$1.4 Billion Dollars in Claims this Year: Prepare for the Unexpected

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Colorado has it all. When it comes to homeowners’ insurance claims, it sometimes has more than its share.

Collapsed roofs overloaded with snow, frozen pipes that burst and flood, ice loaded tree branches falling on houses and people – all of these have their place in the annual list of insurance claims submitted by home owners.

One event tops them all. According to TrustedChoice.com, claims from wind and hail damage head the list in Colorado. This year alone hail damage has resulted in $1.4 billion in insurance claims.

The Lesson — Think Outside the Box

Hail in the land of winter sports and pristine mountain air? Surprising as it may be, Colorado is second in the country, behind Texas, in hail damage.

There is a lesson here. Prepare for the unexpected, and think outside the box.

Everyone is familiar with the common risks facing Colorado homeowners – fire, theft, lightning, random property damage, and the previously mentioned wind and hail. Each year home owners file claims for other less common events only to find out that they are not covered by their insurance policy.

Preparing for the Unexpected Requires Action

There is a difference between worrying about risk and preparing for it. Preparation requires action and prevention when possible.

Taking a little preventive action to lessen risks can reduce your liability and your insurance claims experience, which is a good thing for your premiums. Here are a few common risks that you can think about outside the box:

  • Chimney fires – Creosote buildup in chimneys can ignite causing a fire that can spread into walls, across the roof, and into the house. Prevention requires proper chimney maintenance and burning only seasoned wood as much as possible.
  • Kitchen Fires – Stove, oven, range, and microwave fires top the list in causes of house fires, with 152,600 fires annually. Most of these are preventable with common sense and good safety practices around the home.
  • Water leaks – Frozen pipes in Colorado are not news but think of the unexpected. Outside hose bibs and faucets are susceptible to freeze. Make sure that hoses are disconnected, and water is securely off. Toilets, bathroom sinks, and showers should be inspected periodically and kept in good repair.
  • Backyard toys – Did you know that injuries from children playing on trampolines in the backyard exceed those occurring in backyard swimming pools? Swing sets, outdoor gyms, tree houses are all great fun for the kids, but they also present the risk of liability for homeowners. Properly maintaining the equipment and insisting on safe play by children is essential.
  • Dog bites – If you have a pet, you are probably aware that you should have coverage that protects you if Fido happens to take a nip at the neighbor, or even worse, a child visiting your home. You should also know that some insurance policies don’t cover bites by breeds like Great Danes, Chows, German Shepherds and Pit Bulls without a rider for that coverage. Choose carefully in selecting pets and make sure they are well-trained and socialized with people and other animals. A well-mannered pet will rarely create a problem or an insurance claim.

These are just a few examples of thinking outside the box to reduce common insurance risks. Shade tree mechanics, garage hobbyists, wood workers, home brewers and do-it-yourselfers of all types engage in activities that could result in a homeowner’s insurance claim.

Think about what you and others do in your home and the equipment you use to do it. Identify potential risk and take action to reduce it.

Homeowners Insurance — Your Last Stand Against the Unexpected

On average 1 in 15 Colorado homes has an insurance claim each year. In the most recent reporting period, insurance companies paid out $1,823,339,000 in Colorado homeowners’ insurance claims.

Your homeowner’s insurance policy should be your last stand against unexpected claims. Too often, however, home owners buy insurance as a safety blanket, only to discover that when they need it the most, they have not prepared for the unexpected.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, always revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance producer for USA Today, and a contributor at Technorati. She lives in Utah with her 2 kids and husband. Melissa Thompson can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter @melthompson88. Please follow and friend her on either site.