WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., Aug. 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A new study from Chubb finds that while homeowners are nearly unanimous (90%) in saying they are "vigilant" or do an "okay job" at home maintenance, their responses tell a different story when it comes to water damage prevention, the number one cause of property-related claims.
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According to Chubb's 2018 Homeowners' Water Risk Survey, three quarters (73%) of homeowners are "very" or "somewhat" concerned about property damage from environmental or maintenance issues. But, when asked about the specific water protections they take, just 19% of homeowners have installed a water shut-off device. Further, only 47% of homeowners periodically check appliance hoses and 41% conduct water heater maintenance—despite being two primary components of water leak prevention. Potentially more concerning is the fact that these numbers reflect a downward trend, with 52% and 51% of homeowners, respectively, reporting taking the same actions in 2017.
Homeowners fare no better when protecting their home from weather-related flood risks. Although 2017 was one of the worst years on record for weather-related property damage, including two of the top three costliest U.S. hurricanes, two-thirds (64%) of homeowners report not changing their home protection behaviors over the last year.
"We don't realize how much water is constantly in motion in and around our home, from the sources we can see to the pipes hidden behind the walls, not to mention the ebb and flow of weather patterns," said Fran O'Brien, Division President of Chubb North America Personal Risk Services. "In addition to implementing a number of do-it-yourself risk mitigation measures, or professionally installing a water shut-off device, it's also is critical that homeowners speak with their independent agent or broker to ensure they have sufficient levels of protection in the event of an internal water leak or a weather-related water intrusion."
What can homeowners do to protect their homes from water damage of all kinds? The first step is understanding how homeowners' seasonal behaviors shape their exposure to water.
1. Staying Dry Year-Round
Despite the known connection between weather and water damage, the study found that 45% of homeowners believe weather reporting is "regularly" or "frequently" exaggerated, and another third (36%) think it is "sometimes" exaggerated. If homeowners don't believe the weather reporting, they are unlikely to take the necessary home protection steps. With storms becoming stronger, homeowners are putting their property and finances at risk.
2. "Soaking Up" Summer Fun
The study found that the warm, dry summer months lead to two water-related home risks stemming from travel and renovations.
According to the study, homeowners are unlikely to leave relevant information with care takers while away from their home during summer, a popular time for vacations. Specifically, less than one-third (30%) of homeowners report leaving appropriate water leak information, and only 17% leave information about what to do in the event of a weather-related flood
Regarding renovations, the study found that the majority (58%) of homeowners will "definitely" or "probably" undergo a renovation this year, with many looking to renovations to improve home value—the number one home concern identified by homeowners. With an abundance of water-connected devices in the home and a vast network of pipes hiding behind interior walls, carrying out a DIY project without the technical expertise or hiring an unqualified candidate carry equal water risks for homeowners.
3. Falling into Water Traps
Autumn's cooler months provide a pleasant opportunity for homeowners to work on their gardens, yards and outdoor areas, as 30% of homeowners believe improvements to their home's exterior features best impact its resale value. Yet, common garden improvement projects, from sprinkler system installation to adding an outdoor kitchen, can easily let water into all the wrong places
4. Winterizing Your Home
Homeowners are 40% more likely to experience a water loss during the cold winter months, according to Chubb data. Despite this, only 21% of homeowners report installing pipe insulation, even though it is one of the surest ways to protect one's home in cold weather.
5. Spring into Preventative Action
Spring inspires many homeowners to spruce up their homes' indoor and outdoor features. But by the time spring has sprung, homeowners have often waited too long. A leaky faucet, for instance, can spill up to 3,000 gallons a year, at a rate of just one drip per second. Yet, this urgency isn't resonating with homeowners, as close to 30% take more than a week to fix an issue in their home.
Tips and resources to help homeowners keep their property dry year round are available at Chubb's Water Resource Center.
About the Survey:
The 2018 Water Risk Survey is the second survey by Chubb measuring homeowners' approaches and behaviors toward internal water leak detection and the first survey focusing on external water threats. Conducted by Research Now SSI, a leading global provider of first-party consumer and professional data, the online survey was fielded between May 4-16, 2018. The results are based on 1,204 completed surveys, of which a quarter (25%) of respondents each came from the middle class ($50,000-$99,999 in annual household income), upper middle class ($100,000-$499,999), mass affluent ($500,000-$999,999) and high-net-worth ($1,000,000 or more).
Chubb is the world's largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and the largest commercial insurer in the United States. With operations in 54 countries and territories, Chubb provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. As an underwriting company, we assess, assume and manage risk with insight and discipline. We service and pay our claims fairly and promptly. The company is also defined by its extensive product and service offerings, broad distribution capabilities, exceptional financial strength and local operations globally. Parent company Chubb Limited is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Chubb maintains executive offices in Zurich, New York, London and other locations, and employs approximately 31,000 people worldwide. Additional information can be found at: chubb.com.