The Best Way to Pick a Florida Take Out Homeowners Insurance Company

Citizens Property Insurance is Florida’s state run home insurance company. It was formed to offer home insurance coverage to consumers unable to find coverage from a private Florida home insurance company. Homeowners in Florida turn to Citizens for coverage due to one or more risk factors that make their home undesirable to private insurance companies. These risk factors include among other things – the home’s age, distance from the coast, construction materials, and roof type.

Citizens Property Insurance depends on a mix of pre-event hurricane borrowing and imposing after the storm surcharges on all Florida home insurance policies if it doesn’t have the money it needs to pay claims.

This potentially lethal mix of high risk homes along with being under funded is one of the reasons that it’s always been a good idea to try to reduce the number of policies in Citizens Property Insurance. The smaller the number of policies that the company has, there is less chance that policyholders across Florida will have to pay large special assessments for many years after a major hurricane.

One of the ways that is done is by encouraging private home insurance companies to assume or “take out” policies currently covered by Citizens Property Insurance – hence the name “take out companies”. The take out process is also referred to as depopulation.

Attracting companies to assume or take policies out of Citizens Insurance Florida is good public policy.

In addition to moving more of Florida’s wind risk to the private market, customers may also get better customer service from a private take out company that doesn’t have a massive base of over 1 million customers like Citizens. They are also usually rewarded with annual insurance premiums that are lower than what they were paying Citizens. Finally, policyholders with private insurance companies are subject to smaller special assessments after major hurricanes.

Florida take out home insurance companies come to life with an immediate customer base of policyholders without having to make the usual investments in marketing and adverting. When these companies are initially capitalized, its easier for them to raise money because investors know that the take out companies will have an immediate customer base and money coming in immediately after they assume policies from Citizens.

Despite all the good that comes from reducing the number of Florida home insurance policies in Citizens Property Insurance, the take out program is not without its problems.

Policyholders are often concerned about the financial stability of the take out insurance companies. Many are start up companies and have a small surplus available to pay claims of $20 million or less. With Florida hurricane claims averaging $30,000 or more, even after a company’s reinsurance kicks in, there might not be enough money to pay all of the claims.

A significant number of take out companies were created after Florida’s 2004/2005 hurricane seasons. Policyholders are concerned that if their home has a hurricane claim in 2009, that their home will be “on-the job” training for the customer service staff at these newly formed companies – inexperience that could cause delays in paying claims fairly and prompty.

Many of these take out companies milk the policy base they assume and never go on to write any new business beyond the policies they take out of Citizens. Companies that don’t diversify their policy base beyond the original take out policies are more vulnerable to collapsing after a major Florida hurricane.

Last but not least, Florida insurance agents who originally wrote the policies that are being removed from Citizens might not want to become an agent with the new take out companies – even if it means they will lose the business. They simply might not want to add a new company to the mix of companies they already represent. Or they could have real concerns about the financial stability of the new take out company. The agent can’t stop consumers who want to benefit from a take out offer. However, an agent’s reluctance to be an agent with a particular company should at a minimum cause a consumer to pause and move forward with caution.

Here are the questions you should be asking your current Florida insurance agent if you are with Citizens and you are sent a take out offer – before you decide whether to move your Florida home insurance from Citizens to the new take out company:

How long has it been in business? Has it ever handled Florida hurricane claims before? If so, how many customers have filed complaints against that company for inadequate customer service.

How financially strong is the take out company? What are its financial ratings? How diversified is the company’s policy base across both Florida and other states? Are the policies being assumed by the take out company in North Central Florida, or in hurricane ground zero along the South Florida coast?

If your agent is not willing to become a new agent of one of the take out companies, that alone should be a warning sign to you. By taking this position, your agent is risking the loss of the commission your policy. Find out from your agent why they don’t want their agency to accept an appointment with the new take out company. The answer your agent gives you, might tell you everything you need to know about whether you should accept the offer from the new take out company.

Last but not least, ask your agent if there are any other Florida home insurance companies who might want to cover your home. The private home insurance market in Florida is always changing and there might be other companies now covering homes like yours that are a lot more stable.

Don’t forget, if you don’t bother to investigate these take out insurance companies, you will be the one that could be living with an unpaid claim after the next Florida hurricane.

Insurance Company Complaints – Who Are the Top 10 Companies With the Least Number of Complaints?

