Home insurance perks for green-friendly design (guest post)

house and moneyWondering how to get your residential clients to pony up more money for green design?  Check out today’s guest post by Carrie Van Brunt-Wiley and Katherine Wood.  They are writers for the Homeowners’ Insurance Blog, which serves as a resource center for insurance consumers and homebuyers across the country.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s new LEEDv4 standards present challenges for contractors, engineers, and architects – the restrictions in many cases are more stringent. There is, however an added bonus to remaining on the sustainable-building track: it’s more marketable than you think.

That’s because green homes don’t just appeal to buyers with environmental concerns any more. Now smart budgeters seek them out as well. Why? While it’s true that sustainable construction can cost about 2% more than conventional methods, McGraw-Hill’s Smart Market Report says it typically increases a building’s overall value by an average of 7.5% and improves the return on investment by 6.6%.

In fact, 80% of Generation Y homebuyers said in 2012 that they prefer energy-efficient homes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Buying both green and new not only can save your clients on utilities costs, it also can reduce their home insurance premiums.

Pitching the insurance angle

Rightly or wrongly, the insurance industry isn’t known for innovation. However, it is embracing sustainability. Why? Americans experienced $52.9 billion in insured property losses in 2012 – $30 billion more than the average annual losses from 2001 to 2011. For more than two decades, the home insurance industry has quietly monitored climate change and its impact on the weather, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Many providers now are committed to being more visibly sustainable in their own practices and extending their concerns to the business of insuring residential, commercial, industrial, and other buildings. Why? Because environmentally friendly construction, using updated materials and systems, typically proves to be more durable – and less likely to result in huge insurance claims.  If you already participate in these green building practices, use them to your advantage by mentioning how much clients could save.

Some environmentally friendly features that can earn your clients savings:

  • Buying new: Homebuyers typically can earn a home insurance discount (usually around 10%) when they buy a house built within the last 10 years. New homes normally prove more energy efficient as well.
  • Sustainable roof: As much as 95% of wind and water related losses to the home involve roof      damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute (iii). That’s a big deal when the average loss resulting from wind or water damage adds up to more than $6,000.

Homeowners insurance providers offer lower premiums to homes with roofs made of more durable, sustainable materials such as steel and aluminum. These roofs can save on energy efficiency, and they also can better withstand wind, rain, and hail. If your designs include these roofs you can use these expected insurance savings figures when marketing to your clients.

  • Efficient plumbing and fixtures: About one quarter of home claims in the U.S. are caused by water damage, with the average claim exceeding $7,000. By designing updated, green friendly plumbing, you can save your clients a huge mess both physically and monetarily.
  • Electrical system:      Each year, 19,000 to 25,000 fires in the U.S. involve electrical wiring or lighting equipment, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Outdated electrical systems and wiring present significantly more fire risk. The average cost of a house fire claim is more than $33,000, so buyers could qualify for lower premiums when the home includes modern wiring and circuit-breakers. New systems also are more energy efficient so they can save the client more money in utilities.
  • HVAC: Malfunctioning heating and cooling systems are the second-leading cause of house fires in the U.S. (after cooking). Newer, more efficient systems involve less risk and therefore can save your clients money in insurance premiums.

Twice the advantage

When practices you already use in your everyday work can provide you with an extra client selling point, why not take advantage? Use home insurance and utilities perks to help you sweeten the deal for your residential clients. If your work includes security systems, fire safety sprinklers, or smoke detectors, you also can alert them of additional home insurance discounts for those features. Now it can be satisfying both morally and monetarily to be environmentally friendly.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions?  Share in the comment section, below.

Picture via Flickr/401k2013 thru CC license.

 

Add a comment »2 comments to this article

  1. What I like best about going green is the double-win: you save a lot of money and contribute in your way to he saving of the environment. Thanks for the article, Melissa, a lot of good, practical stuff here.

    Reply

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