IRC Study Says Most Homeowners Support Home Safety Requirements

June 3, 2003

Most homeowners – 75 percent – surveyed recently by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) believe that state and local requirements that new homes be built to withstand damage from natural disasters are an excellent or a good idea. More than six in 10 (62 percent) say they would be very or somewhat willing to pay an additional 6 percent for a new home to meet the requirements. The findings are based on IRC’s new report, Public Attitude Monitor 2003, Issue 1.

The report shows that support for building codes transcends geographic regions but is especially strong in the South, which historically has been vulnerable to hurricane damage. Among Southern homeowners, four out of five say that building codes are an excellent or a good idea, and over two-thirds (68 percent) maintain their support even when the codes add 6 percent to a new home’s cost.

Even when not required by law, many homeowners have taken steps to protect their home from common household perils such as: (1) fire caused by faulty appliances (77 percent), (2) theft (74 percent), (3) flooding caused by rain or snow (64 percent), or (4) flooding caused by faulty appliances (63 percent). For every peril, the percentage of homeowners who have taken steps to protect their home increases with household income.

The report also finds that homeowners are well versed in disaster- preparedness measures. Almost nine out of ten know how to turn off the electricity (88 percent) and water (87 percent) in an emergency, and almost three-fourths (74 percent) know how to turn off the gas. Two-thirds of households report that they have a disaster-preparedness kit, over half (57 percent) have a fire escape plan, and approximately two out of five (42 percent) have prepared an inventory of their household’s contents in case they were destroyed. A large majority of homes have safety features such as a smoke detector (97 percent), deadbolt locks on exterior doors (85 percent), fire extinguishers (83 percent), exterior floodlights and/or motion detectors (68 percent), and ground fault circuit interrupters (GFIs) near sinks and tubs (62 percent).

“Homeowners value home safety,” explained Elizabeth Sprinkel, senior vice president of the IRC. “Homeowners support building codes that make their homes safer even when they increase the cost of a home. In addition, they often make safety improvements to their home that are not required by law.”

The survey also found that ninety-five percent of homeowners carry a homeowners or condominium owners insurance policy.

Approximately one in five has purchased additional water back-up (22 percent) and flood coverage (20 percent), and approximately one in ten (12 percent) carries earthquake coverage. Homeowners who believe that a natural disaster will damage homes in their area are more likely than homeowners who don’t believe they are in a disaster-prone area to purchase coverage for floods (31 percent) or earthquakes (25 percent).

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