and never leave the house while cooking. You might consider using a fire suppression canister on your hood vent or the cabinets above your burners to knock down a fire that does flare. Do a twice-yearly check to be sure your smoke detectors are in working order with battery backup at all times, and keep space heaters, candles and lit cigarettes away from fabrics.

Electrical fires are increasingly common. Several makes of vehicles have been recalled over the past few years due to automatic fires while the vehicle is off or charging, and some manufacturers now recommend parking electric vehicles outside. Check your make and model for safety updates regarding fires.

To reduce the risk of non-vehicle electrical fires, use UL-approved devices, don’t overload outlets or circuits and do check outlets and lamps that flicker. 

Mold and Wood Rot

When a home is damaged by water, mold can grow on walls and fabrics, and wood floors, cabinets and framing can warp or rot. Such problems can occur due to a slow leak, inadequate ventilation or water incursion. While each homeowner’s policy will explain when mold or wood rot is or is not covered, lack of maintenance is one reason your claim could be denied. 

To avoid a mold or rot issue, check for and promptly fix leaks. Ventilate and use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to keep humidity levels below 60% and ideally between 30% and 50%. Do not carpet bathrooms or basements. And read your policy to see what you must do if you get a wet ceiling or other water damage.


While only 1% of property claims are due to theft, it deserves a mention because, when theft occurs, losses are serious. Jewelry, electronics, bicycles, tools, firearms, cash and automobiles are particular targets. 

Measures you can take to minimize theft of high-value items include installing deadbolts on all doors, keeping your garage door closed even when you’re home, being home when service people are in your house, placing valuables in a lockbox or safe that can’t be easily carried, and renting a safe deposit box at your bank.

Keep an up-to-date inventory of your valuables along with any appropriate appraisals; it will help if you have a claim. And talk to your insurance agent about high-value items in your home. Some might require additional coverage or another insurance policy for full protection.

Westfield Meets Homeowners’ Insurance Needs

Whether you have a townhome, condo, single-family home or high-value home, Westfield helps protect your investment with our various home insurance products. From damage to your structure to special personal property coverage to your liability for injuries occurring on your property, Westfield stands by you. Talk to a Westfield agent about the protection we offer so you can enhance good care of your home with great insurance!