Millions of Americans—as many as 1 in 40—have hoarding tendencies, and it is even more prevalent among older people. Hoarding is different than collecting because hoarders pursue items with little value. Hoarders also have difficulty getting rid of any items. A hoarder’s house is more than just cluttered: it is overflowing with piles of stuff that can fill entire rooms.
Unfortunately, hoarding can have a negative impact on home insurance, including:
- Increased fire risk. Having mountains of stuff can create an increased fire load. Also, if exits are blocked, occupants may not be able to escape a fire and firefighters may not be able to locate people or pets.
- Increased liability risk. Visitors face increased risk of trips, falls, and injuries due to overflowing clutter.
- Undiscovered damage. In the event of a water leak, home occupants may not discover it for quite some time. Hoarders may also be reluctant to allow outside guests, including contractors, into the home, so the problem may go unresolved for a long time.
- Structural issues. If there is a water leak, it can cause mold or even weaken the structural integrity of the home. And if the volume of stuff is extensive enough, the weight can cause floors or ceilings to collapse.
- Claims handling difficulty. In the event of a claim, it can be challenging to determine if contents were damaged by a covered loss or if the damage is related to the hoarding itself. It can also be difficult to agree on the value of damaged contents.