Yes, what is happening in the home insurance sector now that hybrid working is the new normal? Aviva has some insights and as you would expect more working from home means more carpet burns and hot tub fiascos. No, it’s not what you’re thinking, but quite interesting nevertheless. Here’s the news from Aviva;
Fewer iron-burns on carpets and thefts from homes, but more claims for hearing aids and hot-tubs. These are just some of the changes Aviva has seen during the Covid outbreak, as new behaviours impacted claims trends. Analysis of the insurer’s home insurance claims since the start of 2020 reveals a number of interesting changes, with some expected to remain:
Carpets damaged by irons. Accidental damage is the biggest driver of home insurance claims, with carpets being one of the most-damaged items. However, Aviva has seen claims for iron-burns fall by 42% in 2021, compared to the 2017-19 average, as people worked from home more and favoured more casual clothes which didn’t require ironing.
Hearing aids, earrings and glasses: Face-masks led to more than 1,000 UK home insurance claims during 2020 and 2021 as hearing aids and earrings were lost or damaged while people put on or removed masks. Hearing aids accounted for more than 70% of the claims, with an average value of £1,400. Glasses were also lost or broken after customers took them off when masks caused them to steam up.
Exercise-related claims: Accidental damage claims involving exercise equipment rose by 200% in 2020, compared to the 2016-2019 average, as work-outs became home-based. Tablets and phones were regularly knocked off while people used exercise equipment. Weights were dropped on tiles and laminate flooring, and in one case, a customer’s daughter spilled water inside a TV set during a Joe Wicks exercise session.
Hot-tubs: Home insurance claims involving hot tubs almost tripled in 2020. Analysis of Aviva’s UK claims data revealed a year-on-year increase of 188%, in relation to accidental damage claims for hot tubs in 2020. Scenarios included a grass strimmer bursting an inflatable tub, birds pecking holes in a spa cover and an engagement ring ripping a tub lining. Hot tub-related claims were still way above pre-pandemic levels in 2021, but had fallen by 12%, compared to 2020.
Pedal cycle thefts: The pandemic saw thousands of people jumping on their bikes to enjoy the outdoors, but unfortunately this activity seemed to lead to an increase in cycle thefts. While thefts from homes fell overall during the pandemic (see below), pedal cycle thefts accounted for 34% of total thefts in 2021, compared to 20% of total thefts in 2019.
Claims involving children: Claims which mentioned ‘children’ or ‘kids’ fell over the course of 2021, particularly in relation to damaged TVs and ‘dropped’ items. The pattern broadly aligns to heightened claims in 2020 when schools were closed and children were at home more – followed by a reduction when restrictions were still in place for adults, but children had returned to school.
Thefts from homes: Unsurprisingly, thefts from homes fell drastically during the pandemic, particularly during lockdown periods. Thefts from outbuildings, garages and sheds also reduced, although not as dramatically as in the main home buildings themselves. However, recent ONS data revealed that 64% of burglaries in England and Wales occurred while residents were at home, (April 2019 to March 2020), so people are still urged to be on their guard.
Thefts away from homes: Thefts which did not involve breaking into a property increased by 44% between April and June 2021, as lockdown measures eased. Items commonly taken included phones, bags, laptops and bicycles. However, it is possible that losses away from home may reduce, as Aviva research finds people are generally carrying less when they leave the house.
Garden fires from bonfires and barbecues: Aviva saw an influx of claims related to garden fires in 2020, with a 27% increase, compared to 2019. This is thought to be due to people burning household rubbish and garden waste on bonfires or in incinerators, while local refuse sites were closed. Barbecue fires also increased during this period as people entertained themselves at home. Numbers fell in 2021, but people are still urged to take care when setting blazes at home.
Kelly Whittington, Property Claims Director for Aviva says: “We’re constantly looking at how claims trends change and evolve, so we can help to protect our customers.
“We certainly saw a few fluctuations throughout the Covid pandemic. Some of these changes seem to have been related to a particular moment in time, but there are wider behavioural trends, such as hybrid working, which are likely to impact our claims experience in the longer term.
“Whatever the potential problem, whether it involves a hot-tub or a hearing aid, an iron or an exercise bike, we’d always urge customers to keep a look-out for potential hazards. Hopefully we can help to protect possessions and prevent distressing situations wherever possible.”