The joys of home ownership come with the inevitable leaky toilet, broken dishwasher, and crayon on the walls. For life’s major events, homeowner’s insurance is designed to pick up the pieces. But what about those in-between times? When it’s not really a disaster, but it’s still expensive to replace? It’s important to understand what is covered by homeowners, what is not, and when to file a claim.Natural disasters such as blizzards, hurricanes and tornadoes are the major events we think of when we purchase home owners insurance. But the more common occurrences are frozen pipes, leaking appliance water lines, stovetop fires, and other common home problems. Every situation is different, and there are a lot of factors that will enter into the decision of whether to file a claim or not.The most important thing to find out is if your loss is covered. Once you know your coverage limits, you can decide whether or not to file a claim. Those occurrences that are covered under your homeowners policy are specified in your policy, or you can call your insurance agent and ask. Generally, any accident that is unexpected and sudden will be covered. However, slow problems or areas that deteriorate or age over time are not covered.Once you know whether or not your situation is covered, it’s time to look at your deductible. The deductible is the portion you will have to pay for. If you have a $1,000 deductible and you have $8,000 worth of damage, it’s worth it to file the claim and have the insurance company cover $7,000. If you only have $900 worth of damage, it’s probably worth it to pay for the damage and leave the insurance company out of it.Every homeowner carries insurance to protect against potentially devastating financial losses if your home is ever damaged. So if that should occur, don't be afraid of the insurance claims process. It is designed to help you recover from damages that would otherwise bankrupt you. Always call the insurance company immediately when something happens. It is important that they know about it, even if you’re not sure whether or not to file a claim. If you decide to wait, and you don’t call the insurance company for several weeks, they may deny your claim based on neglect.Start by looking over your policy, then talk to your insurance agent as soon as possible. Describe the loss, verify coverage and your deductible. Then, have a frank and open discussion about your claims history, the company's policies in that regard, and whether it makes sense to file a claim. Just because you call doesn’t mean you have to file a claim, it’s always helpful to talk to your agent to get this additional information. Then you have the opportunity to make an educated decision based on your policy, your deductible, and the damage itself.