The New York State Department of Insurance (DOI) just released the 2008 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints. The report has been issued to help consumers find the automobile insurer that best meets their needs. You can use this report to compare the ranking of the insurance company you are doing business with now, or check another company you may be considering.

This report analyzed data collected from 2006 and 2007. It only ranks companies doing business in the State of New York. However, as New York is a heavily populated state, with both big urban centers and big suburban areas, the report can be considered a good representation of insurance company performance nationwide.

How The Ranking Works

The insurance companies are ranked on a complaint ratio. The ratio is calculated by the number of complaints upheld against companies as a percentage of their total private passenger auto business.

Insurers with the fewest upheld complaints per million dollars of premiums are shown at the top of the list. The companies with the highest ratio of complaints are ranked at the bottom.

Other Information to Consider

The ranking of an insurance company is important, but it is only one characteristic that consumers should weigh when considering doing business with an insurance company. Others are:

o Referrals from friends, relatives, neighbors or co-workers about the experiences they had with their insurance companies
o Price of the premium versus perceived value
o Search the Internet for other ideas
o Check your state’s DOI website, which may contain valuable consumer information about companies doing business in your state.

What The Ranking Does and Does Not Contain

o Private passenger insurance is the only type evaluated.
o It only includes the complaints referred by consumers to the DOI. It does not include complaints made directly to the insurance companies.
o Complaints are “upheld” when the DOI agrees with a consumer that an insurance company made an inappropriate decision.
o Information from prior years is included in the tables so consumers can see if the company has improved or gotten worse.
o All companies with at least $10 million in premium in 2006 and 2007 are included in the ranking. Insurers with less than $10 million were included if they had 10 or more complaints against them.

Top Three Most Common Complaints

1. Monetary settlements – settlement amount is too low.
2. Policy terminations
3. Promptness of insurance payments

2007 Auto Complaint Listing (ranked lowest number at top, higher as you go down)

1. Mercury General Group
2. American Express, Amex Assurance, IDS Property Casualty
3. Eveready Insurance Co.
4. Electric Insurance Group
5. Amica Mutual
6. Preferred Mutual Insurance Co.
7. United Services Automobile Assurance Group (USAA)
8. Chubb
9. Utica Mutual
10. State F*arm
11. Central Services Group, Central Insurance Group, NY Central Mutual Fire Ins.
12. Main Street America Group, National Grange Mutual
13. Progressive
14. Liberty Mutual
15. Kingsway Insurance Group, Lincoln General Ins.
16. Response Insurance Group
17. Nationwide Insurance
18. American Modern Ins. Group, American Family Home Ins.
19. St. Paul Travelers
20. Unitrin Group, Kemper
21. Erie Insurance Group
22. Berkshire Hathaway Insurance, GEICO
23. Allstate Insurance
24. The Hartford Insurance Group
25. Hanover Insurance, Citizens Ins., Allmerica Financial Alliance
26. Metropolitan Group
27. American National Financial Group
28. Allianz Insurance Group
29. GMAC, Integon, MIC P&C, National General Ins. Co.
30. Zurich Ins.Group, Foremost, Maryland Casualty
31. Hannover RE Group, Clarendon National
32. State Wide Insurance
33. White Mountains Group, OneBeacon, Esurance, Auto One Ins.
34. Countrywide Insurance
35. Safeco Insurance Group
36. American International Group (AIG)
37. Tri-State Consumer Ins. Group
38. Interboro Mutual
39. Infinity Property & Casualty
40. Long Island Insurance

Conclusion

If your auto insurance provider is not shown on this list, it could be that they don’t sell insurance in New York. Or, it could be that their number of complaints is worse than the company in the #40 position!!

Think about this statement, my friends.

The only thing that truly matters about your auto insurance is what happens when you submit a claim. Claims are about KEEPING PROMISES. When the insurance companies don’t keep their promises, the complaints pile up!

So, why would you EVER consider doing business with any insurance company LOWER than NUMBER 10 on the list?

If you are one of the unfortunate people who experience an automobile loss of any kind, you’ll need to know how to handle your insurance claim so that you maximize your recovery. I’ll even be so bold as to say this: If you do not use the strategies for submitting a claim found in my book, you will not collect all the money you are entitled to collect. You will need to know how to take control of your insurance claim, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to your claim settlement. For more information, check out the website shown below in the Resource Box.

