The coronavirus pandemic has forced most of us to spend a lot more time at home than usual. With the closures of offices back in the Spring, Brits across the country have found themselves home working – many for the first time. Consequently, our latest data shows that for a big proportion of us, spending more time at home has meant spending time, effort and money on making home better.
Our data shows that more than 3 in 10 Brits (31%) have undertaken building work in their homes during the last five years, with new windows and doors, work to the roof or cladding being the most popular jobs, followed by outside landscaping coming in third place.
|Replacing windows or doors||44%|
|Work to the roof, cladding or property exterior||40%|
|Landscaping work outside||33%|
|Structural work to repair or replace old/damaged features||19%|
|Structural work to the layout of the house/rooms||16%|
|Single story extension||11%|
|Multi story extension||7%|
But with more people across the country taking on DIY projects and home improvements during lockdown, are homeowners considering the impact this may have on their insurance policies?
36% of people in our survey said they were still planning or considering building work in the next 12 months, but not all of them were planning to protect that potential investment with insurance. 27% said they wouldn’t inform their insurance company, and a further 35% said it would depend on the work they were having done.
So, have homeowners become lax in keeping on top of their cover? Or are they just confident that their plans for renovation won’t impact on their policy?
83% of people who had work done in the past five years admitted they just didn’t know it was a requirement to talk to their insurance company about it at all. Yet of those respondents who are carrying out, or considering carrying out, home improvements in the next 12 months, 40% believe that there would be no direct implications should they decide not to inform their insurance company.
Ian Hughes, CEO of Consumer Intelligence, says, “This data shows that the average policy holder may think they can get away with keeping their insurer in the dark, but the fact is that with any kind of DIY comes an increased risk. Whether that's structural damage, escape of water, or something else altogether - there's a higher chance of needing to make an insurance claim. If that’s the stage at which you discover your policy is void, then you may have a serious problem.”
While we’ve noted that home improvements across the country have continued despite the current climate of uncertainty, it’s important to remain cautious. Another of our latest surveys addressed 1,018 UK insurance policy holders, and we found that 11% have significant concerns about their own financial security, while a further 35% have concerns about the wider UK economy. At a time when people are feeling more financially vulnerable, the last thing they need is additional cost through an unexpected lapse in insurance cover.
Ian continued, “Your insurer may not do anything with the information you give them about your building work. In fact, our data shows that for 57% of people who had had work done, there was no impact on their policy. However, for the remainder, a different story. 20% were told they had to pay more to remain covered, and for 16% of customers, exclusions were put on their policy. A further 10% were referred elsewhere or to a specialist, and 9% were told that cover was no longer possible.
“When carrying out home improvements, policyholders are required to inform their insurer. Insurance brands need to educate their customers to allow them to take the necessary action to ensure they are covered throughout the period of the home improvement project. And now is the time to educate them, in line with the rise in DIY projects.
“Our homes are important to us. They’re usually our biggest investment - and they’re our sanctuary, too. It’s not worth the risk that the building work you’re doing to improve your home could actually void your insurance and put it at risk. That’s why it’s always worth getting in touch with your insurer to let them know about any work.
“It’s clear there’s a communications job here for insurers and brokers alike. It shouldn’t just be up to customers to make that first move – communication channels should be kept open during the lifetime of a policy from the insurer/broker side.
“Too often, brands only talk to customers at the point of sale or renewal, and that just won’t cut the mustard anymore. Staying in touch with consumers can help land key messages, educate them about their policies, keep insurance front of their mind, avoid future conflicts, and retain them longer term.”
With the increased focus on value, this is one place brands can clearly add it. Help your customers understand their cover, help them make their home a home, and help them protect it.
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