Homeowners insured by a member of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies now have access to a toll-free hotline to help obtain answers to questions about preventing water damage in their homes.
The hotline is one of several Chubb services designed to help customers protect their homes and valuable possessions from loss. Chubb already offers a complimentary in-home appraisal service to customers, as well as loss prevention tips via its chubb.com Web site. Chubb’s appraisers, who help customers determine their homes’ replacement cost for insurance purposes, also provide homeowners with tips to help protect their property from fire, theft and water damage.
“Our new toll-free phone service, coupled with a home appraisal and other loss-prevention advice, helps our customers identify and minimize their exposure to water damage losses,” said Scott Spencer, worldwide home appraisal manager with Chubb Personal Insurance.
Home water-related losses are reportedly on the rise. The average cost for a claim from water damage or freezing rose 38 percent, from $2,519 in 1998 to $3,469 in 2002, according to the Insurance Services Office. Spencer said one contributing factor for this increase is the rising cost of construction resulting in more expensive homes that are elaborately finished and stocked with high-cost items, such as home theater systems, computers and fine art collections.
Water damage can be caused by a variety of problems, including prolonged rain, heavy snow, deteriorated appliances and hose connections, frozen or corroded pipes or clogged drains. “The key to protecting your home is knowing how to identify potential problems,” said Spencer. “Routine inspection and maintenance can help homeowners keep water where it belongs.”
The following tips can help individuals identify potential problem areas in and around their house.
— Know the location of shutoff valves for the main water supply, certain appliances, sinks and toilets in the home.
— Inspect the plumbing water lines and waste lines for leaks, damage or corrosion.
— Hire a licensed plumber to inspect and flush the water heater annually.
— Look for leaks in household appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers, icemakers, air conditioners and garbage disposals.
— Keep indoor moisture low, between 30% and 50%.
— Check caulking around tubs and shower stalls to ensure a watertight seal is maintained.
— Inspect the foundation walls and floors for cracks that might allow water seepage.
— Inspect the roof periodically. Missing, worn or broken roofing materials may allow water to penetrate and deteriorate the roof structure.
— Make sure gutters and downspouts are cleared of leaves and debris.
— Consider installing water detection devices throughout the home. A leak detection system can automatically shut the valve on the main water line in case of a leak.
The toll-free telephone service is available during normal business hours to Chubb homeowners insurance customers. Those interested in learning more about the hotline—as well as additional ways to prevent water damage, can visit www.chubb.com/personal/html/helpful_tips_home_basement.html.
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