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Wildfires spark up home insurance rates

September 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The three biggest insurance companies are planning to hike their insurance premiums, and the California wildfires are partly to blame. But how much are the rates going up and are there ways to save? First off, the rate hikes are not due to the fires we're having now, and secondly the new rates aren't as bad as they seem. But even so, there are some ways to cut your homeowner's insurance costs.

Dozens of homes burned to the ground and nearly everything in them. Thousands of other homes were threatened. Wildfires are a way of life in parched, dry California.

Hopefully insurance will help these homeowners get their lives back in order, but at what cost?

Some insurance companies have been approved for rate increases because of past wildfires.

State Farm will be raising rates 6.9 percent. Farmers has been approved for a 4.1 percent hike. And Allstate's request for a 6.9 percent increase is pending.

However, those increases aren't as bad as it looks.

"The small rate hikes that are pending, which are in the single digit range, follow several years of double digit rate decreases," says Candysse Miller from Insurance Information Network.

In fact, we're paying less today than in 2003. Even so, a rate hike is a rate hike, and that's why it's important to find ways to save.

For example, you might find that you're over-insured, which is costing you more. So do a home inventory of your home and its contents.

"It gives you a list of 'here's what I actually need to insure, here's the size of my home, here's what my contents add up to'", explains Miller. "Take it to an agent and say 'this is what I have to insure.'"

Another way to save is to go with an insurance company that is on the internet, or does business by phone. Their expenses are much less and they pass that on to the consumer. But do so only if you're comfortable not talking to a live person.

And finally, check to see if your automobile insurance is with the same company as your homeowner's insurance. Combining the two can kick in some substantial discounts.

"When you go and shop your insurance policy, don't just shop one policy. Consider going to an agent and saying 'Okay here's my homeowner policy, here's my auto insurance policy,' and if you have an umbrella policy, put that in there too and say, 'give me your best quote,'" says Miller.

Again, to save on your homeowner's insurance, do a home inventory, shop the internet, and combine different insurance policies.

To check and see if an insurance company is raising or lowering its rates and if you want to take a look at their complaint record, follow the link below or call them at 1-800-927-HELP or 1-800 927 4357.

  • Link:  Department of Insurance website
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