METLIFE AUTO & HOME® POLL REVEALS AMERICANS “CHECKING OUT” ON HOME SAFETY BASICS
WARWICK, RI - June 20, 2011 – When it comes to safety, most people feel they have a good grasp on the basics – but common sense do’s and don’ts often go overlooked in the hustle and bustle of modern life. According to the MetLife Auto & Home American Safety Pulse: Danger at the Door survey, many Americans are inadvertently opening the door to expensive home damage and putting themselves and their possessions at risk. Major areas of concern uncovered by the poll include “over-sharing” on social networks and being careless when it comes to everyday household chores.
When is Social Media Too Social?
Although people today are not leaving their doors physically open to thieves, quite a few may be unknowingly inviting burglars in via social media. According to MetLife Auto & Home’s safety poll, nearly 8 out of 10 (79 percent) people say they never leave their doors unlocked, under any circumstances. However, 15 percent of the total population report using social networking sites to post updates when leaving their homes, and more than double that amount—fully 35 percent—of younger Americans (aged 18-34) “check in” to locations and tweet about their whereabouts. While these social notices help friends keep tabs on friends, they can also give burglars clues about the best time to strike—especially when updates or photos indicate that a person or family is away for an extended period, such as on vacation.
“It’s important for both homeowners and renters, especially those active on social networking sites, to be aware of the risks posed by sharing their locations online,” said Mike Convery, Chief Claim Officer, MetLife Auto & Home. “This is especially true with younger consumers, who tend to be renters. Even worse, research has shown that a majority of renters do not have renter’s insurance to protect themselves in case of a burglary.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, rented households are burglarized at rates 50 percent higher than residents who own property, but less than half of American renters have renter’s insurance to protect themselves against theft and other risks. MetLife Auto & Home's 2010 Insurance Literacy survey suggested that part of this insurance gap may be created by misconceptions. Of those polled who said they do not have renters insurance, a third (33%) said it was because the insurance is too expensive, and almost a quarter (23%) thought they were covered by their landlord’s insurance. In reality, landlord’s insurance only provides protection for the rental property – not the valuables inside or the renter’s personal assets in the case of a liability claim. Surprisingly, the cost of the typical renter’s insurance policy is only a couple of hundred dollars a year or less.
On the household chore front, nearly three quarters (73 percent) of Americans acknowledge that household appliances like the dishwasher, clothes dryer or washer have the potential to cause extensive fire or water damage, yet 55 percent admit to leaving these appliances running when they leave the home. The most common appliance Americans leave running is the washing machine (33 percent), followed by the clothes dryer (32 percent) and dishwasher (28 percent). Although some may feel it necessary in these busier times, the cost of leaving an appliance unattended can be high: according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, the average cost of a claim involving a washing machine loss is $5,308, and the amount can be exponentially higher if the appliance is located on the second floor.
“We’ve seen many hundreds of water damage claims involving ruined carpets and damaged walls, as well as electrical fires, which came about because insureds were just trying to squeeze in an extra load of laundry or wash one more set of dishes before leaving their dwelling,” said Convery. “Although letting appliances run unattended may help save a few minutes here and there, in the long run, the resulting damage cleanup could end up being far more time-consuming and quite expensive.”
Consumers can reduce the likelihood of an expensive loss by being careful to only run appliances when someone is home who can take action to prevent an accident from occurring, or at least quickly respond and reduce the severity of the loss. To further reduce the likelihood of a loss occurring, it’s important to perform basic maintenance on all appliances, such as washing machines and dryers, most of which take just a few minutes (and often, costs less than $10). This includes purchasing good quality hoses and clamps on washing machine hoses, shutting off valves on washing machines, installing a drain pan, and inspecting dryer vents. For additional information on home safety basics, visit www.lifeadvice.org.
The American Safety Pulse: Danger at the Door survey is the first in the American Safety Pulse poll series, which will be conducted by MetLife Auto & Home throughout the year. The pulse polls consist of a series of ten short questions, with research conducted by ORC International, as part of a CARAVAN survey®.
MetLife Auto & Home is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading provider of insurance and financial services with operations throughout the U.S. and the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions. MetLife Auto & Home is one of the nation’s leading personal line property and casualty insurance companies, insuring more than 4 million autos and homes. For more information, please visit www.metlife.com.
MetLife Auto & Home is a brand of Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and its affiliates, Warwick, RI