Your Place: An ounce of prevention can mean fewer homeowners’ insurance claims

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

I visited my independent insurance broker a few weeks ago — the first time I’ve crossed his office threshold since November 2001, when I obtained our auto and homeowners’ policies through him.

We have both gotten older, of course. But when I look at the cable-TV commercials and the unsolicited mail offering "cheaper" insurance or more compassionate providers, I immediately remember that my 15-year-old arrangement has been angst-free, even when, in 2010, a driver who said the stop sign was invisible T-boned our car into a pile of parts and broken glass.

I don’t have coverage with Farmers, but the insurer is a great source of claims data that are regularly shared.

The data show that the potential for home-insurance claims tied to liability and fire should be at the forefront of homeowners’ minds in the autumn.

Liability- and fire-related claims increased by a significant amount (7 percent and 6 percent) in 2015 over 2014, Farmers said.

The data examined all homeowners’ insurance claims filed between September and November from 2013 through 2015, to identify the major hazards being faced.

Regionally, the data show that homeowners will likely experience a wide variation in types of hazards in the fall.

Enough of fall, however. Let’s look at Farmers’ winter damage-prevention tips instead:

—Unhook your garden hoses and blow out your sprinkler system to prevent damage before the first freeze hits.

—Install weather stripping on your exterior doors to help lower your heating bills.

—Seal gaps and cracks around your window frames.

—Make sure your gutters are clean, seal any cracks in your chimney, and check the flashing around your skylights.

—Inspect your roof, especially if your house is prone to ice dams — a ridge of ice at the edge of the roof that prevents melting snow and water from properly draining.

Check out Farmers’ Seasonal Smarts ideas at goo.gl/hMwEjJ, which are designed to help reduce damage and prevent insurance claims.