Having great curb appeal won’t just keep you on good terms with your neighbours. Keeping your home in tip top shape will also help fend off costly liability claims.
As a homeowner, you can be held personally liable for a slip and fall injury, even if you weren’t aware of a hazardous condition on your property. Your home insurance only covers up to a certain amount in damages (depending on the limit of your policy) resulting from a liability claim. These costs can really add up, so it’s a good idea to be proactive about preventing them.
Here are five ways to update your curb appeal and make your home safer.
As a property owner, you can be held responsible if inadequate lighting causes someone to trip and fall. Make your home more inviting as well as safe with these updates:
- Add lights that lead to your entryway, line your driveway and illuminate your property after dusk and welcome guests.
- Replace small sconces with big, statement-making pendant lights.
- Add recessed lighting beneath eaves to enhance your homes features.
2. Trees and Bushes
Let’s leave overgrown trees and bushes for Hollywood haunted houses. Avoid the damage they can cause to your brick/siding and prevent slips, trips and falls with these reminders:
- Choose a focal point to be the feature of your landscaping.
- Let trees and bushes soften the edges of your home and help it blend in with the surroundings.
- Regularly cut back trees and bushes that can obscure your home and walkways.
- Have older trees inspected regularly by a qualified arborist to make sure it’s still strong and healthy.
- Remove wet and fallen leaves or other debris.
3. Decking and Fencing
Uneven floor boards, loose railings and rickety stairs are just asking for accidents and they really impact the first impression of your home. Keep your home looking loved and lived-in with these tips:
- Camouflage an eye sore or hazardous structure with decorative fencing.
- Replace loose boards, and repair railings or stairs.
- Fix sagging or broken fences around your property.
- Be sure that your fence and deck follow local bi-law requirements.
- Follow with a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint or stain.
4. Walkways, Driveways and Sidewalks
Whether you invite them or not, people will use your walkway, driveway and sidewalk and you’re responsible for keeping them safe and looking good. Here are the things you need to look out for:
- Paths with borders, low stone walls or planters are a great way to add structure to your yard.
- Remove loose items and clearly label hazards that can’t be cleared away,
- Make sure that electrical cords, cables, hoses, toys etc. are put away or taped down.
- Clean up spilled or accumulated liquids which may create a slippery spot.
- In winter, be sure to shovel and put down an ice-melter like salt or sand.
5. Outdoor Furniture and Decor
What deck or yard would be complete without furniture to relax and enjoy it? Just be sure it’s in good condition with these tips:
- A bench or café set is a must for a front porch that’s visible from the street.
- Add character with a doormat and seasonal wreath.
- Repair or replace broken furniture.
- Secure any items that could fall or blow over (umbrellas, plant stands, etc.).
Avoiding liability claims isn’t the only way curb appeal can affect your insurance. If you make bigger updates like re-siding or replacing your roof, be sure to let your insurance company know – it could lower your insurance rates.