With winter upon us, homeowners are being warned that putting off inexpensive repairs could prove costly in the future.

The reminder from AA Insurance comes after a survey found a third of New Zealanders were unaware of how their maintenance obligations could affect their insurance claims.

The insurer cited an example where one customer ignored a rusty tin roof, which let moisture seep into the walls and ceiling of their home. The roof was further damaged in a recent storm and now the enclosed porch area leaks.

If the issue was fixed when it first happened, the claim would have costed $2600 all up. However, instead the porch needed to be fully stripped out and rebuilt due to extensive mould.


An unrepaired home issue leading to more problems has been described as "the domino effect".

"The domino effect happens when a homeowner doesn't fix often minor damage to their home, which then leads to further damage and a growing cost to remedy it," said Amelia Macandrew, customer relations manager at AA Insurance.

"Maintenance issues also run the risk of delaying your claim, or leaving you out of pocket for additional repairs required. So, it literally pays to keep up with your home maintenance."

Over the past 12 months from April 30, AA Insurance paid out nearly $6 million for home and contents claims related to weather damage, such as high winds and torrential rain.

Although almost all of the claims were accepted, a small percentage were denied as they were related to maintenance issues rather than a sudden event.

Ms Macandrew said homeowners and rental property owners are obliged to keep their property well maintained to protect both their investment and the safety of the people living in the home.

To keep your house well maintained

• Check for rust, cracks or leaks

• Clear out gutters and check pipes are attached properly

• Fix any slanted or damaged walls and fences

• Ensure power points, light switches and smoke detectors are working

• Keep an eye on your power bill -- if it's too high, you may have a leak

• Keep gardens away from the outer walls of your house

• Get rid of any extremely damaged out buildings

• Consider cleaning your chimney to avoid fires