cloudyn.png
Saturday February 29th, 2020 3:48AM

Liz Weston: Is your wealth dripping away?

By The Associated Press

As a spokesperson for the insurance industry, Loretta Worters often gives tips to homeowners on preventing water damage. Some of her knowledge comes from personal experience.

Worters says she had owned a home in Bellmore, New York, for only a month when she noticed the clothes washer in the basement was taking an awfully long time to fill.

"I went downstairs and I was up to my ankles in water," says Worters, vice president of communications for the Insurance Information Institute.

Appliance and plumbing failures are a leading cause of household water damage, which is far more common than you may think. Homeowners are six times more likely to suffer property losses from water than from theft and seven times more likely than from fire, says Kelly Greene, a risk consulting manager from Chubb Personal Insurance who led a session on property damage at the Financial Planning Association NorCal conference in May. ("Water damage" is different from flooding, which is rising water that affects two or more properties.)

"When you ask people (if they've had water damage), if they haven't, chances are they know someone who has — a friend or family member or neighbor," Greene says.

Water damage accounts for $1 billion in insured losses annually for homeowners and renters, with claims averaging more than $10,000 each, Worter says.

But not all water losses are covered by insurance . While a sudden event, such as the hose that burst on Worter's washing machine, would be covered, a slower leak typically wouldn't be. A homeowner could end up paying thousands of dollars, or more, to fix the damage and remediate any mold.

"That's a maintenance issue," Worters says. Insurance doesn't typically cover problems caused by issues a homeowner should have detected and fixed, such as termite damage or a leaky roof.

Yet while most homeowners have smoke detectors to alert them to fires, and many have alarm systems to help deter theft, relatively few take steps to prevent catastrophic water damage. Even in the multimillion-dollar homes Chubb covers, less than 2% have automated systems that can shut off the water if there's a leak, Greene says.

That's a problem for the insurer, since water damage makes up 45% of its total homeowners claims, and losses over $1 million have more than tripled since 2015, Greene says. Chubb now encourages policyholders to install water leak detection systems, which attach to water mains and can cost $500 to $3,000, Greene says.

But there are lower-cost and free ways homeowners can head off problems:

Locate the main shut-off. Adults and older children should know where the main water supply shut-off valve is and how to turn it off, Worters says. You don't want to have to search for it in an emergency. The shut-off is often near the water meter or where the main water line enters the home. Water-using appliances like toilets and dishwashers typically have shut-off valves as well.

Regularly check supply lines. Look for leaks in the supply lines to sinks, toilets and hot water heaters, and inspect hoses that connect to washing machines, dishwashers, ice makers and pull-out spray faucets. If you find rubber hoses, consider replacing them with braided metal versions that are more durable. Braided metal hoses typically cost $10 to $30 each — and it's a fairly easy do-it-yourself project to install them. (Just remember to shut off the water and unplug the appliance first.)

Don't run water appliances overnight or when you're not home. A burst hose can pump 600 gallons of water an hour into your home while you're sleeping or away, Worter says. Consider shutting off the water entirely when you're on vacation, Greene says.

Stay on top of home maintenance. Clear gutters and make sure downspouts funnel water away from your house's foundation. Inspect roofs for missing shingles and other damage. Prevent ice dams, the ice that forms along roof edges that can cause water to back up under the shingles. Replace cracked caulk or sealant around tubs and showers.

Install alerts. Higher-end leak detectors such as Phyn Plus and Flo by Moen can monitor your water usage for anomalies, connect with smart home systems and alert you to problems through phone apps. If you're not ready to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars, though, you can buy a three- or four-pack of basic sensors at hardware stores or online for less than $40. Place them on the floor near washers and hot water heaters, and the shrieking alarms will alert you to trouble.

____________________________________________________

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of "Your Credit Score." Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston.

