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Leaking ceilingWhen water goes where it shouldn’t, even a small leak can become a major problem.  Know what you’re covered for.  Sudden and accidental water damage – like burst pipes – are generally coverage by your homeowner’s insurance policy.  However, it is important to know that not every type of water-related damage is covered.

 Here are a few tips to help you uncover potential problems and prevent water damage losses:

  1. Leaks and burst hoses and pipes are the leading cause of water damage in the home.  Sometimes it is just that the water pressure is set too high.  A $6 gauge can help you test your water pressure for the appropriate level of between 60 and 80 PSI (pounds per square inch).
  2. Standard hoses on new appliances are not as durable as they used to be.  Check your hoses. If they’re rubber, replace them with longer-lasting stainless steel braided hoses, or plan on replacing the rubber ones every three years.
  3. Cracked tile or grout in the bathroom can allow water to leak into the walls or floor.  Replace or re grout when needed.
  4. Worn, curled or missing shingles will allow water in.  Watch for problem areas and replace shingles that are wearing out.
  5. Gadgets such as water alarms and automatic shut-off mechanisms can help you find leaks or avoid bursts.
  6. Many times water damage happens when people are away from home.  It’s good practice to turn off the washing machine or dishwasher after each use and do not leave the house when the appliances are running.    Also, when you head out for vacation, turn off the water supply to appliances before you leave.
  7. When the hot water heater gets old and rust appears on the bottom, it is a good idea to replace before it breaks because the resulting water damage can cost you a lot more than a new hot water heater.

Some maintenance is required.  If something wears out or breaks on your car, you fix it.  It’s the same with your home.  Just like you take your car in for regular oil changes and maintenance, you should also do regular “check-ups” in your home.  Slow leaks from worn out hoses on you appliances can cause major damage, and often these damages aren’t covered under your insurance policy because they are caused by lack of maintenance.

Flood damage from rising water is not covered by your Homeowner insurance policy.  You must purchase a separate Flood policy which is backed by the Federal government and managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  A number of insurance companies participate in the NFIP and most insurance agents can write a flood policy for you.

You can purchase flood insurance even if you are not in a flood zone.  For more information about water damage or flood insurance contact your insurance agent.  You can find more information about flood insurance and locate an agent to write flood insurance for you through the NFIP official site at www.floodsmart.gov.
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