Many consumers have opened letters from their car insurance company this year and been disappointed to learn that their premiums are going up. Sometimes by a lot.
Lynette of Boca Raton, Fla., said she and her husband have been insured with The Hartford, through AARP, for years.
"Many years with company never a late payment. Never a claim, no tickets, no accidents, clean driving record, no arrests," Lynette wrote in a ConsumerAffairs post. "And a $600.00 increase! Their commercial says will never drop you for any reason. But they sure know how to force you out!"
Before Lynette changes insurance companies she should call The Hartford. She is entitled to ask why her rate went up, especially by so much. It's possible that it's a error that could be corrected. It never hurts to ask.
Just because Lynette and her husband are good drivers and haven't submitted a claim doesn't mean their rate can't go up. Insurance is a shared risk, and if claims have jumped in Lynette's geographic area, all policyholders might be hit by a rate increase. And according to one insurance professional, that could well be one explanation.
Tough year for premiums
"I know you don't want to hear this, but 2012 is going to be a tough year for your premium," Keith Verisario, Vice-President of Chicago-area All-Security Insurance, writes in his blog. In 2011 insurance companies paid $1.16 for every $1.00 collected. They paid over $100 billion in worldwide losses. In the U.S. they paid $36 billion in losses. In 2010 it was about $18 billion -- that is a lot of negative profit, or in other words, insurance companies lost a lot of money."
Verisario suggests consumers faced with a big rate hike contact an independent insurance agent that can offer quotes from multiple A to A++ rated carriers. Another way to get a lower rate is to bundle your homeowners and auto policies with the same carrier.
In Lynette's case, she should definitely follow up with The Hartford to learn the reason for her rate hike and to make sure it isn't a mistake. Sometimes rates can be affected by a change in your credit score. By following up with the company she can make sure there isn't adverse information in her credit report that she doesn't know about.
Another Florida consumer -- Patricia, of Merritt Island -- provides hope.
"AARP/Hartford raised my car insurance from $604.00 to $732.00 and they told me that the State of Florida allowed them to do so," Patricia wrote to ConsumerAffairs. "I cancelled my policy and got new insurance for less than $300.00 a year."