The value of homeowners insurance is often thrust into the national spotlight when natural disasters happen. The devastation and financial loss they can cause reinforces the importance of making sure you have adequate insurance coverage to rebuild if disaster strikes your home.
In 2022 alone, the U.S. was struck by 18 separate billion-dollar disaster events, resulting in $171.5 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Thankfully, most Americans don’t experience large-scale natural catastrophes, but millions of homeowners do experience some kind of property loss each year and need to make an insurance claim. The most commonly reported homeowners insurance claims are actually the result of events that can occur at any time, so it’s important for homeowners to be prepared for these potential risks.
Water damage claims are most common
“Water claims are the ones we see most often,” says Bonnie Lee, Vice President of Property Claims at Mercury Insurance. “While certain perils are seasonal, water damage can occur any time of year. It’s important for homeowners to conduct routine maintenance of appliance hoses and water pipes to make sure there aren’t cracks or leaks and, if any are detected, have them repaired or replaced immediately.
“Another thing everyone can do to protect their homes from leaks is turn off their main water supply when they’re away for an extended period of time. No one wants to return from a relaxing vacation to find water running through their home.”
Smart home technology also delivers an extra layer of protection for homeowners by providing 24/7 monitoring to help detect water pipe leaks. Professionally installed water pressure sensors, for example, work with most smartphones and can, among other things, automatically shut off the home’s main water supply if a leak or burst pipe is detected. And the best part is that insurance companies like Mercury Insurance will often provide a discount for homes that implement this technology.
Lee also notes that most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage caused by rising water from storms or overflowing bodies of water, so she recommends homeowners consult with their local insurance agent to learn how to protect against these types of events.
Fire damage is a concern for homeowners
While water claims are the most common, fire damage is another possible concern for homeowners and can be caused in several ways.
The National Fire Protection Association reports local fire departments responded to 1,353,500 fires in 2021, resulting in $15.9 billion in property damage. Lee suggests controlling the things you can and mitigating against the perils you can’t.
“Most home fires happen when people are inattentive or negligent,” she said. “These fires are preventable if people don’t leave things like lit stoves, fireplaces, candles or portable heat sources unattended. You should also refrain from overloading electrical outlets and using appliances with frayed electrical cords. These things seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how many claims we see that result from simply not paying attention.
“Wildfires can be extremely scary and dangerous and there is often little warning when they sweep through areas, leaving homeowners little time to protect their homes. Most of this work needs to be done before a fire erupts. Homeowners can mitigate against this risk by keeping their yards free of dry brush, grass clippings and twigs, keep tree branches trimmed and bushes pruned. They should also make sure their roofs and gutters are cleared of leaves and debris.”
Theft can be costly
Theft doesn’t necessarily pose a threat to the physical structure of a home, but it too can be costly and it often leaves homeowners feeling scared and violated.
Homeowners can help safeguard against theft by taking simple, but often overlooked precautions like ensuring doors and windows are locked, and not leaving spare keys in easy-to-find locations.
Several smart home devices can also aid in deterring potential thieves by allowing homeowners to adjust lights, monitor security cameras and activate security systems from their smartphones even when they’re away from home.
“Our claims team strives to get our customers back on their feet after a loss,” said Lee. “Our hope is that people never experience such an event in the first place, but if they do we want them to know that it is our goal to help them get their lives back to normal as quickly as possible.”
About Mercury Insurance
Mercury Insurance is a multiple-line insurance carrier predominantly offering personal auto, homeowners and renters insurance through a network of independent agents in California Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia, as well as auto insurance in Florida. Mercury writes other lines of insurance in various states, including commercial, business owners and business auto, landlord, home-sharing, ride-hailing and mechanical protection insurance.
Since 1962, Mercury has provided customers with tremendous value for their insurance dollar by pairing ultracompetitive rates with excellent customer service. Mercury has earned “A” ratings from A.M. Best and Fitch, as well as “Best Auto Insurance Company” designations from Forbes and Insure.com.
For more information visit MercuryInsurance.com or follow the company on Twitter or Facebook.