Category: Home Ownership article

Own a Home and Want to Save on Insurance? Try These Maintenance Tips First.

If you own a home, chances are, you’re going to eventually make some upgrades. From installing new kitchen countertops or adding a patio, home improvements can be exciting. But did you know some improvements can also help you save on home insurance? It’s true: Some home maintenance endeavors can actually lower the cost of your premium or help you avoid a costly insurance claim.

Get ready to roll up your sleeves and start with one of these projects first. It may help save you money on insurance long term.

Replace or repair your roof.

Did you know replacing an old roof can lower the cost of your homeowners insurance premium? Many factors can impact the condition of your roof including severe weather, age, roofing material and overall climate.1 In general, it is recommended that homeowners replace their home’s roof once it is past its usable life and in poor condition.

The truth is, replacing an older roof and upgrading roof ventilation is a good idea because it can help prevent these costly issues:2

  • Water leaks through the roof and around flashings at the chimney or other roof penetrations
  • Mold that grows in insulation, wood and in other materials
  • Condensation and moisture problems in the attic
  • High utility bills caused by escaping heat or cooled air

If you see visible issues, like cracked, missing or curling shingles, it may be time for a new roof.3 It’s a costly upgrade, but just think, a new roof can help prevent major water damage from occurring and help you save money in utility bills and home insurance. If you live in a cold climate, it also gives you an opportunity for added protection by installing ice and water shield under the shingles along the eves to prevent interior water damage from ice dams. If you live in a hail-prone region, talk to your contractor about upgrading to impact-resistant roofing materials.
 

“Saving water doesn’t just save you money, it’s also good for the planet!” — Adam Kostecki, Senior Assistant Vice President at Amica

Install smart home technology to prevent plumbing leaks.

According to Adam Kostecki, Senior Assistant Vice President at Amica, water damage is one of the most common sources of homeowners insurance claims. And a large percentage of those claims could be prevented with simple smart home technology. There are two main types of smart home devices that can help prevent water damage: point sensors and “all-in-one” devices, both of which are detailed below.

  • Point sensors:

    You can place them anywhere in your home where you might expect a leak to happen, such as near the hot water heater, next to your washing machine or underneath the sinks in kitchens and bathrooms. Some are wi-fi connected so there is no additional hub required. These devices can alert you at the first sign of water.

  • Sensors with automatic shut-off technology:

    Usually this technology is integrated into your home’s plumbing system. As a result, they can also measure the water’s temperature and pressure, and alert you when there’s an unusual amount of water being used.

“When you use these technologies, you can also learn how much water you’re using. Sure, it tells you if you have a leak, but it can also tell you which fixtures use the most water – and help you direct your conservation efforts to taking shorter showers and replacing older, less efficient toilets,” says Kostecki. “Saving water doesn’t just save you money, it’s also good for the planet!”

Amica offers a discount for homeowners who install leak detection technology. Talk to an Amica professional today about how water leak detection technology can impact your premium.

Not ready to install new smart home technology? Kostecki says there are other steps you can take to prevent water damage, which can help you save on your premium, too. Many of these steps should be part of your regular home maintenance schedule.

  • Toilets:

    Once a month, look around the toilet for leakage. Check the water supply line to ensure it’s in good condition–not worn, cracked or actively leaking. Pay special attention to the base of the toilet and look for staining or discoloration in the tile or on ceilings below – as those are common signs the wax seal may be leaking.4 That’s a quick fix if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty – or call a plumber to help out.

  • Hot water heater:

    Know the age of your home’s hot water heater – the manufacture date is typically listed on a label right on the side of the unit. Most tank-type units will fail between eight and 12 years, depending on your water quality. If you want to extend the life of your water heater, they usually have an anode rod that can be replaced every few years. Regardless of age, you should periodically inspect around your hot water heater to look for issues. Check for rust around the base or corrosion around the supply lines feeding it – as those are the most common failure points. “A quick inspection can help you identify issues early and schedule a replacement before a leak occurs,” says Kostecki.

  • Kitchen and bathroom faucets:

    Every year, inspect your kitchen and bathroom sinks. You’ll want to look for loose connections in the plumbing or drips from the drain line. Kostecki continues, “Many times, people have so many items piled under their sinks that they don’t notice a leak. Then suddenly, they find out the base cabinet in the kitchen or the bathroom vanity has completely rotted.”

  • Washing machine:

    Once or twice a year, check the supply lines to the washing machine. If your washing machine has old, black rubber hoses, upgrade them to braided stainless steel lines, which are less likely to burst. Most washing machines have an easily accessible shut-off valve – consider shutting the water supply off when not in use.

