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Customers buy insurance to minimize their risk and make them whole should a covered loss occur. What many may not understand is that a number of factors can cause their premiums to skyrocket before a covered peril even occurs. Adjusters and claims managers handling the ensuing claims also need to be aware of these possible red flags and their impact on any settlements.

An up-to-date home inventory complete with photos can be a major asset to any claim. Encourage owners to take a digital tour of every room to record furniture, electronics, antiques, works of art, family heirlooms and other irreplaceable items in the home. After a fire or major flood, it can be difficult to identify valuable items or their pre-loss condition.

The photos and a detailed inventory should be stored off-site in a safe deposit box or other secure location and copies provided to the insurance agent to ensure they are added to the appropriate policy. Keeping them on the computer at home won’t help if the computer is destroyed in a fire or stolen in a robbery.

A similar tour of the outside of the home can capture possible risks like trees near the house, foundation issues or possible roofing problems, as well as assets like copper gutters and other aftermarket finishes that add value to the home.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), in 2012, 97.6% of the claims filed involved property damage, including theft, and jewelry was the top claims category under homeowners policies in 2011. From 2008-2012, I.I.I. says 7.3% of insured homes had a claim and the average loss was $8,255.

Here are 10 factors (not in any particular order) that can make a homeowner’s property a greater risk to insure. 

Pets

Bad credit score

Location, location, location

Trampolines

Swimming pools

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Posted 8:10 AM

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