Every home goes through a life cycle.  As homes approach 15 to 20 years old – the “terrible teens” – most building components and appliances reach the end of their useful life and will eventually fail:

  • In our climate, shingles and tiles often don’t last as long as warrantied (other factors like proper roof installation and attic ventilation can also affect useful life).
  • Water-bearing appliances like refrigerators with ice makers, dishwashers, and hot water heaters have an average useful life of 12-15 years.
  • Supply lines to sinks, toilets, and washing machines should be replaced at least every 10 years.

For customers calling, clicking, or walking in to your office for a Tower Hill insurance quote, you have two prospects:

  • The new homeowner
  • The homeowner looking to switch their insurance coverage

New homeowners rely on the pre-purchase home inspector to tell them if there are any problems with building components.  Because of the costs associated with buying and closing on a home, most people can’t afford to spend additional money to immediately replace outdated appliances, roofs, and plumbing.  Existing homeowners typically follow the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality and won’t replace something until after there has been a problem.

So how do you pre-underwrite these risks to ensure there is not a hazard for a water loss?  Tower Hill offers a Water Damage Prevention Checklist to review with new and renewal customers.  We also recommend asking additional questions during the application process, such as:

  • How old is the house?  Homes in the 1990 to 1999 range may be at their first replacement cycle for roofs and appliances.  Have these components been replaced or are they original?
  • Have the supply lines to the toilets, sinks, and washing machine been replaced recently?  If not, recommend that they are.  This is an inexpensive way to prevent a supply line from bursting (a leading cause of water loss).
  • Do you know where your main water shut off is, and do you use it while away from the home for extended periods?
  • How old is your water heater? 73% of all water heaters fail before they are 12 years old.  Spending $500-750 on a new water heater can prevent a large water loss and the client paying a $1000 or higher deductible.
  • Has a plumber inspected the plumbing in your home recently? Is it in good condition?
  • What type of plumbing do you have?  Polybutylene plumbing is ineligible.  PEX is eligible only if it was installed after 2009 and incorporates a manifold distribution system.
  • Is your HVAC system serviced annually?

Answers to these questions will help you screen risks and make recommendations to help the client prevent the frustrating and inconvenient experience of suffering a water loss.

Brian Hunt, AIC, CPCU

About Brian Hunt, AIC, CPCU

Commercial Underwriter II
Tower Hill Insurance Group

Brian started his insurance career with State Farm in St. Paul, MN, in 1998. In addition to handling property and liability claims, he served as part of the National Catastrophe Team, following tornadoes, hurricanes, and hailstorms across the country. He made several friends named Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Ivan, Wilma, and Katrina. He moved to Florida in 2009 to manage a catastrophe office in Jacksonville, and because of a girl (now wife) his path led him to Gainesville and Tower Hill Insurance. In his free time, Brian is an Ironman triathlete and also enjoys writing about local and national history.