8th May 2012

Welcome To The Homeowners Insurance Racket

posted in homeowners-insurance |

Anyone who has owned a home has undoubtedly in the past scratched their head in disbelief as to why their homeowner’s insurance premium always seems to increase when policy renewal time comes around. You may also think that your homeowners insurance agent is in your corner when you find yourself in this predicament.

Let’s get one thing straight to start: Your insurance agent does not work for you. They work for themselves and their business which is selling insurance. I have heard more lines of bovine excrement from insurance agents than I can shake a stick at (except, of course, maybe from real estate agents.)

Ok, now that we have that straight…I have a friend who recently bought a single-family home and paid cash for it (not hard in today’s real estate market.) My friend, of course wanted to insure the property against fire, weather and the ever looming threat of a liability (slip and fall) lawsuit. When he received the proposal for the new insurance policy, the replacement cost of the property was roughly double what it would actually cost to rebuild the property from the ground up.

Insurance racketWhen he inquired with the insurance agent as to why the agent “passed the buck” saying that  they use a company who provides a “replacement cost estimator” calculation based on local construction costs and materials. The insurance agent also mentioned that there is nothing they could do to reduce that amount. For the uninitiated, the replacement cost of a building is usually an amount the whole policy premium is based on. Most of the premium line item amounts are simply a percentage of the replacement cost. So by keeping that amount high (and increasing it every year), the insurance agent and insurance provider is assured of higher and higher premiums.

I should also mentioned that the agent handed my friend a line of garbage which included the fact that she, the insurance agent, was “in the same boat” and there was nothing she could do about it either, as if that was any consolation. When my friend looked into the company providing the “replacement cost estimator” the company’s main selling point was to “increase the premiums” charged by the insurance agency and “insure a more stable cash flow” for the business. That nugget was stated right on their web site, not hidden in the fine print of a contract. By the way consumers have no choice in the matter either. As in, they can’t demand that the insurance agent use a different company’s “replacement cost estimator.”

Not wanting to play that game, my friend asked the agent about increasing the “hurricane deductible” (windstorm coverage) as a way to reduce the premium. In Florida, the “windstorm portion” of a homeowners insurance policy is a large part of the premium. By doubling the windstorm deductible, the agent was able to reduce the premium by only by about 10%. Typically, in Florida anyway, the windstorm insurance will be used to replace your roof if it’s damaged in a storm. Well, by reducing the policy premium by 10%, my friend’s windstorm deductible was double what it would cost to replace the entire roof.

In the end, my friend opted for a liability only policy and decided to “self insure” the property itself thereby reducing his premium by 75%. Now the reason I call this a “racket” is because my friend owned this property outright, as in, without a mortgage. If he had a mortgage, he would have had no choice BUT to buy full insurance coverage thereby perpetuating this huge money suck. Just lovely, isn’t it?

There are currently 3 responses to “Welcome To The Homeowners Insurance Racket”

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  1. 1 On July 2nd, 2012, Carlie said:

    I noticed in this post that your friend opted for a liability only policy. Any suggestions as to what liability limit is appropriate? My hubby and I just purchased our first rental property and would like to have some slip & fall coverage but don’t have a clue how much would be right (and we’re not too fond of trusting a sales agent to suggest an amount for us).

    P.S. I’m really enjoying your blog.

  2. 2 On July 5th, 2012, Steve Frost said:

    A very interesting article, things are pretty much the same here in the UK with premiums climbing and actual cover dropping.

    Thanks for highlighting this, I look forward to reading the rest of your posts


  3. 3 On July 14th, 2012, Al ciampi said:

    You can ask for agreed value coverage. My home is insured for far less than so called replacement costs that State Farm tried to sell me. I know that should my home become a total loss that the agreed value will cover rebuilding it. Remember your land will still be there. If you have a mortgage still on your home be sure to get agreed value plus 20% which should cover any downpayment that might be required to obtain a new loan.

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