Letter to clients dated 9/18/2023
I wanted to provide you with another update on the state of the insurance industry. The last broad overview I sent was in April. This is a very lengthy update, but we feel we need to provide everyone with a clear understanding of why their insurance rates WILL be going up, and by a LOT!
The top questions we are getting right now are:
Why is my premium going up so much?
Why is my Home policy being non-renewed unless I prove home upgrades?
Our goal as your agent is to make sure you have proper coverage. It does not help for you to be paying for insurance, and then find you didn’t have enough coverage when you need it. That said, we do not have any control over the current economic inflation that has now impacted the majority of industries in our country.
As many of you are aware, after Covid, there have been significant price increases in food, electricity, gas, homes, cars and all supplies for upgrades and repairs. In the state of CA, there was a block in rate increases for insurance companies for multiple years, and this has resulted in insurance companies not having enough to cover the amount of claims they are paying out.
The insurance industry last year took record breaking losses across all major carriers (for example State Farm lost 13.9 billion in 2022), and now they are becoming more conservative on the risks they are willing to write. And with the unfortunate continuation of inflation in building and automotive materials, I do not see the rates going back down anytime soon.
Rate increases are a national issue in all 50 states, but magnified more so in states like CA since the Department of Insurance is now finally approving rate increases. Because they didn’t increase for so many years, the rate surges now are like a big “catch up” so companies don’t go insolvent, and all leave the state.
I have some reports which I saw this morning showing even more rate increase approvals coming with all the CA carriers. The increases range from 14% all the way up to 58%!!!! In short, when you get your renewal premium, you WILL SEE AN INCREASE, and other than for some obscure reasons, you will most likely be seeing a very significant increase.
We still feel that the carriers we are quoting with have the most competitive rates. If you decide to shop your rates outside our agency and happen to find something less expensive, I suggest making sure the coverages and limits are the same as not all policies are alike. We would also be happy to look at anything you find to be sure you are getting the best rate without cutting coverage.
In addition, for home insurance policies, the carriers are now requiring proof of roof, plumbing and electrical upgrades for many clients in the state. There is no way around this, and the policies will non-renew without proof, so when you get these notices, it is important that you start the process early, or you will lose the coverage.
There are many carriers who have left the state of CA completely, so it is harder for us to place clients right now with minimal companies open to new business. Because of this, we strongly recommend that you do all you can to keep your policy in force. Provide documentation that the insurance company is asking for AND PAY YOUR BILL ON TIME. If you don’t pay your renewal on time, the company has the right to cancel which will lead to you having no coverage until we can rewrite your policy.
Thankfully the carriers we are appointed with are financially sound, A.M.-Best Rated A, and while they are increasing as well, they are still competitive. Especially if you bundle.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. If you still want to read more on this topic, I composed and posted some additional information at the close of this email.
Woodland Park Insurance Services
Other factors affecting Claims and Rates:
It's important to note that the surge in insurance rates isn't just fueled by inflation. Yes, inflation is a significant player in the current scenario, but the issue at hand is intricate and has many layers. In recent years, there's been a significant rise in insurance fraud activities involving undisclosed operators, misuse of family members' addresses to evade higher premiums, claims fraud, and other manipulative tactics prevalent in new business sales, as well as during the claims process (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/rcna29649)
Additionally, there is a staggering rise in vehicle thefts and vandalism across the country, with several areas witnessing a lax approach to the prosecution of such crimes (you can reference the “KIA Boys” case for more details). https://www.axios.com/2023/07/20/car-thefts-2023-kia-hyundai-crime-data
Furthermore, we are facing an uptick in natural disasters nationwide, with several hurricanes and extreme weather events occurring just this year, causing extensive damage in many states. Another pivotal factor is the inability to secure sufficient premiums, (particularly evident in states like CA and FL as mentioned). The insurance companies in these states are bound by the rate increases approved by the state, which has led to a shortage in premium available, hence escalating the business costs in these areas and causing some companies to withdraw their services completely. https://www.ocregister.com/2022/11/27/insurance-commissioner-laras-inaction-is-causing-an-auto-insurance-coverage-crisis/amp/
Many other states outside of CA and FL actually have had to endure rate increases to help SUBSIDIZE the losses in CA and FL!
