Over 70% of Home and Auto Owners Don’t Have a Plan to Handle Surprise Maintenance Costs

BY Rachel Cagle
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Budgeting for monthly expenses like groceries and utility bills is a no-​brainer, but according to a new study conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance, Americans aren't budgeting for essential home or car maintenance. The research found that the majority (80%) of homeowners and (74%) of auto owners don't have a plan or budget in place and tend to procrastinate or deal with home and car maintenance issues as they arise. In fact, almost half of Americans (48%) have less than $1,000 saved for home maintenance issues or repairs and one in three have no money saved. When it comes to auto maintenance, the majority of Americans (60%) are saving less than $500 and more than one-​fourth aren't setting aside any money at all.

According to AudienceSCAN, 65.7% of consumers who want to increase their savings own their homes. In terms of what vehicles they own, 16.5% own Fords, 15.9% own Chevrolets, 14.1% own Toyotas and 11.7% own Hondas.

The costs can clearly add up quickly for consumers if not prepared. For example, according to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to replace a furnace is $4,000, and a roof repair costs an average of $774. Angie's List also reports that replacing four tires costs an average of $637. The Liberty Mutual study reveals that Americans aren't just skimping on savings, but they're procrastinating much more on the home front (69%) than with their car (31%) when it comes to maintenance and repairs.

The research also found some surprising cross-​generational findings on the home front—specifically that older doesn't always mean wiser: Baby Boomers and older generations are the least likely to save for home maintenance or repairs. Fifty-​seven percent of Boomers said they would deal with maintenance as needed, but don't have a plan or budget for it as compared to Gen Xer's (51%) and millennials (32%).

According to AudienceSCAN, 20.3% of consumers who want to reduce debt and/​or increase savings are over the age of 65 and another 20.1% are between the ages of 55 and 64.

Severe weather can also pose a problem for homeowners and auto owners. Whether it's a hurricane, tornado, snow storm or thunderstorm, it's important to be prepared before the storm hits. The study found that almost one third (31%) of homeowners do not proactively prepare for major weather-​related events, leaving them vulnerable to potential home and car issues.

Chip Wade and Liberty Mutual offer the following tips to proactively avoid home and auto issues.

  • Planning is Key: Determine the maintenance projects you can do yourself to save money and the projects you'll need to hire a professional to complete. If you are planning a major home improvement project don't forget to contact your insurance provider to be sure you have the appropriate coverage. In fact, the study found that the majority of homeowners (61%) do not contact their insurance provider following a major home improvement.
  • Know What it's Worth: In addition to being proactive about taking care of your home, it's also important to understand the value of what's inside so it's properly protected. Half of those surveyed didn't know the value of what their belongings were worth, despite 40% saying they were confident in their coverage. In addition, nearly half of renters (47%) don't have renters insurance to protect their belongings. Don't procrastinate protecting your valuables until it's time to replace them.

To reach consumers who want to be more proactive about increasing their savings, advertise where AudienceSCAN reports 52.7% of them get their local news: TV. Within the last year, 61.6% of these consumers took action after seeing a commercial on TV. Within that same time period, 59% reacted to ads and/​or coupons they received in the mail.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.