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Make Time for Maintenance: The Top Four Reasons Your Home Insurance Claim Could Be Denied

By Amanda Reaume • Published August 3, 2017 • 6 Min Read

Oftentimes, all you need is a few tools and some elbow grease to put an end to these issues. Here are four of the most common reasons for denied claims.

Between your work schedule and your kids’ weekend practices and games, your home maintenance ‘To Do List’ might be at the bottom of your junk drawer with all those pizza coupons you keep forgetting to use. But not making time for home maintenance could cost you.

Not taking care of the smaller stuff like cleaning gutters or checking for leaks could translate into costly damage over time. It could also mean being rejected when you need to file an insurance claim. Here are four of the most common reasons for denied claims.

1. Appliance and Fixture Seepage

Drip. Drip. Drip. It might seem innocuous, but if you hear a slow dripping sound, fix it fast! Slow leakage can cause big damage as it leads to things like rot and mold. Be sure to check all your appliances and fixtures, as well as hot water heaters, washing machines, bathtubs, showers, and pipes for leaks on a regular basis.

Should You Fix it Yourself?

Oftentimes, all you need is a good wrench and some elbow grease to put an end to a leak, but depending on your level of DIY expertise, you might need to call a plumber if the problem persists, or if there’s a broken hose or cracked pipe.

Time it Will Take

Less than one hour to check everything every couple of months – or the equivalent of one episode of Game of Thrones you would have otherwise binge watched. You can wait a little longer to see which character is killed or comes back to life.

2. Foundation Seepage

You might love your big oak tree for its broad branches, but if you planted it too close to your foundation, you could be in for a world of trouble. Oaks are among the list of trees that are notorious for disturbing foundation walls, leading to water seepage. While being careful about how you landscape will help, there are other things you should do to make sure your basement doesn’t end up as damp and moldy as a bog. Ensure that water from your gutters or from watering plants drains away from your house, seal your porous masonry, and walk around your house every season to check for visible cracks in your foundation and get them fixed.

Should You Fix It Yourself?

If you have to move or cut down trees or plants, you might be able to do it yourself for the price of a few hours of sweat and a chainsaw. Fixing your downspouts and drainage can also be accomplished with a trip to the hardware store for splash pads and some hard work redoing the grading of your flower beds respectively. But make sure to call in a professional if you have cracks in your foundation – your best efforts with a can of caulk won’t cut it.

Time It Will Take

Fifteen minutes to walk around your yard once a season and see if anything needs to be done.

3. Roofing Deterioration

Got stains on your ceiling? That’s never a good sign! Roofs are expensive, but if they’re leaking they can create a lot of other costly problems like mold and rot in your house. It’s critical to spot and stop deterioration before your house starts to look like the green block of cheddar cheese you found in the back of your fridge. Cut back trees that might be dropping debris on your roof, clean out gutters seasonally, clear off large dumps of snow in the winter, install eaves protectors, check your attic for signs of water, make sure the flashing around your chimney is properly installed and not deteriorating, and check to see for damage or deterioration in roofing shingles.

Should You Fix It Yourself?

Cleaning gutters or installing eaves protectors is one of those quintessential yard chores homeowners have to do but grumble about. If you procrastinate every year, then hire someone rather than waiting for another season. If your roof needs a repair, don’t be a hero — call in the professionals.

Time it Will Take?

About 1 hour every season to visually inspect everything. Cleaning gutters is one of those jobs that can take a whole sunny summer afternoon when you’d rather be at the beach-so do it on a weekend when it’s overcast and everyone in the household is bored and a little stir-crazy and you won’t miss anything!

4. Windows and Siding Deterioration

Fog looks beautiful when it’s rolling in over the water in the early morning, but if the insides of your double or triple paned windows are foggy or full of condensation, you’ve got a problem with the seals. Check your windows every season for rot, moisture, warping, gaps between the casing and the wall, worn seals, and paint chips. You should check your siding seasonally as well. For wood siding, clean it yearly, re-stain or paint it every five years, apply sealant every two years, and replace damaged siding quickly. For vinyl siding, clean it yearly, paint it every seven to ten years, and replace it if damaged.

Should You Fix It Yourself?

Fixing small problems with windows by removing rot or applying some epoxy or caulk can be a piece of cake, but for larger issues, you might have to replace the window. When it comes to siding damage, get a professional. Trying to remove one piece of siding could pull up others and leave your house vulnerable.

Time It Will Take

A couple of hours once a season to inspect everything and perform some minor fixes — or the time it would take you to get dressed to go to the gym, do the laundry, clean the kitchen, start reading a good book, and then realize you’ve just been procrastinating about going to the gym.

Learn more about home insurance.

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This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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