Insurance Company Complaints – Top 10 Companies of 2012 With Least Number of Complaints

The New York State Department of Insurance (DOI) recently released the 2012 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints. The report is issued to help consumers find the automobile insurer that best meets their needs.

This report analyzed data collected from 2010 and 2011. It ranks companies doing business in the State of New York. However, as New York is a heavily populated state, with both big cities and big urban areas, the report can be considered a good representation of insurance company performance nationwide.

Use this report to see where your present car insurer ranks. You MAY want to switch insurance companies after reading this article.

2012 Auto Complaint Listing (best rank at top, more complaints as you go down)

1. Kemper Ins.
2. Progressive Northwestern Ins.
3. Great Northern Ins.
4. Merchants Preferred Ins.
5. Main Street America Ins.
6. Unitrin Auto and Home Ins.
7. Utica National Insurance of Texas
8. Old Dominion Ins.
9. Encompass Indemnity
10. Unitrin Preferred Ins.
11. Commerce and Industry Ins.
12. Encompass Insurance
13. America Automobile Insurance of Hartford
14. TravCo Ins.
16. Economy Premier Assurance
17. Barkers Standard Ins.
18. Travelers Indemnity
19. 21st Century Ins.
20. Nationwide Affinity Ins.
21. Ameriprise Ins.
22. Charter Oak Fire Ins.
23. Encompass Home and Auto Ins.
24. Electric Insurance
25. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance
26. Republic-Franklin Insurance (Utica)
27. Citizens Insurance
28. American Modern Home Insurance
29. Hartford Accident and Indemnity
30. Encompass Property and Casualty
31. 21st Century Premier Insurance
32. Nationwide Property and Casualty
33. Massachusetts Bay Insurance
34. Unitrin Advantage Insurance
35. Central Mutual Insurance
36. Associated Indemnity Corporation
37. Response Worldwide Insurance
38. American Bankers Ins.
39. National General Ins.
40. Vigilant Ins.

Conclusion

NONE of the major national companies whose ads you see on TV made the Top Ten!! The only one to break the Top TWENTY was 21st Century! There is only one other major national company in the TOP 40, and that is Nationwide.

What should that tell you?

If your present auto insurer is not shown on this list, maybe they don’t sell insurance in New York. But it likely means that their number of complaints is worse than the #40 position!

Consider this next statement carefully, my friends.

The only thing that matters about your insurance is what happens when you submit a claim. Claims are about KEEPING PROMISES. When the insurance companies don’t keep their promises, the state Departments of Insurance gets lots of complaints!

The DOI report is issued so you can make an informed decision about which insurance company you choose. Choose wisely!

If you experience an automobile loss of any kind, you’ll need to know how to handle your insurance claim so that you maximize your recovery. Learn how to take control of your insurance claim, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to your claim settlement. For more information, check out the website shown below in the Resource Box.

Lost Life Insurance Company Found

Your brother just passed away and you have a life insurance policy in your hands. It is giving you some comfort that he did tell you about it just before he passed away; however, the phone numbers on the policy are wrong, the address is no longer available and the company is no longer in business. You are now lost. Where do you go? Who do you call? What are your options?

According to law an insurance company cannot just close its doors and walk away. It must be taken over by another insurance company or by the government. Once in the hands of the government they determine the situation of the company and reassign it to another life insurance company.

The only problem with that is when company “A” takes over company “B’ they can be very picky. They do not have to take all policies and assets of a company can be distributed to not only one company but several. Also, the companies only take over active policies. For example, if you had a term policy with company ‘B’ and the insured person passed away during that term the beneficiaries would be eligible for the death benefit. However; if it was, for example, a 10 year term policy and it ran its course before company “A” bought out company “B”, company “A” has no obligation to take it over. So it would be lost.

It is so important to first of all, keep all your life insurance information on a central database so it can be claimed quickly. With all the mergers and takeovers these days you will be glad your beneficiaries will have a central database to search.

It is also good to know how to find out what company took over the old company. There are services that do this for you. Now it is very important to know, no one can guarantee the new company has possession of your life insurance policy, but they should guarantee the company name they give you has taken over the old one you are looking for.

Prevent lost life insurance and guarantee your beneficiaries will find it when the time comes. Claim it quickly so you will not be part of the merger/ takeover shuffle.