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Rates for Homeowners PA Residents Pay Could Be Lower

By Mike Heuer

While the average homeowners insurance rate in Pennsylvania is about $620 per year and less than the national average of slightly more than $900, state officials say it could be lower. There are steps residents can take to lessen the rate for homeowners insurance PA residents pay by reducing their likelihood of suffering damage or destruction by fire and other hazards.

The usual rate discounts can be applied for bundling various property and casualty and life insurance policies with one insurer, installing smoke detectors in every room, installing burglar alarms and a security system and placing deadbolt lock on external doors can result in rate discounts. But Pennsylvania insurance regulators say more can be done to lessen the likelihood of common perils, like home fires. When fewer risks exist and claims are not filed, rates for homeowners insurance PA residents pay often will go down.

“Making sure things are in good working order can make a big difference in home safety as well as insurance matters,” said Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine. “One of the most commonly overlooked areas during spring cleaning is behind your washer and dryer. Lint can escape a poorly connected dryer filter hose and build up against the wall, causing a fire hazard. Household appliance fires are one of the most common reasons given for homeowner insurance claims.”

Most fires start in the family kitchen, according to Pennsylvania Insurance Dept. officials. The primary cause is food left cooking with no one watching followed by the buildup of grease on or near the stove. Unattended food being cooked can wind up spilling over and catching fire, particularly if grease has built up around the stove. Cleaning up grease and keeping a close eye on things while cooking can reduce odds of a kitchen fire starting, which in turn can result in a lower likelihood of filing a homeowners insurance claim.

Another damage-mitigation step that can be done in the kitchen is to check the line to the refrigerator ice-maker and ensure it is not broken or pinched, which could cause water damage to walls and floors. Likewise, checking the sinks and plumbing fixtures in the kitchen, bathrooms and anywhere else a sink might be located also can reduce the odds of water damage and a claim being filed by the homeowner. Homes that are more than 20 years old should be inspected by a plumber on a regular basis to ensure all connections, fixtures and pipes are in good order and will be less likely to cause water damage.

Another potential source of water damage is the washing machine hose. Checking it to ensure the connection is snug and the hose is not deteriorated can prevent a great deal of water damage. Washer hoses should be replaced every couple of years, especially if there are signs of dry rot or other deterioration.

And homes equipped with fireplaces can be protected by removing ashes regularly and putting them in a container that won’t catch fire. Storing ashes indoors never is a good idea.