RELATED LINK:

Understanding homeowners insurance http://bit.ly/homeowners-insurance-101

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services, AP Business - Personal Finance
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Puerto Ricans gathere for massive protest to expel governor
Thousands of Puerto Rican flags are fluttering in the breeze as demonstrators arrive from across the island for what many expect to be one of the biggest protests ever seen in the U.S. territory
9:19AM ( 12 minutes ago )
House Republicans vow tough questions for Mueller at hearing
House Republicans pledge tough questioning of ex-special counsel Robert Mueller when he testifies before Congress this week as Democrats plan to air evidence of wrongdoing by President Donald Trump in a potentially last-ditch bid to impeach him
9:16AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Stevens' colleagues pay respects in Supreme Court ceremony
The Supreme Court says 6 former colleagues of the late John Paul Stevens are joining in a ceremony at the court honoring the long-serving justice, who died last week at age 99
9:10AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Budget negotiators close on debt, $1.3T spending deal
Negotiations between the Trump administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a critical debt and $1.3 trillion budget bill are on the cusp of a deal
8:51AM ( 40 minutes ago )
The Latest: German minister lauds IAEA head's Iran deal role
Germany's foreign minister says Yukiya Amano, the late chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, "made the IAEA stronger."
8:38AM ( 53 minutes ago )
Voting closing in race to become UK's new prime minister
Voting is drawing to a close in the race to become Britain's next prime minister
8:07AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Global shares lower, Shanghai STAR tech board shares surge
Global shares lower, Shanghai STAR tech stocks board surges
5:07AM ( 4 hours ago )
Asian shares lower, Shanghai STAR tech board shares surge
Asian shares lower, Shanghai STAR tech stocks board surges
1:29AM ( 8 hours ago )
Audit: Hospitals put Native Americans at risk with opioids
A federal audit released Monday finds that government hospitals placed Native Americans at increased risk for opioid abuse and overdoses
12:08AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Reined-in rate-cut expectations, Iran tensions hit S&P 500
U.S. stock indexes sloshed between small gains and losses Friday after Microsoft, American Express and other big companies offered up a mixed set of earnings reports
4:47PM ( 2 days ago )
US stocks wobble as companies turn in mixed earnings reports
U.S. stock indexes sloshed between small gains and losses Friday after Microsoft, American Express and other big companies offered up a mixed set of earnings reports
2:58PM ( 2 days ago )
Stocks give up gains, head sideways
U.S. stocks gave up early gains and moved sideways in afternoon trading on Wall Street Friday
2:06PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Financial Services
About 10,000 au pairs to get paid in class-action settlement
About 10,000 live-in childcare workers from around the world will be paid an average of $3,500 each under a class-action settlement that alleged exploitation of the mostly young women who perform the jobs
7:36PM ( 3 days ago )
Will a summer job burn your financial aid for college?
Don't sweat that summer salary too much - college students can earn $6,660 before it has any effect on the financial aid they receive
10:30AM ( 3 days ago )
Sanders defends 'Medicare for All' after criticism by Biden
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is preparing to mount a vigorous defense of 'Medicare for All' after criticisms from Joe Biden
6:21PM ( 4 days ago )
AP Business - Personal Finance
Puerto Ricans gathere for massive protest to expel governor
Thousands of Puerto Rican flags are fluttering in the breeze as demonstrators arrive from across the island for what many expect to be one of the biggest protests ever seen in the U.S. territory
9:19AM ( 12 minutes ago )
House Republicans vow tough questions for Mueller at hearing
House Republicans pledge tough questioning of ex-special counsel Robert Mueller when he testifies before Congress this week as Democrats plan to air evidence of wrongdoing by President Donald Trump in a potentially last-ditch bid to impeach him
9:16AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Stevens' colleagues pay respects in Supreme Court ceremony
The Supreme Court says 6 former colleagues of the late John Paul Stevens are joining in a ceremony at the court honoring the long-serving justice, who died last week at age 99
9:10AM ( 22 minutes ago )
NYC mayor calls for probe as many wait for power in the heat
Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling called for an investigation of power outages that came at the end of this weekend's oppressive heat, saying he no longer trusts utility Con Edison after it decided to turn off power to thousands of customers
9:05AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Britain's May chairs emergency session on seized tanker
British PM May chairs emergency security session on how to respond to Iran's seizure of British-flagged tanker
9:02AM ( 30 minutes ago )