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Metlife Auto & Home Offers Water Damage Prevention Tips

You Can Replace a Couch, But Not a Lifetime of Memories

Warwick, RI — December 22, 2005 — This is the time of year when a winter chill settles upon much of the country—which means that it’s a good time to think about water damage prevention. Fully 25 percent of homeowner insurance property damages involving water or freezing, and water causes an estimated $6.8 billion worth of property damage each year, according to the Institute for Business & Home Safety. As alarming as these figures are, however, they only tell part of the story, according to Tim Bowen, a claim manager at MetLife Auto & Home.

"While your insurer can replace a chair or a couch, you can’t replace the lifetime of memories—scrapbooks, pictures, family recipes, report cards, family bibles—that often get permanently altered or damaged," said Bowen. "We see first-hand the effects of water damage every day. Many of these claims are easily avoided because they are often due to appliance failure such as when the hose in a washer, dishwasher, or icemaker ages and bursts."

Consumers can avoid heartbreaking losses by taking a few precautionary measures. MetLife Auto & Home offers the following tips to help safeguard homes—and memories:

• If you live in an area that’s subject to freezing weather, be sure to winterize your exterior faucets.

• Check all the windows in your household and ensure that the seals are tight. Replace caulk as necessary, to avoid water seepage.

• Make certain that your tub and shower make the grade. Inspect your shower stall for leaks, and inspect and replace old or brittle caulking. Also, check your sink and toilet. Water stains around the toilet may be an indication of damage to the rim and tank seals.

• In the kitchen, regularly examine the icemaker, dishwasher, sinks, and garbage disposal for leaks. Also, replace their hoses every five years—a small investment that can prevent an expensive accident from occurring.

• Inspect your washing machine hoses and check for signs of brittleness or corrosion. Experts recommend changing standard rubber hoses to stainless steel reinforced hoses, which will reduce the likelihood of leaks, and guarantee a longer life. Also, consider installing a water supply box to your washer—this automatic shut-off valve can prevent your home from serious damage, if a pipe bursts while you’re away on vacation.

• Check your hot water heater for leaks and corrosion. Rust is a sign of imminent tank failure.

• For valuables, keepsakes, and other memorabilia that you do not regularly display, or keep in your cellar, consider plastic storage containers. These containers are relatively inexpensive and can stand up to water better than other types.

One major source of water damage involves flooding. Flooding is nature’s most commonly-occurring natural disaster—and yet flood is not covered under most homeowners policies. This is true whether you live in a flood zone or not; and, in fact, almost 25 percent of all flood claims occur outside of flood zones. Purchasing flood insurance is relatively inexpensive and can easily be obtained to cover your building and contents, subject to limitations.

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