It’s crucial to understand that the insurance sector operates on a large pool of funds. As the funds start dwindling, it necessitates a hike in the individual rates to offset the losses, explaining the current rise in your rates. To provide a clearer picture, several major insurance companies have reported substantial profit losses in their recent quarterly reports, with companies like State Farm witnessing a significant $6 billion dollar dip into the red zone. In a nutshell, it's a challenging period for the insurance sector, navigating through a market that is notably volatile at this time.
Letter to clients dated 4/4/2023
Wow! What a wild time it has been for the US Insurance Industry during these past 15 months.
According to a recent press release from APCI, (click for more) : In 2022, the United States Property and Casualty Industry experienced a staggering $26.9 BILLION Underwriting Loss!
To put that into context.... this is more than six times higher than the $3.8 BILLION underwriting loss in 2021, and the largest loss the industry has seen since 2011.
Due to inflationary costs to replace and repair losses, natural catastrophes, legal-system abuse, increase in accident severity and State Policies to try to keep rates low during this Post-Covid era, Insurance Carriers are facing some serious challenges while trying to provide consumers with affordable and optimal policy and coverage options for their clients' assets (homes, cars, boats, motorcycles, rental property etc…).
In an effort to help the insurance carriers gain a “lifeline” in California, the Department of Insurance has approved a sweeping number of rate increases for the various lines of business. This means that, just like other industries (food, energy, mortgage, retail, hospitality, transportation etc…), California consumers have been, or will be seeing, rate increases on their insurance policies during 2023.
This is not isolated to just one carrier; many of the major carriers in CA had rate increase approval in December 2022 and February 2023…. and there is more to come.
Fortunately, for our Woodland Park Insurance Services’ clients, we have appointments with several "AM Best Rated = Excellent” companies that are quite competitive.
We want to thank all our clients who have been so very patient with us (during this past 7 months especially) with having to go through the process of rewriting many of your policy contracts, and having the Carrier Underwriting departments perform an all-new review. This has been a requirement imposed on many California agencies by the insurance carriers. It has been hard on us too! ☹
We know that this has led to periods of gaps in coverage, and unfortunately, a delay in turn-around time for us being able to service our client’s policy requests.
The Good News…
We feel that we are over the hump of conducting the bulk of policy rewrites, and we have also increased our staff and office workflow technology, so that we can be much more efficient with helping our clients.
What clients can do to make sure their policy is in good standing with our carriers….
1. Pay your insurance bill ‘before’ the expiration date. If you are on a recurring payment plan, do not miss a payment.
Right now, if a client is even a minute late paying (literally), there are a lot of carriers who will not give a grace period and will want to do a deep review and rewrite.
If you have further questions on this, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our agents will explain this in more detail. This has been an enormous undertaking for us (and all those underwriters!). We request that you do your best to pay on time. 😊
***note if you always pay your bill on time, are on auto-pay, auto-draft with sufficient funds……you do NOT need to worry!! We know many of you always pay on time. Please keep doing so, we appreciate you! If you have a hard time remembering, at the bottom of this notice, we have some suggestions for what you can do.
2. Consider bundling your policies with us. Most all of our carriers will provide decent multi-policy discounts. A bundle of "Auto + Homeowners" can often provide an attractive premium.
3. Drive safely. Having a clean driving record is super important for keeping your premium down. Go to Traffic School if you are able to, so you can remove points for speeding tickets.
4. If a Carrier issues a letter requesting information about your home, vehicle, youth drivers, returned mail, proof of employment, other occupants…. Take this seriously. The carrier needs a prompt response, or they will Non-Renew your policy. You can provide your response to our agency, and we will respond to the carrier on your behalf and make sure that any pending non-renewal is lifted. (text us, email, call, leave us a voicemail etc).
