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Six steps to prevent costly home damage


Are you taking the best steps to avoid costly damage to your home?

Here are six critical steps to help prevent some of the most common and expensive home insurance claims, according to QBE National Householders Product Manager, Angelo Colosimo. 

1. Clean tumble dryer filters

Most Australian homes have a tumble dryer. But some of us aren’t aware just how important it is to clean the tumble dryer filter or vent after each and every use.

Clothes dryers are often responsible for laundry fires, according to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services

Key fire prevention tips include ensuring there aren’t any overloaded power points in the laundry and leaving space around the tumble dryer for ventilation. 

2. Stay home when appliances are in use

“Don’t put on the dishwasher, washing machine or clothes dryer just as you’re about to leave the house. 

“If you’re right there, you may be able to notice if there’s an issue with the appliance before an accident happens or at least limit the extent of damage if an appliance goes haywire,” Colosimo suggests. 

It’s very important to stay attentive using appliances in the kitchen too. 

Fire & Rescue NSW responds to approximately 4500 residential fires each year and half of these fires start mostly due to unattended cooking. 

3. Check flexible braided hoses under sinks

In the past 12 months insurers have received more than 30,000 claims for water damage caused by failure of braided flexible hoses, according to the Insurance Council of Australia.

The claims cost to insurers for these failures is estimated at over $320 million, with damaged cupboards and flooring making up the bulk of the costs.

Check the expiry tag on your flexible braided hose and get a plumber to inspect them at least every two years.

Install a working smoke alarm4. Install and constantly check your smoke alarm

About two in five significant house fires don’t have working smoke alarms and broken smoke alarms increases the risk of dying in a house fire by 80 per cent, according to research by the Metropolitan Fire Services.

“It’s a simple task and it should become routine in housekeeping because smoke alarms can prevent significant damage or total loss of your home and precious belongings. But most importantly, smoke alarms can save lives,” says Colosimo. 

Smoke alarms have a limited lifespan and should be completely replaced every ten years. 

5. Consider buying a water leak alarm 

“Water damage consistently ranks as particularly costly claims so it’s useful to consider household products that can assist with preventing an expensive accident,” says Colosimo. 

Water leak alarms are battery operated and will sound an alarm if it detects direct contact with water. They can be placed under sinks, near water heaters, washing machines or dishwashers specifically in places where water shouldn’t be. 

6. Review your insurance coverage every year

It’s easy to simply roll over your home and contents insurance policy when it comes to the renewal period, but it’s critical you remember to review the allocated value of your home and personal possessions. 

“Some items may have increased in value over the years - accordingly adjusting your insurance cover may lower your premium,” Colosimo says. 

Alternatively, you may have obtained new items that aren’t covered and need to adjust your contents coverage to allow for the protection of these new items. 

Overall, 10 per cent of Australian homes have inaccurate sum insureds because homeowners provide an estimate of the value of their property to their current insurer based on the purchase price more than two years ago, according to the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA). 

The sum insured is the maximum amount insurers will pay if your home is totally destroyed or badly damaged after an insured event. 

“There is no guarantee that the sum insured will sufficiently cover the costs to rebuild your home, which is why it’s critical to provide your insurer with the most accurate valuation of your property,” warns Colosimo. 

In addition, more than half (53 per cent) of those who purchased a new high value item during the past five years, didn’t update their home contents insurance policy.