Most homeowners understand the importance of proper maintenance to keep their home looking and functioning well for many years. What many don’t know is that property maintenance can also have a direct bearing on their home insurance claims.
Policies often stipulate that it is up to you to keep your property in tip-top shape. If you don’t do so, the insurance company may deny your claim. Considering the large scope of home maintenance duties, homeowners need to establish a system and keep proper records to show they’ve done their bit.
Common Claim Denials
The roof of your home protects the structure and contents. However, it is often ignored until there’s a problem. Unfortunately, a claim for damage caused by a poorly maintained roof won’t cut it. However, damage caused by a storm on a well-maintained roof probably will sail through the claims process.
Water damage caused by a cracked foundation is a maintenance issue, not an insurance issue. However, water damage caused by a pipe that suddenly bursts is usually covered by insurance.
Pests are another problem that your insurance probably won’t cover. Racoons, squirrels, termites, cockroaches, and other vermin are the homeowner’s responsibility as most insurance policies exclude coverage.
Use a Checklist
So, what should you check and how often? Of course, this depends on your home. However, this checklist provides a good starting point and you’ll find many more online.
Wisely, the checklist suggests spring and fall home inspections, just before the heat of summer and the cold of winter. Add home maintenance tasks to your calendar to ensure they get done.
Save all warranty documentation for any new windows and HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems. Don’t forget about appliance manuals and warranties for your washer/dryer, dishwasher, range hood, refrigerator, built-in microwave, and central vacuum. Check the fine print, as many manufacturers require annual maintenance if you want them to honor their warranty.
If you call a professional, they should provide you with a detailed invoice or report that outlines the work they did. For instance, an annual roofing inspection includes a checklist and recommendations for follow-up work. Contractors should list materials, work performed, and their warranty on workmanship.
It is especially important to keep detailed records of any improvements or alterations to your home. Retain blueprints, layouts, materials lists, and work orders as many times a contractor’s work ends up behind walls.
Receipts & Invoices
If you do work on your home, you must be able to prove it. Keep all receipts and detail the work performed. If you don’t want a paper file, scan the information and store it in the cloud. Should you need to file a claim, you’ll have the paperwork you need to show you do regular maintenance.
Understand Your Policy
Insurance policies are complicated documents, but an independent, local insurance agency like ours can help. We understand the details of each policy, exceptions, and exemptions and can explain everything to you in simple, plain language. This is especially important if you’re a member of an HOA, as some maintenance is up to you while some is their responsibility.
If you’d like someone to review your current policy, give us a call. Establish a maintenance schedule, retain receipts, invoices, and plans and care for your home. It will save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.