5 reasons to talk to your clients about a
Home Water Protection System.
Note: This article was directed towards Insurance agents to help their clients with improving property coverage and protecting their assets.
One in five homeowners will experience water damage
in their homes each year.
By Lisa Lindsay | Taken from PropertyCasualty360.com
Non-weather-related water damage is one of the most common types of insurance claims.
Water damage is costing homeowners billions.
We’re not talking about the damage from flooding after a storm.
We’re talking pipe bursts and broken appliances.
Non-weather-related water damage is one of the most common types of insurance claims. It’s time to put this knowledge to work, and it begins with educating clients about how often water damage occurs and how they can prevent it from happening to them.
The first line of defense is a comprehensive inspection during the home buying process. During an inspection, the home is evaluated, systems are checked and documented, and homeowners are provided with valuable insight into the home’s “operating system.” The report offers a laundry list of things that may not be working correctly, appliances, doors or faucets that may need replacing and HVAC systems, wiring or outlets they may want to upgrade or carefully observe.
Outside of insurance replacement cost inspections, most homes remain uninspected for the lifetime of ownership. According to the 2018 American Community Survey single-year estimates, the median duration of homeownership in the U.S. is 13 years, a long time for a home to go without another inspection.
No. 1: Rate of occurrence
Each year, one in five homeowners will experience water damage in their homes. The majority of these losses will come from plumbing device failures. Defects can be detected and prevented before they turn into a major loss. Some of the failures can be easily identified, while others may require a water detection system because the failure may happen inside of an enclosed wall.
More easily identified plumbing failures are water heaters and washing machine hoses. The average lifespan of a water heater is 8-to-12 years; 8-to-9 years is the average age for a washing machine supply hose. Helping clients understand the value in tracking when a device might fail can go a long way in helping them avoid a loss.
No. 2: Losses increasing in frequency and severity
Industry-wide, water damage makes up more than $13 billion. For many carriers, non-weather-related water losses account for just under half of homeowners’ claims. The increase in frequency and severity has to do with several factors, such as more bathrooms and plumbing fixtures (ice machines, wet bars), second floor washing machines and open floor plans. Open spaces make it very difficult to contain water. The rising number of aging homes also plays a role in the number of claims. The average age of a home is 36 years. Homes between 20-40 years are the most vulnerable to water loss, so the chances of a homeowner experiencing a substantial water loss coupled with the need to relocate to temporary housing are more likely than it would have been years ago.
No. 3: Inconvenience
The inconvenience of relocating to temporary housing is of great concern to homeowners. The average amount of time a homeowner is out of their home during repairs is 90 days. If the home is larger or customized, a homeowner could be in a rental for nine months or longer. A Chubb survey of clients reveals that more than half of homeowners cited the threat of relocating for an extended period as their first or second most potentially concerning event related to the claim.
No. 4: Loss prevention is possible
Many devastating water losses are preventable with an automatic shut-off device. There are three critical features to an effective solution: reducing the time to discover the water leak, automatically shutting off the water, and monitoring the flow of water throughout the home. There are many affordable and programmable devices on the market that can meet the needs of homeowners.
The key to total protection is an automatic shut-off device versus sensor devices that are also advertised, convenient and affordable. Sensor devices cannot be installed in walls, ceilings or foundation slabs, and water damage is not confined to sensor locations. Installing an automatic shut-off device provides peace of mind, prevents or minimizes property damage and ensures homeowners do not have to relocate during repairs.
No. 5: Being an A+ underwriting risk matters
Losses associated with natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires make obtaining and retaining insurance coverage challenging for many homeowners. Those unprecedented losses, along with a rise in other damages, such as home water losses, means that homeowners have to proactively work with their agents to make sure they are the best underwriting risk in the marketplace. It will be much more difficult for someone in a catastrophe-prone area to get insurance coverage if they have had non-weather-related water damage than someone who has not had any claims. Additionally, there is an opportunity to help homeowners not fall into the multiple water damage claims category well before facing non-renewal and placement in a more expensive excess and surplus lines solution.
There is no better time than now to begin having these conversations with homeowners. COVID-19 presents unique threats and opportunities. With people spending more time at home, there’s an opportunity to connect and educate them about the benefits of having an inspection or installing a system. There is also an unknown threat for those who have temporarily relocated to another location, leaving their primary residence vulnerable to undetected water damage. Whatever circumstances exist, you can provide enormous education and value to your clients by discussing the possibilities of loss and prevention.
Lisa Lindsay (email@example.com) is the executive director with the Private Risk Management Association, a collaborative nonprofit that aims to raise awareness and educate agents and brokers about the evolving insurance industry landscape to better serve high-net-worth clients. Lindsay more than 30 years’ insurance experience and was instrumental in establishing PRMA and played a key role in developing The Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA) certificate. The opinions expressed here are the author’s own.
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