This past month we got hit pretty hard with insurance raises across the board. It’s around this time every year our flood insurance, home insurance, and car insurance comes up for renewal, since we moved to Houston around May 2013. Mrs. SSC nearly split her gourd when she opened the envelope with the new rates for our home insurance. They had jumped almost $700 for the exact same coverage! $700!! WTF, man?! A few days later we get the renewal for our car insurance. Again, I see Mrs. SSC open the envelope and her jaw hits the floor and steam shot from her ears. It had gone up as well, almost $250 for my car and $140 for Mrs. SSC. Immediately, we ask ourselves, “What the hell is going on? We didn’t get into an accident (I did in August, but I was rear-ended and no claim on my part). We haven’t made any home owner claims? Why would they both raise dramatically at the same time? Have we gotten into some new age bracket we didn’t know about?” We couldn’t come up with anything, so we decided to start shopping around and that reminded me of the last time we changed insurance.
When we relocated from Denver and Chicago, respectively, to Bum-squattle, LA we figured we’d both save a lot of coin on car insurance. I was coming from a policy written for an outside parking only, decent vehicle crime area, and commute of 25 miles. I figured my new policy would be cheaper because I had a garage, 5 mile commute, and did I mention car theft/break-ins in Bum-squattle were really low? Yet, my policy was going to double. DOUBLE! For the same coverage on an 8 year old vehicle. WTF man?!
Mrs. SSC was in the same boat. Her Chicago policy covered her for on-street parking, high vehicle theft/break-in rates in her area and her policy would also more than double. What we didn’t take into account was that Geico (our provider at the time) had just lost their ass with claims from hurricanes Katrina and Rita pummeling the Gulf Coast a few years earlier… However, we ended up saving a lot of coin from our previous policies just by switching to a provider that hadn’t gotten hit so badly with the hurricane claims. Big win there just by shopping around.
We ran into the same thing with home insurance. Most big providers wouldn’t even issue any new policies and it took Mrs. SSC days to find a local company that would issue a policy. (See above with insurance companies losing their ass on those two hurricanes.) We got laughed at from some companies once they looked up our new address. Literal laughing followed by, “My computer says we don’t issue policies for that area anymore…” Evidently this was a thing and even long-time residents would get dropped because the insurance companies would reach a maximum number of policies they’d gamble on for that area and just drop those unlucky enough to not make the cut. It was literally a year to year scramble to have home insurance for some people I worked with.
But, I digress…
After spending 1.5 hours online (15 minutes doesn’t quite cut it anymore, the commercials lie! lol) Mrs. SSC decided we should go back to Geico. Actually, she found they had a slightly better coverage policy offered for the same rate as our insurance prior to the price jump. So, effectively, $390/6 months saved. That’s almost $800/year! Way to go Mrs. SSC!
Ironically, for our biggest liability the house, the amount of time spent shopping for home insurance was only 15 minutes. There were ~10 emails back and forth to our home insurance agent, the first few were along the “Are you sure this is correct? WTF?! What caused the jump?”. So, maybe 5-6 productive emails, and ~5 minutes perusing the latest flood maps, since the links haven’t changed from when we bought the house. Our agent found us a policy with the exact same coverage but would save us $523/year and $430/year with flood insurance. That’s a savings of almost $1000/year! This is partly because we are not renewing flood insurance. Gasp!!! I know, I know, Gulf Coast, pseudo swamp land, what are we thinking? Well, our biggest risk is the tall pine tree getting blown into our house and letting rain/hail/creepy crawlies in during a storm. That’s covered on our new policy since water is coming from above and not upward into our home. These type of clarifications account for most of the other emails. Unless our neighbors pools catastrophically flood and beeline to our house and not out to the street, we should be good. Famous last words, right?
By getting our hand forced to review our insurances and coverage, we ended up saving about $1800/year. That’s pretty sweet, but if they hadn’t raised our rates, we wouldn’t have had a reason to shop around. It’s the complacency and comfort of not changing things I guess. In Denver, and even before then, I’d usually check for better car insurance rates once a year, but never got a better rate from anyone. That’s why I had been with Geico for 16 years before the last time I switched companies. 16 years! Whew, that’s a long time… I guess it just drives home the fact that if you pay attention even when you think you’re doing everything right “frugal-wise” you can still try and find some better deals just by investing a little bit of time. If you find you’re already getting the best deal, that’s an awesome feeling as well!
When was the last time you shopped around for different rates on insurance?
Have you found better deals by shopping around for other utilities?
Have you ever moved from a big city to Bum-squattle, USA?