~If the carrier is requesting maintenance or repairs on your home, please plan to take care of this as soon as possible, or your policy will be set to non-renew. Be able to produce photos and/or receipts. Note: Roof repairs/replacements require an invoice from a licensed contractor, details about the materials used and the date that service was completed.~
5. Be honest!
For Auto: Be honest with your mileage on all vehicles, with who lives in your household, who drives which cars on the policy, where your car is garaged.
For Home: Be honest about what dogs you own, if you have a pool, a trampoline etc. We do our best to calculate replacement value estimates, but obviously this is always subject to an insurance appraiser’s report. If you have valuables in the home (expensive jewelry, high value art pieces…), please be able to produce receipts or appraisal reports so that we can accurately include the replacement value for special items.
With current technology (think drone cameras and mileage tracking), carriers all will be able to find out everything, and you could be subject to a non-renewal, or a surprise premium increase. We see this quite regularly now. Also, keep receipts to prove repairs and upgrades on your home, car servicing records etc…
6. Email, text or Call us if you would like for us to review your policy and current lifestyle situation. We want to make sure you are properly insured. Let us know if you are curious about quotes with other lines of business.
>Do you Rent? A “Renters Policy” is a very inexpensive means for covering your personal items for theft and damage, as well as additional living costs in case you need to temporarily relocate in the event of your rental becoming inhabitable while repairs are made. Contact us for a Rental Insurance Quote.
-What about Earthquake coverage? Many people do not realize that in the event of an Earthquake, their Homeowners policy does not cover the replacement for damaged personal items or costs to rebuild a destroyed home.
Did you know that it has been 29 years since the Northridge CA Earthquake?
According to the California Department of Conservation, more than 70% of the state's population resides within 30 miles of a fault line. This 30-mile radius is typically where high ground shaking could occur.
During the 1994 Northridge earthquake:
-Approximately 82,000 residential and commercial units and 5,400 mobile homes were damaged or destroyed.
-There were areas without power and water for more than five days.
-125,000 people were made at least temporarily homeless.
Contact us and request an Earthquake policy quote. We have a few carrier options to choose from.
- Personal Umbrella Coverage: This is a very low-cost way to get significant extra liability coverage and asset protection.
Do you have a home and investments? Even the most cautious, well-intentioned person could get caught in an unfortunate situation. If something were to happen where monetary damages exceeded the limits of your auto or homeowners’ insurance policy, you could have to pay out of pocket. This would have to come from your other assets. Please call us so we can quote you on a Personal Umbrella Policy! It would not hurt just to find out how much it would be.
We also offer insurance services for Landlord Dwellings (have investment property that you rent?), Boat, Motorcycle, eBike, Pet, RV, Mobile Home, Small Business Owner, Cybersecurity, SnowMobile, Classic Cars, Watercraft toys, Special Events.
Phew! Are you still with me? Thank you so much for reading this!
We are so grateful for each and every one of you!
Gail Brothers-Crozier, COO
Woodland Park Insurance Services
~ Where Buying Insurance is Like a Walk in the Park.
Celebrating our 60 year anniversary in 2024
Choice, Advice and Ease.
Tips for making sure to pay your insurance bill on time.
The Insurance Carriers have Self Service Web portals for making payments. Safeco, Pacific Specialty, Kemper/Infiniti, Geovera and pretty much every one of our carriers provide for this. Contact us if you need help finding these resources.
For our clients with Mercury Insurance especially, we strongly recommend that you download the Mercury Insurance App. You can set up alerts, pay your bills through your phone, make basic policy changes (which come directly to our agency), report a claim, view ID Cards right when you need them, change your payment method. Once you register, you will have access to all your policies, you can use the same login for the Mercury Web site portal. For more details, you can read from this source (click), and then you can download from the App-Store or Google Play.
Thank you from your Woodland Park Insurance Services Team!
Woodland Park Insurance Services
- Where Buying Insurance is Like a Walk in the Park
CA LIC# 0H99404
MT LIC# 3001675263
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