For many, owning a home is a strategic financial decision. Given the financial benefits at play, many invest significantly in their homes, often making it their largest investment. But, it all can be put at risk from the single most common property-related claim: water. Whether stemming from the weather or from inside the home — be it from water-connected devices like washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerator ice makers — even the smallest of leaks can cause big headaches for homeowners.
How big? Beyond the frequency, the Insurance Information Institute found the average water claim runs around $10,000. Such losses also are getting more expensive, with incidents over $500,000 doubling and those over $1 million tripling since 2015. In addition, many people end up out of their homes for months due to required repairs, according to Chubb data. In other words, water is simultaneously a common, costly and stress-inducing risk homeowners can’t overlook.
Fortunately for financial advisors, helping clients protect their property (and their financial investments) is simple. It starts with understanding how water impacts their homes year-round.
Summer Travel Woes Consider how many of your clients travel over the summer. Now ask how many leave relevant home protection information with caretakers. Per a recent Chubb study, just 30% and 17% of homeowners leave appropriate water leak and flood information with caretakers, respectively.
Why the concern? Data from Paul Davis, a home remediation company, suggests that even a small tear in an ice maker line can result in more than 17,000 gallons of spilled water in a week — enough to fill a swimming pool. Imagine coming home to that!
Fall Landscaping Oversights According to the same Chubb study, roughly one-in-three homeowners (30%) believe improvements to their home’s exterior best impacts its value (the top home-related concern identified). The cooler autumn months are the perfect time to make these enhancements, but many common garden improvements invite new water risks.
Whether adding a sprinkler system or outdoor kitchen, most clients fail to speak with their landscape architect about how these improvements alter their garden’s slope. As a result, water from the home’s exterior can run towards the home and seep into the foundation or basement. Over time, this can result in costly damage.
Winter Pipe Negligence Chubb claims data suggests that homeowners are 40% more likely to experience a water loss in the winter. Despite this, the study found that just 21% of homeowners install pipe insulation. Often costing just pennies to purchase, clients put thousands of dollars at stake by failing to take this simple action.
Spring TLC The season of cleaning often inspires clients to give their homes a bit of TLC. Yet, waiting until the spring means homeowners have often let a small problem grow into a larger (and more expensive) issue. The EPA, for instance, found that a leaky faucet, at one drip per second, can spill up to 3,000 gallons a year — roughly 57 gallons a week. Unfortunately, Chubb’s study found that close to 30% of homeowners take more than a week of fix a home maintenance issue.
Lend a Helping Hand Fortunately, there are several ways to educate clients on year-round water risk mitigation. No matter the season, start by suggesting they install an automatic water shut-off device. For the spring and summer, advise they: • Inspect hose connections and water supply lines for wear and tear • Inspect and test fire sprinkler systems annually • Perform regular maintenance on major systems and appliances For fall and winter, suggest they: • Install a back-up generator to ensure uninterrupted power to critical systems • Keep drains and gutters clear • Install low temperature sensors in unheated spaces
If you have any questions about this topic, please email me at AskFran@Chubb.com.
Fran O’Brien is Division President, North America Personal Risk Services, Chubb.