If You Have These Problems With Your Home, You Must Live in the ...

House and approaching storm.


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House and approaching storm.

Home Sweet Homeowners Insurance

A home is a collection of repairs that have yet to be made. Some things, like leaky faucets and blown fuses, are universal. Other common homeowner headaches tend to be regional plagues — though some of those threats — most notably, wildfires — are expanding rapidly to parts of the country you wouldn't expect. Here’s a look at some of the most common, costly issues that homeowners face and the likelihood that you’ll encounter them depending on where you live.

Related: Home Maintenance Mistakes You Need to Stop Making

California fire

Wildfire Damage: West, Southwest and Southeast

Insurance claims for fire damage are rare compared with claims stemming from other natural disasters, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In terms of severity and expense per case, however, fire is the most destructive force by far. Apocalyptic fires are now an annual ordeal in California and other parts of the West and Southwest, but the risk is growing in states like Florida, South Carolina, and Mississippi as climate change dries out vegetation and makes fires more likely. It's newly estimated that 26 million homes in the U.S. now have some wildfire risk, leading to sites like Realtor.com assigning a wildfire risk score for every property in the continental U.S. 

Related: 'Atmospheric Rivers' and Other Truly Bizarre Weather Phenomena

Mouse next to a chewed wire

Mouse and Rat Infestations: Northeast

Mice and rats are global survivors that can and do scratch out a living just about anywhere. When it comes to setting up shop in residential homes in the United States, however, the Northeast is home base for Feivel and company. They reproduce quickly when they settle on a nice spot. They chew wires, shred insulation, leave droppings, spread germs, and carry fleas. According to Rent.com, they’re common not only in every major city in the Northeast, but across New England, where they’re particularly drawn to sheds and barns.

Related: The Truth About Rats and Car Engines

Arkadiusz Warguła/istockphoto

Roof Rat Infestations: South

The rats that Northeasterners have been tangling with for generations are most likely to be larger Norway rats. The other rat common to North America is the smaller but equally destructive black rat. Commonly called the roof rat, it gets its nickname from its tendency to make its home near the tops of buildings. They’re native to tropical habitats and in their adopted home of North America, they’re most commonly found in the South and Southeast.

Related: 22 Cheap, Natural Ways to Rid Your Home of Pests


Roach Infestations: South

Just like mice and rats, cockroaches are highly adaptable house pests that can and do infest homes across the country. But given the choice, cockroaches love hot, humid, damp climates, which is why they’re particularly common and particularly terrifying in the South and Southeast. Outsiders might find the name “palmetto bug” to be charming. It is not. It’s an umbrella term that refers to a variety of hideous winged cockroaches that are not at all shy and are only available in horror-movie size. A part of daily life across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and beyond, their shed skin and droppings trigger serious allergic reactions, they multiply rapidly, they spread disease, and they’re notoriously difficult to eliminate.

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Jodi Jacobson/istockphoto

Coastal Flood Damage: Gulf Coast and East Coast

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s coastal flooding map represents national hotspots with red and orange. The entire Gulf Coast, all of Florida, and the whole of the East Coast up to Maine look like a ring of lava. Even modest coastal flooding can lead to different kinds of serious structural damage too varied to list here. By 2100, $1 trillion worth of real estate will be at risk of coastal flooding thanks to the effects of climate change, and the areas around New Orleans, Florida, and the Mid-Atlantic are already watching the waters rise.

Related: 10 Costly Home Repairs Your Insurance Might Not Cover


River Flood Damage: Midwest, South, and Appalachia

Like coastal flooding, river flooding is an annual fact of life in vast swaths of the United States. Also like coastal flooding, home damage from river flooding includes lingering secondary hazards like mold, rot, and compromised structural integrity. Spring flooding is most severe in the Upper Midwest, but the Deep South, Central Midwest, and parts of Appalachia receive regular bouts of river flooding.

Ice dams

Ice Dams: Northeast, Upper Midwest, and Northwest

Ice dams can hobble homeowners in any region where winters are long, temperatures are low, and snow and ice are a part of life. They form when built-up ice prevents melting snow from draining to the gutters, off the roof, and away from the home. Ice dams have many effects on the roof and home. None of them are good. They lead to water damage and all of the associated secondary hazards it creates, including mold and mildew. Insulation and drywall can become saturated, boards can rot, and heat ducts can become damaged.

Sinkhole house

Sinkhole Damage: South and Appalachia

Although the big, scary, house-swallowing sinkholes grab all the headlines, thousands of smaller sinkholes are reported every year, many of which cause significant property damage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, most of that damage occurs in Florida, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Pennsylvania.

Wind damaged home

Wind Damage: Gulf Coast and East Coast

Wind damage is one of the most frequent causes of homeowners insurance claims and also one of the costliest in terms of severity per claim. According to III, 19 states have mandatory windstorm deductibles. They are essentially every state situated along the Gulf and East coasts because the kinds of windstorms covered by that type of insurance are mostly hurricanes.


Hail Damage: Midwest, South, and Southwest

The other type of common, costly, and sometimes deadly windstorm is the kind that comes with hail. These include the terrifying electrical storms and tornadoes that humble the Midwest and South every year. Millions of hail claims cost billions of dollars a year, according to III. The states with the most hail-related property damage claims are Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Illinois. The states with the most severe hail events are Texas, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

Atlantic Ocean waves

Corrosion: Coastal Areas

Salt, wind, airborne sand, water, and storms are the enemy of all known building materials. That’s why homes built in coastal areas are far more prone to corrosion and rust. Coastal homes that are not built with specialized architectural metal will be nibbled into oblivion from the outside in far more quickly than the same house would inland.


Lightning Damage: South ... and California

Insurance companies often group lightning and fire protection together because the former so frequently causes the latter. When listed on its own, homeowners insurance claims for lightning damage are concentrated regionally, according to the III. The top five states are Florida, Texas, California, Georgia, and Louisiana. In the top 10 lightning states, only California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois are located outside the South.