View our most common summer homeowners claims and how you can skirt them
- What are the most common homeowners claims we see? Damage from outdoor fires, pool accidents, overlooked home maintenance and burglaries while you’re away.
- Outdoor grills, fire pits and fireworks can cause injury and significant home damage. Learn safety tips to thwart the danger.
- If you have a pool, view these safety steps to ensure everyone’s safety.
- Summer is the time to do an exterior inspection. Read our list of what to look for.
- Burglaries rise 11 percent during summer. View these tips to keep your home safe.
School’s out. COVID-19 is on the wane (hopefully!). With warm weather and blue skies here, we’re providing you with the most common summer homeowners claims – and how you can prevent them.
Summer involves a lot of outdoor time, grilling burgers, visiting around a fire pit or setting off fireworks with the kids. And these three activities cause a lot of out-of-control fires, a major cause of summer homeowners claims.
Outdoor grills. In 2014-2018, grills, hibachis or barbecues were involved in an average of 10,600 home fires per year, including an average of 4,900 structure fires and 5,700 outside or unclassified fires. These fires caused an average of 10 deaths, 160 injuries, and $149 million in direct property damage annually.
Gas grill fires comprise d 84 percent of the fires. Grill fires are most likely to start when either cooking materials (including food), flammable or combustible liquids or gas ignited. Leading factors contributing to grill fires were failure to clean, leaks or breaks, leaving the grill unattended or having the grill too close to something that could catch fire.
How can you prevent grilling fires? Check your gas grill before igniting for any leaks, clean the grill before use, keep any flammables far from the grill, and don’t leave it unattended.
Related: Top homeowners risks (and tips on how to lower them)
Fire pits. Your pit should be at least 10 feet away from any structure or combustible surface. Don’t light the fire on windy days, as embers can carry dozens of feet away, smolder slowly, then ignite into flames much later…like the middle of the night. Soft woods like pine, spruce or cedar can pop and throw sparks, so hardwood is preferable. Keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose close by.
Experts also say don’t wear flammable or loose-fitting clothing, and keep kids and pets at least three feet away.
Fireworks. In many places in the U.S., setting off fireworks at home is prohibited. If it’s allowed in your area, never leave your kids unsupervised. Have a fire extinguisher and garden hose nearby. And use your common sense!
No one wants to think of the worst case scenario, but here it is: Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 and 4, says the CDC. An average of 390 deaths a year are attributed to drowning in a swimming pool or at a spa, says the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Not concerned yet? Here are a few more stats:
- 74 percent of fatal pool accidents occurred at residential locations
- 73 percent nonfatal swimming pool injuries involved children younger than 5
- Almost 6,500 children younger than 15 years old were treated for pool injuries from 2015-2017
- Males younger than 15 were twice as likely to be involved in a fatal drowning than females
Whether you just have an inflatable pool for little kids, a hot tub, or an in-ground or above-ground pool, always supervise kids at play. It goes without saying that your children should be trained swimmers. But you’ll also want to check out the swimming ability of any visiting kids, because non-swimmers will require extra attention. Be sure to have flotation devices, pool tubes, etc. handy. It’s also a good idea for an adult in the home to be CPR-certified.
Related: Our top 6 summer personal insurance claims, and how you can help your clients prevent them
Ensure that the fencing and gates around your pool are strong enough to withstand any ambitious child. Keep those gates locked. You may want to consider a gate alarm to alert you of anyone trying to sneak into the pool. Another prevention tool is your pool cover. Pool covers not only prevent water evaporation, but they can also prevent anyone from falling in.
Home maintenance to prevent summer homeowners claims
While you’re careful to slather sunscreen on yourself and the kids, you may not be as aware of prevention and maintenance items that your home needs. The list below is a good place to start an inventory as to what may be needed this summer season.
- Check outside for any tree limbs too close to the house that could cause damage during a storm.
- Check for loose shingles or siding that could go flying in high wind.
- Ensure all windows are able to stay open on their own, without the danger of them closing on a child. And inspect your screens for any holes, ensuring they’re on tight.
- See any cracks, especially around windows or doors? Fill them with caulk and/or add weatherstripping.
- Look for any upheavals or uneven spots in sidewalks and pavements, and have them filled or ground down for safety.
- Inspect your roof, clean your gutters and check downspouts to make sure they’re all functioning properly.
How to prevent a burglary while you’re away
It stands to reason that since so many people go away for vacation, burglars are very busy. Add to that the fact that we’ve all had to stay home for a year, thanks to the pandemic, and we’re all raring to get away. But did you know there’s an 11 percent rise in break-ins during the summer (Bureau of Justice Statistics)? There are several things you can do to prevent theft as a summer homeowners claim. So before you go, consider these prevention tips.
- Unplug all unnecessary appliances to reduce energy cost and fire risk.
- Consider turning off all water to the house. If that’s not possible because your sprinklers need to come on, then at least turn off water to the fridge and the washer.
- Check smoke detectors and batteries.
- Set the thermostat to an “away” setting to save energy.
- Use smart electronics or timers to turn off and on lights, TV or radio at various times.
- Ask a friend, neighbor or relative if they are available for emergency situations and to monitor the home for any damage.
- Have the Post Office stop your mail.
- If you’re gone longer than a week or so, have someone scheduled to mow your lawn.
- Double-check all windows and doors to ensure they’re locked.
- Be creative where you hide any valuables. Thieves know the most common places to look.
- Make use of your safe deposit box to store jewelry, cash, coin collections, etc.
Don’t become a summer statistic! Use (and share!) these safety tips to remove the chance of your needing to file a summer homeowners claim, and enjoy a safe, healthy and happy summer!