Friday, June 24, 2011

United Policyholders: Tip of the Month

June 2011

Overwhelmed and Underinsured

Those two words describe the people in Missouri, Alabama and Arizona whose homes were recently wiped out. The fact is, about 2/3 of the homes in the United States are underinsured.1 UP can help you be in the third that are not. You probably think you're already paying plenty for insurance. We couldn't agree more. But why pay all that money and still come up short?

What to do?

- Pull out your policy and calculate how much your home ("dwelling") is insured for per square foot (psf). The cost to rebuild your home will depend on its style, age and location. The cost of building most homes ranges from $150-$400 psf, so if yours is below that range, it may be underinsured.

- Call your agent or insurance company and tell them you want to make sure your dwelling is insured for full replacement value. Ask if they will send an independent estimator to your home, free of charge. Some companies will. Ask how you can adjust your policy limits without spending more. A good agent will help you do this. Take good notes on the conversations and keep them in a safe place. Consider raising your deducible and trimming non-essential coverage to lower your premium.

- Spend $7 to get a second opinion from an online home replacement cost estimator like HMFacts. Take time to input detailed information about your home.

You'll find useful tips on Picking a good insurance agent or broker, Shop Smart: Tips for Insuring Your Home, and much more at Please donate to support our work in tornado and wildfire areas.

1.United Policyholders post-disaster survey results are consistent with insurance industry sources that estimate more than 60% of American homes are underinsured.

To read past Tips of the Month, click here. To suggest a future Tip of the Month, click here to submit your idea.

If you value UP's work,
please support us.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Insurance Commisioner Jones Announces Substantial Decrease in Homeowners Insurance Rates by USAA

Approximately 200,000 policyholders in California affected

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced a substantial decrease in homeowner insurance rates by USAA. The recent approval of the company's rate filing reduces rates for most of its California policyholders by an average of 14.9 percent.

"Today, I am pleased to announce that my department has approved a substantial homeowners rate reduction by USAA," said Commissioner Jones. "This is good news for the approximately 200,000 USAA policyholders, most of whom will receive a rate reduction as a result. Given the current economic conditions, we are elated to be able to help consumers keep more of their hard earned money and benefit from lower insurance premiums."

"USAA is committed to offering competitive prices to our members - America's military families," said Alice Gannon, SVP and Chief Actuary, USAA Property & Casualty Insurance Group. "As a result of our favorable trends in claims costs and our ability to keep our expenses among the lowest in the industry, we're pleased to be able to reduce rates for most of our California members."

"We are pleased that USAA is implementing this $40 million rate decrease, which will provide savings to hundreds of thousands of California homeowners," said Todd M. Foreman, a Consumer Watchdog staff attorney who worked with the Department and USAA on this rate reduction. "Voters enacted Proposition 103, and gave themselves a voice in the regulatory process to ensure this kind of savings."

Across the state, the decrease translates to an average of $185 per home annually. The rate decrease will become effective November 30, 2011. USAA members will begin receiving their policy renewal packets 60-days prior to renewal starting on September 30, 2011.

The last rate change for USAA's California policyholders was in 2006, when rates were reduced by 22.1 percent. USAA insures approximately 200,000 homeowners in California and is the 6th largest homeowners and 7th largest auto insurer in the state.

USAA's 14.9 percent rate reduction is the most recent rate decrease approved by the California Department of Insurance.

Since taking office earlier this year, Commissioner Jones has already approved homeowners and automobile premium rate reductions by the following companies:
  • First National Insurance Company of America reduced homeowner rates 2.24 percent
  • Grange Insurance Association reduced homeowner rates 6.1 percent
  • Topa Insurance Company reduced auto rates 9.71 percent
  • Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., LTD. reduced auto rates 4.65 percent
  • Personal Express Insurance Company reduced auto rates 6.86 percent
These rate reductions have saved California consumers millions of dollars annually in premiums.

Please visit the Department of Insurance Web site at Non media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Callers from out of state, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.