Erie Insurance: 6 ways to prevent water damage

No. 1: Plumbing failure from frozen, rusted or leaky pipes.

Look for any telltale signs of leaks like unusually high water bills, mold or mildew growth, water stains on walls and warm spots on your floor. To prevent frozen pipes, keep your home’s temperature no lower than 55 degrees. Read more about what every homeowner should know about frozen pipes. (Photo: ALM archives)

No. 2: Plumbing drain system failures.

Drain system failures are more common when your local storm water system is tied to your home’s sewer system. To prevent problems, install a backflow prevention assembly in your drain system. Also, remember to refrain from pouring grease down your drain; instead, let it cool before bagging and trashing it. While grease disposal is a no-brainer, it’s best to seek professional help installing a backflow prevention assembly. (Photo: Andrey_Popov/

No. 3: Weak washing machine hoses.

Replace hoses every five years – and choose a reinforced steel-braided hose over a less durable rubber hose. And if your washer has seen better days, it might be time to replace the whole thing to prevent bigger issues. Replacing a hose is a moderate job, if you’re somewhat handy. Otherwise, call your plumber. (Photo: Shutterstock)

No. 4: Water heater failure.

Replace the “sacrificial” anode rod that diverts corrosion away from the tank at least once every two years. Also, flush your tank every six months to prevent sediment buildup. This is especially important if you have hard water. (Photo: JohnnyMrNinja via Wikipedia Commons)

No. 5: Pooling water against the wall of the house.

Redirect the water with a waterproof membrane or a French drain (a ditch in the ground inset with a perforated pipe that’s then covered with a layer of gravel). While adding the membrane isn’t a difficult job, a French drain installation is best left to the pros. (Tony Webster via Wikipedia Commons)

No. 6: Weak roof coverings that allow rainwater seep in.

Seal your roof to add an extra barrier against the water. Replacing a roof is one of the most expensive things a homeowner will encounter, so it’s also a good idea to understand what your homeowners’ policy covers when it comes to a damaged roof. This job can be difficult as well as dangerous, so leave any roof sealing jobs to a licensed roofer. (Free Use Image/ALM archives)

Water damage is among the leading causes of home insurance claims.

Consider that one in 50 homeowners files a water-damage claim each year, which accounts for roughly a third of all home insurance claims, according to Forbes and the Insurance Information Institute. The average cost of these repairs: $11,098.

Chubb’s Fifth Annual Homeowner’s Risk Report, conducted in November/December 2021, characterizes even more dramatic water-damage statistics.

“Ongoing research shows that water damage is all too often an overlooked risk,” writes Mary Parsons, Sales & Distribution Leader at Chubb Personal Risk Services. “Such losses are happening more often than fire and burglary, according to Chubb claims data. And the number of losses is only increasing.”

According to Chubb, 44% of U.S. homeowners have experienced a water loss in the last two years, a statistics that’s up from 27% in 2020. The average claim can be as high as $50,000, Chubb reports.

“Whenever possible, agents and brokers should encourage their clients to install water shut-off devices in homes or point-of-leak sensors in condominiums or apartments to help prevent water leaks from causing major damage,” Parsons continues. “It is also effective to share stories about the inconvenience of water damage, as clients will typically need to be out of their homes for an average of three months for water damage repairs, according to Chubb claims experience.”

The insurance experts at Erie Insurance suggest talking with insureds about picking up extra coverage to safeguard against water damage. The carrier recently compiled six tips to educate property owners about this common loss. That advice is outlined in the slideshow above.

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