Most Dangerous Mistakes Homeowners Make: Tips for a Safe, Secure Home

More than large gestures, neglect and small actions every day put homes at greater risk than anyone thinks, says Marvcus Williams, an insurance consultant and former claims investigator and adjustor based in St. Louis, MO.

“The things people do and they way they live put them more at risk than they think,” says Williams. “Just being aware of the dangers that could arise can prevent many claims.”

No new home inspections.

“You’d be surprised how many people don’t get an inspector to come when they’re buying a new home,” Williams says. While the first inclination may be that new homes don’t require the thorough once-over accepted on older homes, think again. Inspectors can uncover otherwise unapparent items such as furnaces that aren’t vented properly or slow-leaking plumbing.

Not understanding policies.

Homeowners should be sure they know exactly what their home coverage includes. Don’t assume that obvious major items are covered. “A lot of policies don’t cover earthquake damage, sure, but a lot don’t cover sewer backup either unless you have an endorsement,” says Williams. Know what’s covered before you really have to.

Thinking rain is just rain.

Normal routine maintenance can be homeowners’ best defense, particularly after what may seem like just a storm. A storm with pea-size hail may come through with virtually no damage left behind, but simple rain may leave a different legacy of leaks. “I remember one case with a customer who had a leak because the caulk around the vent flashing cracked, and you could actually see into the attic when you were standing on the roof,” says Williams. “It was from just a good rain.”

Leaving limbs extended.

Trees provide beautiful shade and privacy, but dangers lurk among those leaves. Homeowners are often reluctant to pay the several-hundred-dollar cost to trim back the tree, but remember, most deductibles are at least £500. Says Williams: “You save money in the long run when a good wind sends that limb through your roof.”

Clogged chimneys.

Lighting a fire may bring warmth homeowners don’t welcome if chimneys aren’t cleaned out each season. “A bird’s nest or creosote buildup can cause a fire, especially if you don’t use it all that often, then start it right up,” Williams says.

Routine neglect.

Regular home maintenance is the key to safety and security. That includes annual furnace cleaning, regular water heater inspections and even being aware of your roof condition. Even showers can cause damage like cracks in vent flashing, as one homeowner found out. “I was standing on his roof and could actually see in the attic,” says Williams. “It was just a good rain.”

Common Fire Hazards

  1. Older small appliances left plugged in (toasters, etc.)
  2. Dryer vents that haven’t been cleaned out
  3. Curling irons
  4. Candles
  5. Irons
  6. Kids playing with matches

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