  • AC units:

    Be sure to change your HVAC filters every three to four months depending on usage, or even sooner if you have pets or are doing interior renovations as dust builds quickly. Before you start running your AC unit each year, check the drip pan and drain lines for excess debris and dust. When the drain lines clog, it can’t release the condensation, and an overflow leak can occur. To keep your AC drain lines clear, you can flush them annually with distilled vinegar.

  • Sump pump:

    If your home has a sump pump, first make sure you have the right coverage on your policy – there is a separate endorsement that covers discharge or leaks from sump pumps and related equipment. Check on your sump pump whenever there’s heavy rainfall. Make sure it’s plugged in and the float switch is operating properly.

  • Shower and bathtub:

    It’s important to maintain the caulking around your shower walls and where they meet the tub. The caulking is what seals water in and helps prevents leaks. Usually caulking lasts about six years, but it’s important to check on its state yearly.5

Need help putting together a solid schedule for making improvements to your home? Amica can help. Download the Home Check by AmicaTM app today.

Replace sections of plumbing.

On average, it can cost $1,077 to update smaller sections of piping in your home’s plumbing system. But it may be well worth the update, especially with some plumbing materials, like galvanized steel or polybutylene, which, according to Kostecki, are notorious for prematurely causing leaks. Not only does an updated plumbing system help prevent pipes from bursting and major water damage from occurring, but it can also save you money on your insurance premium.6

For plumbing jobs, consider calling a professional to help. It’s well worth paying an expert to ensure your pipe sections are replaced correctly. But handy homeowners can do the job on their own, too. Either way, replacing worn or faulty plumbing can make a major difference in preventing future water damage.

Add a home security system.

More than one million burglaries happen in the U.S. every year.7 But many of them can be prevented with home security systems, like motion sensors, cameras, broken glass detectors and more. Unfortunately, nearly 75% of Americans haven’t invested in this type of technology yet.

Not only are home security systems easy to install, but they also can give you discounts on your homeowners insurance policy, depending on where you live. If you’re thinking about adding a home security system, it’s best to call your insurer first. Ask if they offer a discount, and if so, which device you need to purchase to qualify.

Assess your home’s electrical wiring.

If your home is over 20 years old, it may be time to update your electrical wiring. Old wiring may not be able to handle the electricity of today’s TVs, computers, appliances and more.8 An upgrade to your electrical system may earn you a discount on your insurance premium since your home will be less at risk for fires.6 Normally, a home’s breaker will shut off electricity when it gets overloaded, but unfortunately, some breaker boxes have worn connectors, which allow fires to happen.8

Call an electrician to get your home’s electrical system inspected. They may make recommendations that can help prevent an electrical fire from occurring in your home.

Install deadbolt locks.

Even if you’ve already installed a solid home security system, it’s worth adding deadbolt locks to your doors, too. Installing a new deadbolt is affordable, at just $40 to $75 for the cost of installation, plus the lock. This easy upgrade can help take a little money off the cost of your insurance premium.6

Better yet, try installing a smart deadbolt lock, which can lock and unlock your door from your mobile device. This is especially convenient if you need to let someone in the house while you’re not home, or if you leave and forget to lock the doors.

Invest in storm-resistant windows.

If you live in an area of the country that’s prone to wind or hailstorms, ask your insurer about discounts for adding storm-resistant windows and storm shutters. Depending on where you live and your risk, you may qualify for deep discounts by protecting your home and windows from severe storms.

Take some time to do research based on the type of damage that’s most likely to occur where you live. For example, if you live in an area that experiences frequent hurricanes, you may want to consider installing reinforced garage doors or windows that can withstand heavy impact from debris.

When in doubt…

Call your homeowners insurance company to discuss which updates make the most sense for your home. Chances are, they already have an idea about which parts of your home are most at risk. They can also let you know about any discounts for which you may qualify. Remember, some home maintenance repairs can actually pay for themselves. The key is, making time to update your home in the ways that protects it the most.

 

  • Can Renovating Your House Lower Your Insurance Costs? Value Penguin, August 23, 2021.
  • What Really Happens If You Don’t Replace Your Roof? WorthView.com October 15, 2017.
  • 7 Signs You Need a New Roof, BobVila.com, 2021.
  • How Often Should Wax Toilet Seals Be Replaced? SFGate, December 14, 2018.
  • When is it Time to Recaulk Your Bathroom? Mr. Handyman, August 22, 2017.
  • These 15 Home Improvements Deliver Big Insurance Discounts, MoneyPit.com, n.d.
  • 6 Surprising Home Burglary Facts And Stats, Forbes, September 14, 2021.
  • 5 Common Causes Of Electrical Fires, FireRescue1.com, July 24, 2020.

Want to learn more about Amica home insurance? Call today for a free personalized consultation.

833-513-3881 833-513-3882