Whether homeowners make improvements, drove less or got a dog, the impact of COVID-19 will continue to affect personal lines insurance, according to a recent survey by the Insurance Research Council.
Two-thirds of surveyed respondents reported working from home at some point since the start of teh pandemic, with nearly one-third saying they worked from home all the time. Of respondents working working from home in October 2020, half said they expected to continue working remotely in some capacity after the pandemic, according to Insurance Research Council (IRC), a division of the Insurance Information Institute.
One-third of surveyed homeowners indicated more time spent at home led to an increased number of home improvements, and nearly 25% of respondents estimated improvements costs over $100,000. Of these respondents, 56% had reported the home improvements to their insurer.
Pet acquisition was also common among consumers. Nearly one-third of respondents had acquired a new pet since the start of the pandemic, while 21% had gotten a new dog. In 2019, dog bites and related injuries cost $797 million - a number that could go up with the increased number of adoptions, according to IRC.
Thirteen percent of respondents also reported buying a gun - 9% for the first time. This could result in increased liability exposure, especially among less experienced gun owners.
A negative economic outlook was expressed by many (4 in 10 said their personal financial situation was worse since the start of the pandemic), causing many survey respondents to cut personal costs by reducing spending, canceling or delaying purchases, applying for aid and reducing spending on insurance costs.
Of the survey respondents, 8% had taken steps to decrease spending on insurance-coverage, including shopping for better rates, canceling coverage, raising deductibles and reducing limits.
Less than 31% of participants who searched for lower insurance costs witched carriers, according to the survey. Respondents who remained with their current insurer found they were unable to find less expensive coverage, potential savings were too little, or customer service and claims reputations were worse at alternative insurers.
Of the respondents who changed their personal insurance coverage, most planned to return to previous coverage, most planned to return to previous levels of coverage once their financial situation improved.