The numbers don’t lie: the American public is reportedly getting soaked when it comes to water damage, with 25 percent of homeowner-related insurance property losses involving claims related to water or freezing.
These claims result in an estimated $6.8 billion worth of property damage each year, according to the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). As alarming as these figures are, however, they fail to tell the real story, according to Tim Bowen, a claim manager at MetLife Auto & Home.
“Damage caused by water is the number one type of property claim that we handle,” said Bowen. “Every day, we see first-hand the effects of water damage. Many of these claims involve appliance failure-when the hoses in a washer, dishwasher, or icemaker grow old and burst. While you can replace a floor or a couch, you can’t replace the lifetime of memories-scrapbooks and pictures-that often get washed away or permanently altered.”
By taking a few precautionary measures, however, that does not have to happen. MetLife Auto & Home offers the following tips to help consumers stay safe:
— Check all the windows in the household and ensure that the seals are tight. Replace caulk as necessary, to avoid water seepage;
— Make certain that the tub and shower makes the grade-inspect the shower stall for leaks, and inspect and replace old or brittle caulking. In addition, check the sink and toilet. Water stains around the toilet may be an indication of damage to the rim and tank seals;
— In the kitchen, regularly examine the icemaker, dishwasher, sinks, and the garbage disposal for leaks. Also, replace these hoses every five years-a small investment that can prevent an expensive accident from occurring;
— Inspect the washing machine hoses and check for signs of brittleness or corrosion. Experts recommend changing standard rubber hoses to stainless steel reinforced hoses, which will reduce the likelihood of leaks, and guarantee a longer life. Also, consider installing a water supply box to the washer. This type of shut-off valve can come in handy during vacations;
— Check the hot water heater for leaks and corrosion. Rust is a sign of imminent tank failure;
— For valuables, keepsakes, and other memorabilia that is not regularly displayed, or kept in the cellar, consider plastic storage
containers. These containers are relatively inexpensive and can weather the elements better than other alternatives;
— If living in an area that is subject to freezing weather, be sure to
winterize the exterior faucets.
For more information about water safety, MetLife Auto & Home offers a free brochure called “Water, Water, Everywhere: How to Prevent Water Damage,” which can be obtained by calling (800) 638-5433 (1-800-MET-LIFE). Also available is a free Personal Property Inventory brochure, in either Spanish or English, which enables property owners to keep careful track of their valuables-an invaluable resource, if they ever need to file a claim. A downloadable version of the inventory is available by clicking “Home Insurance” and then accessing “Home Safety Tips” at www.metlife.com.
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