Why Lumber Prices Raised Home Insurance Rates
It probably comes as no surprise that home construction costs impact insurance rates. A home’s replacement cost estimate, which is the amount needed to rebuild your home from the bottom up, is based on construction and lumber costs. As lumber prices go up, so does your replacement cost estimate, and ultimately, the insurance premium.
Lumber Prices Are Up 193%
Lumber prices are at an all-time high. Back in April 2021, the cost of lumber per thousand board feet hit $1,048 – a 193 percent jump. That surge continued throughout May, and while lumber prices have begun to fall, they’re still up over 200 percent from April of 2020.
Why Is Lumber So Expensive?
The rise in lumber prices is a result of a perfect storm that started with increased demand due to storm damage in the southern United States. Next came the pandemic that slowed lumber production just when everyone was staying home and starting home improvement projects. All the while, historically low mortgage rates spawned new home builds. Basically, everything that could put a demand on an industry happened in the course of a year.
Construction Costs, Inflation, and Home Insurance Rates
The dwelling coverage found in every home policy is driven by the replacement cost estimate – essentially, what it costs to build a new home similar to your old home. Construction costs, both in terms of labor and materials, impact this estimate, so insurance rates go up when construction costs do. Inflation rates can help illustrate this relationship.
While the percent change in home insurance premiums don’t go hand in hand with the rate of inflation, they do move somewhat in line. One interesting point to note is the sudden surge in home insurance premiums and inflation in 2018. Lumber prices soared then, too, increasing 30 percent from August 2017 to January 2018 – right after Hurricane Harvey.
Anything that increases demand for a good, in this case lumber, can cause inflation. The same is true if there’s a disruption in the supply chain, like a pandemic that keeps people from working. And there you have it again: the perfect storm.
The Effects Reconstruction Costs
Different geographic locations are affected differently by the cost of reconstruction. Those hit hardest tend to be areas where transporting goods is difficult and where natural disasters have forced a significant increase in the demand for reconstruction.
Southern States like Louisiana and Florida are good examples of how storm damage can lead to an increased demand for home repairs. The same can be said for California, where wildfires have also caused serious home damage and loss throughout the state. All the losses result in a higher demand for reconstruction and materials needed to rebuild.
Insurance companies have no choice but to consider the cost to rebuild a home when pricing homeowners insurance. While something like lumber costs is just one component of the replacement cost estimate, it is a major one that affects every insured home.
What Homeowners Can Expect from Rising Construction Costs
Homeowners insurance costs are on the rise because lumber costs have driven up replacement cost estimates. But remember that replacement cost estimate is only one factor insurers use to calculate your premium. Many homeowners are also seeing rate increases because of their claims history, flood exposure, and other high-risk factors.
With so many variables, it’s important to control the ones you can, so make sure that your home’s replacement cost estimate is accurate. Talk to your broker and review the details of how the estimate was made.
Ensure any recent upgrades, like hardwood floors or high-end cabinetry, are included so your coverage adequately reflects what it would cost to rebuild your home. This may increase the replacement cost, but it’s better to have the right amount of coverage than to be one of the 64 percent of homeowners who are underinsured.
Source: Kin Insurance