Some Americans Put Their Home Insurance Policies at Risk By Delaying Repairs, Survey Finds

Inflation and rising prices are causing delays on maintenance tasks, possibly affecting home insurance coverage.

Woman scraping wall during home renovation
(Image credit: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images)

While many Americans are now up to date on their routine home maintenance work, many delayed making repairs and even necessary renovations in the last year to save money, a decision that puts their homeowners policies at risk, according to a recent survey by Nationwide.

The survey of 1,000 homeowners and 400 independent insurance agents conducted from May 15 to June 2, revealed that about 85% of homeowners say they are up-to-date on routine maintenance repairs and about 70% say they regularly perform routine tasks to prevent issues from occurring.

However, many of them (44%) said that they delayed routine maintenance tasks in the last year, with about a third postponing even necessary renovations and repairs, according to the survey, part of the insurer’s Agency Forward research series that tracks industry trends.

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Cost concerns behind delays

Cost was the primary reason reported for delays. Some 78% of those surveyed said that inflation and rising prices prevented them from starting or completing tasks. About 46% reported that they had other financial priorities such as paying off debt or saving for other expenses. Other top reasons cited included a lack of time or energy, difficulty finding reliable contractors as well as waiting for better weather conditions.

The age of the homeowner was also a factor when it came to postponing work, the study showed. Baby Boomers were the least likely to delay home maintenance needs, while those more likely were Gen Xers and Millennials.

About 26% of homeowners said they were unaware that delaying necessary home maintenance tasks could affect their homeowners policy, the survey showed.

“As a homeowner, it’s important to protect your property from further damage when there is a known issue,” Beth Riczko, Nationwide’s president of P&C Personal Lines, said in a statement commenting on the survey.

“When a claim is filed, there are many factors reviewed during the investigation that may impact whether the claim is covered, including if the insured followed policy conditions,” she said. “For example, when shingles are damaged on a roof and aren’t repaired causing interior damage, there could be coverage impacts.” 

Some 71% of insurance agents surveyed reported that customers are reducing their coverage to save money. Agents said the most common claims stem from weather-related and fire-related damage.

More than 8 in 10 homeowners (87%) said they believe their homes are insured at the right value, but many remain concerned that their policy might not cover certain types of damage or incident, or that they may not have enough coverage in case of a major loss or catastrophe, the survey showed.

As Kiplinger previously reported, it pays to make sure your home – as well as your vehicle – insurance coverage is up to date. Homeowners insurance will pay to repair or rebuild homes after damage from a covered cause, such as fire, wind or vandalism. However, the policy sets a limit on how much it will pay, as reported.

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Joey Solitro

Joey Solitro is a freelance financial journalist at Kiplinger with more than a decade of experience. A longtime equity analyst, Joey has covered a range of industries for media outlets including The Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha, Market Realist, and TipRanks. Joey holds a bachelor's degree in business administration.