Preventing Home Liability ClaimsPreventing Home Liability Claims

Although you might not be aware, it’s the responsibility of the property owner — or the renter, if they’re occupying the property — to prevent injuries to persons on their property. Some of the most common injuries include a trip or a slip and fall, such as on an icy sidewalk, a piece of debris, or spilled liquid on the floor.

Medical and legal bills that result from an accident on your property can be quite costly, which is why it’s important to have the right amount of liability coverage within your home insurance policy so you will be protected if an accident occurs.

Taking the proper precaution to keep guests safe in your home can also help avoid pesky liability claims. Below is a checklist you should keep handy to prevent injuries when preparing your home for your next event, from a child’s birthday party to the parents’ anniversary:

Checklist:

  • Clear toys, loose objects, shoes, or anything that might block a clear path for walking in hallways or stairways inside your home and on the driveway and sidewalks outside of your home. Keep all paths clear of snow, liquids, and ice.
  • Use nonskid rugs outside of bathtubs, showers, entrances, and exits. Avoid placing rugs in areas where they may slip and slide.
  • If you’re throwing a pool party, hire an off-duty lifeguard or assign a trusted parent who’s a good swimmer to monitor the children while in the pool. Consider giving away inflatable arm floaties as party favors for the kids. Water noodles are also a fun and inexpensive way to keep children afloat. When you are not using your pool, install a gate that latches and locks, a pool cover that can be latched or secured, and an alarm that alerts the owners when there is movement near or in the pool.

    Drowning represents the second leading cause of injury-related deaths for children 14 and under. Each year 5,000 children are hospitalized for near-drowning injuries. Twenty percent of near-drowning victims suffer severe, permanent neurological disability. If it happens in your house — whether under your watch or not — you’re liable.

  • Childproof your home by attaching covers to sharp edges of furniture and countertops. Cover electrical outlets. Install safety gates at the bottom of stairways. Keep candles, hot plates, detergents, and pill bottles out of children’s reach. And move furniture away from windows to prevent children from climbing.
  • Train and socialize your dog, especially around children, strangers and animals. Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims in 2011. Laws concerning dog bites differ from state to state, but in most states some form of liability exists. Once your dog bites someone, your insurer is likely to raise your premium and, or exclude your dog from your policy.
  • Keep all halls, stairs, entry, and exit points well lit.
  • Tape or nail any loose TV, cable, or other cord to the wall or floor to avoid tripping.
  • Put away the trampoline – or avoid buying one altogether. There are more than 100,000 serious hospital emergency room cases for trampoline injuries each year. Besides, homeowner insurance companies see trampolines as a huge risk and will raise your premiums if they’re aware you own one.

Even when you’re careful, accidents can happen and somebody can sue. So make sure you know how your home liability insurance can protect you.

Home liability insurance protects you against a claim or lawsuit resulting from bodily injury or property damage to others for which you are legally liable. It will cover medical and legal bills. The coverage typically ranges from $300,000 to $500,000. An umbrella policy provides you with an additional layer of protection above your home liability insurance for usually less than $20 a month – and the added comfort of knowing you are safe from the high out-of-pocket costs associated with liability claims.

If an accident occurs, don’t panic. Offer assistance to the injured person, document everything and contact your insurance agent right away.


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