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Home Insurers Take on Home Repairs

Some companies will dispatch risk specialists to detect problems—and even coordinate repairs—long before disaster strikes.

The Wall Street Journal
By Beth DeCarbo

Excerpts from The Wall Street Journal

The best time to deal with a disaster is long before it strikes, insurance companies have found. To that end, more carriers are proactively taking on repairs and drafting action plans for their wealthy clients.

High-end insurers like Chubb, PURE, AIG Private Client Group and Cincinnati Insurance increasingly use risk-management specialists to evaluate clients’ properties and, if necessary, help secure contractors to make upgrades and repairs. Technicians will install water and temperature sensors connected to mobile apps that alert homeowners of possible danger. Some insurers also have in-house art preservationists and restoration experts who can help develop an “escape plan” for fine art, valuables and collections when disaster is imminent.

“Traditionally, insurers would try to prevent loss in a passive manner—identify threats and recommend mitigation. Some offered financial incentives and hoped that would work,” says Ross Buchmueller, president and CEO of PURE Insurance.

“While that’s noble and constructive, it’s not particularly effective. Very successful people who are very busy are not sufficiently expert in water mitigation or other potential hazards. And they don’t have a lot of time. Getting them to actually fulfill the recommendations is a challenge.”

In 2019, PURE helped a member with a waterfront home create a hurricane-resistant bunker for his $10 million collectible car. PURE's risk- and collections-management teams worked with the member’s builder on design specifications for the bunker’s elevation, doors, storm shutters and drainage system. Then the team developed an action plan with detailed steps on moving and securing the antique car in a hurricane.

Illustration of toilet supply line
Faulty toilet supply lines can cause millions in water damage. Reduce the risk by replacing plastic supply lines and connectors with metal ones.

...Water damage is the No. 1 cause of claims, but it is also very preventable, Mr. Buchmueller notes. To that end, PURE ran a pilot program in Austin, Texas, last year with Home Point, a home-repair and maintenance company. PURE members can schedule a HomePoint technician to come and replace plastic supply lines and connectors on toilets with more­ durable metal ones.

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