Insurance costs, ideally, are factored into your normal budget. But when these rates increase, it can sometimes be cause for alarm, especially if the hike was unexpected. There might be some action steps you can take to help get costs back down.
A Florida independent insurance agent can help advise you on how to best protect yourself against insurance rate increases. But to start, we've got a few tips of our own on what to do if your Florida insurance rates went up.
What to Do if Your Florida Insurance Rates Increase
The first step is to not panic. No matter if you're looking at your home insurance, auto insurance, or business insurance, your rates are bound to increase quite a few times over the life of the policy. Rates can go up because of policy changes, increased risk factors, or just because the insurance company needs to stay competitive.
You'll be notified by your insurance company via letter before an increase takes place, which can help you prepare for it. You can also use this as an opportunity to change your policy if it'll meet your needs better that way. These letters sent out by insurance companies often detail why your rates are increasing, the effective date, and how much of a cost hike it'll be.
Understand Why Your Rates Increased
In reality, your insurance rates could have gone up for several different reasons. Understanding them can help you remain calm and prepare for these potential changes in the future.
Common reasons for insurance rate increases in Florida:
- Discounts have expired: You might've received a new customer discount from your insurer that wears off after a couple of years, leaving you with higher rates, or you might've had a child at home that qualified for a good student discount only temporarily. It's also possible you changed insurers for one of your coverages and no longer qualify for the bundling discount on another.
- Changes to an insured item: You might've added extra structures to your property, made upgrades to your vehicle that increased its value, removed a security system from your home, etc. All of these changes can lead to rate increases because the insurance company is now assuming more risk for your property, whether it's your home, car, etc.
- Industry price increase: The insurance industry has its own governing bodies, and these can create price increases in certain areas. These rate increases tend to happen by state. For example, Texas experienced car insurance rate hikes of up to 20% from some insurers this year. While these increases can happen at any time, they tend to shift from year to year.
- Claims history: If you've filed even one claim on any of your policies, you can often expect your premiums to increase as a result. Whether the claim was made by you or anyone else on your policy, it can be tough to avoid premium hikes afterward. The nature of your claim, in extreme cases, can also lead to a full cancellation of coverage by your insurance company.
Understanding that several factors can lead to insurance premium increases can help you not take premium hikes personally when they happen to you. Your Florida independent insurance agent is also always there for you if this occurs.
Take Action: What Can You Do?
The first step is to speak with your Florida independent insurance agent right away. They can help you further understand why your insurance rates increased if your insurer didn't properly explain them already. They can also advise on appropriate courses of action going forward.
It's possible to appeal a rate increase with your insurer, and your independent insurance agent can assist you with this process. If you're not able to successfully appeal the increase, your agent can help you find a different policy from a company in their network, as well as discounts you qualify for. As a last resort, your agent can simply help you understand the reasons why your rates increased.
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Limit Future Rate Increases
According to insurance expert Paul Martin, the best way to prevent your insurance rates from increasing is to not file any claims if you can help it. Your homeowners insurance, however, is going to increase over time if the value of your property increases as well. He also recommends shopping around for new coverage every few years to help keep your prices as low as possible.
You can also help prevent future rate increases by understanding what factors play into insurance pricing in the first place. After you've become familiar with these, you can use them to your advantage to help keep your rates steady as they are. Stay in close contact with your independent insurance agent and they’ll help you identify any possible incoming problems.
How Are Insurance Rates Created?
As previously mentioned, many different factors go into determining your insurance rates. These vary depending on the type of policy in question, as well. But in general, here are 10 policy rating factors:
- Driving records: Especially with auto insurance, your driving records and especially any prior accidents or traffic violations can impact your insurance rates for up to five years.
- Your location: Location can impact all kinds of insurance rates, including home insurance due to an area's crime rates, property values, flood risk, etc.
- Your experience: With car insurance, for example, the amount of experience you have can correlate to your risk factor, meaning more experience can lead to lower rates.
- Household size: Your home insurance premiums partially depend on how many people live at your residence and are listed on the policy.
- Previous claims: Prior claims history can cause any type of policy's rates to increase.
- Business type: With business insurance, your company's niche can impact your premiums because certain businesses carry higher risk factors, such as a large paper manufacturing company vs. a small smoothie joint.
- Number of employees: How many employees your business has, as well as their job duties, etc., will impact the cost of business insurance rates.
- Credit score: Insurance companies often tie credit usage to your personal risk factor to them, so a lower credit score can mean higher premiums for many types of coverage, including auto insurance.
- Property value: No matter the kind of property you're insuring, whether it be a car, business office, or home, the higher your property's value, the more it'll cost to protect it with insurance.
- Safety/security features: Again, no matter the type of property in question, if it's got safety or security features like burglar alarms, gates, motion-censored lights, etc., you can often reduce your premiums.
Your Florida independent insurance agent can help review these factors and many others that affect insurance premium rates with you and further explain how they apply to your unique situation.
How Can I Get Insurance Discounts?
Paul Martin advises that you should start by asking your independent insurance agent about bundling discounts. These are offered when you buy more than one type of coverage through the same insurance company and can save you up to 20% on your premiums.
Here are some other common insurance discounts to ask your independent insurance agent about:
- Loyalty discounts: Many insurance companies offer discounts to folks who stay with them for a certain number of years.
- Claims-free discount: No matter the coverage, you can expect to get discounts after a set amount of time with no claims filed.
- Safety course discount: For auto insurance, you can receive a discount for completing a state-approved defensive driving course. Similarly, businesses can complete approved safety courses for things like training their employees to save on business insurance.
- Upgraded property discount: If you make upgrades to your home's roof or plumbing or electrical systems, making the property less of a risk overall, you can often qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance.
You shouldn't ever have to go searching for discounts on your own, because your Florida independent insurance agent knows to look out for them for you. With a little bit of teamwork, the two of you can find a way to keep you saving as much money as possible on your coverage, no matter the category.
Why Choose a Florida Independent Insurance Agent?
Florida independent insurance agents simplify the process by shopping and comparing insurance quotes for you. Not only that, but they’ll also cut through the jargon and clarify the fine print so you'll know exactly what you’re getting.
Florida independent insurance agents also have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best insurance coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin
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