Home Owners Face Soaring Homeowners Insurance Costs

June 4, 2013

The cost of homeowners insurance rose 36 percent from 2003 to 2010 -- nearly double the rate of inflation, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Coastal regions are seeing the largest increases: Fourteen out of the top 15 states seeing the largest percentage rate increases border the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean. Those states have seen rates rise at least 44 percent. 

In states like Florida, some areas have seen rates soar 91 percent from 2003 to 2010 -- the highest in the nation. Rates in Rhode Island have risen 62 percent.

About 16 million households fall in coastal counties along the Gulf and Atlantic.

One explanation for the rise in insurance premiums: Claims from severe weather have been on the rise. From 2004 to 2011, hurricanes and other weather catastrophes led to 39 percent of nationwide homeowners insurance claims payments, compared to 25 percent from 1997 to 2003, according to the Insurance Research Council. 

Insurers also may have sold policies too cheaply over the years in trying to lure customers to their more profitable auto and life insurance policies. Regulators may have been holding prices down in some states too, says Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute in New York. 

Critics say that insurers are inflating the insured value of homes by saying that it would cost more to rebuild. 

"We’ve had insurers applying a 10 percent to 12 percent inflation factor every year to dwelling value," says Willo Kelly, who lobbies for real estate agents and homebuilders on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. "Every increase that company applies to dwelling value is an increase in the premium, an increase in the deductible, and an increase in the agent’s commission."

Source: “Coastal Homeowners Stagger Under Insurance Costs,” Associated Press (June 3, 2013)

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