To file or not to file a homeowner’s insurance claim?

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It's an unfortunate fact of life that bad things can occasionally happen to your home. Water damage from a broken pipe or a fire from an overheated stove can happen at any time, and can easily cause tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in structural damages and contents losses. That, of course, is why you have homeowner's insurance. But the question that often comes up is "Should I file a claim?" It's not always an easy one to answer, and there are several factors you need to weigh before you make that decision. IS IT A COVERED LOSS? The first question that comes up is whether the loss is covered by your homeowner's policy. Generally, the policy will stipulate that the damage to the home needs to be "sudden and accidental." Some examples would be a pipe that freezes and breaks; a washing machine or a toilet that overflows; an electrical circuit that overheats and starts a fire; a wind storm that causes shingles to blow off the roof or a tree limb to come crashing do...