01/18/2022 By: Jeff Encke, courtesy of Safeco.
Home-related trends: higher building materials costs and a skilled labor shortage
If you’ve shopped at Home Depot or Lowe’s lately, you’ve probably noticed that the price tags on building materials have risen dramatically. In the first year of the pandemic, lumber prices alone jumped 42%.1 Steel mill products rose a staggering 81% in the first three quarters of 2021.2 Higher materials costs naturally lead to more expensive bids on home repairs and new construction.
To make matters worse, the home-building industry is facing a shortfall of at least 200,000 skilled trade workers, which is driving up construction-related labor costs. About 60% of surveyed builders report a skilled labor shortage.3 Combined with the high cost of construction materials, this has been making home claims much more expensive for carriers.
Auto-related trends: supply chain issues and more frequent and severe car accidents
An ongoing shortage of microchips and other critical parts like wiring harnesses, plastics and glass is making it more costly to repair or replace a vehicle after an accident.
Automakers recently reported that, as of Aug. 2021, U.S. dealers had fewer than 1 million new cars on their lots, 72% less than they did in Aug. 20194 – and that scarcity is revving up costs. Between Oct. 2020 and Oct. 2021, new car prices rose 10.6% – the sharpest 12-month jump since 1975 – while used car prices skyrocketed nearly 32%.5
At the same time, accidents have become more frequent and severe in the past year, increasing the number and cost of auto claims. In the first six months of 2021, car accident fatalities increased 16% from the previous year, and nearly 2.5 million people sustained injuries requiring consultation with a medical professional.6
1 CoreLogic Quarterly Construction Insights (Q2 2021).
2 National Association of Home Builders. “Building Material Prices: Large Increases Year to Date” (Sept. 2021).
3 Home Builders Institute. “New Report: Construction Industry’s Worker Shortage Hurts Housing Affordability and Supply” (April 2021).
4 CBS News. “Chip shortage likely to keep car prices sky-high through 2023” (Sept. 2021).
5 CNN Business. “’This is a crisis now.’ Biden official pleads with Congress to immediately address computer chip shortage” (Dec. 2021).
6 National Safety Council (NSC). “Injury Facts: Preliminary Semiannual Estimates” (Q3 2021).