America’s Homeowners are Financially Unprepared for an Emergency

When researchers ask the average American whether they could handle the cost of an unexpected home repair project, the answer is simple: no. That lack of financial preparedness is compounded by the fact that many homeowners do not understand what their homeowner’s insurance actually covers.

This leaves many American homeowners in a tough spot when faced with an emergency repair that’s not covered by their insurance.

HomeServe USA (HomeServe), a leading provider of home repair solutions and administrator of the NLC Service Line Warranty Program, announced these findings as part of the sixth edition of HomeServe’s Biannual State of the Home Survey.

According to the report, many American homeowners are poorly prepared for a home repair emergency. One-third of homeowners have less than $1,000 set aside for home repairs, while one-fifth of respondents reported to have no savings at all set aside for an emergency repair. Beyond a homeowner’s ability to pay for an emergency repair, the survey found that many American homeowners are unsure of who is ultimately responsible to pay for the work.

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Of the homeowners surveyed, 13% believed that either the city or their utility would foot the bill for a repair, while 11% incorrectly assumed they would be covered by their homeowner’s insurance.

“It’s easy to assume that the homeowner’s insurance we pay into will be there to help with any emergency repair,” says John Kitzie, CEO of HomeServe USA. “In fact, that’s not the case in all situations. Unfortunately, standard homeowner insurance policies do not cover repairs to exterior water or sewer lines that connect to the city system. If homeowners don’t take steps to proactively protect themselves, a simple leak can wind up becoming a major financial surprise.”

These leaks and breaks in water and sewer lines are far more common than most people assume. HomeServe’s study found that 51% of homeowners reported having a home repair emergency in the past year alone, while 37% stated that they had trouble finding a contractor to complete their work.

For cities, half the battle of handling emergency home repairs is educating homeowners that they are responsible when the need for a repair strikes.

“During a home emergency, homeowners want to know that help is on the way. It can be incredibly frustrating and even scary when homeowners have to wait for a contractor while water backs up into their house,” said Kitzie. “HomeServe takes its commitment to customers very seriously, and we pledge to be there when home emergencies arise. With just a single call, night or day, HomeServe makes the repair process easy.”

NLC’s Service Line Warranty Program works directly with cities and towns to raise awareness and to provide affordable coverage options for covered repairs. With over 440 cities currently enrolled, and over $85 million in out of pocket expenses covered in the last three years alone, the NLC Service Line Warranty Program helps NLC member cities tackle the issue of private infrastructure maintenance and repair.

bill eller headshotAbout the author: Bill Eller currently serves as Vice President, Business Development at HomeServe. He is responsible for working with municipalities to educate and develop the best program options for their residents.


The NLC Service Line Warranty Program partners with cities to educate residents about their responsibilities for water and sewer service lines and offer optional repair service plans to protect them from unexpected repair costs. For more information, visit