How to shop for good deals on insurance in Maine

CONSUMER FORUM

Posted March 07, 2016, at 12:31 p.m.

Many state-by-state rankings put Maine at or near the bottom. A new report by insurance commissioners across the country tells a different story.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or NAIC, ranks Maine third in terms of lowest average auto insurance premiums. The Pine Tree State achieved that ranking for the third straight year.

Maine’s third-in-the-nation ranking was no surprise to Eric Cioppa, the state’s insurance superintendent.

“The auto insurance market in Maine is healthy and competitive, which contributes to Maine’s consistently low average auto premiums,” Cioppa said in a statement last week.

“Maine’s ranking is especially noteworthy, given Maine’s coverage requirements, which exceed those in most other states,” he added.

The report noted that Maine tied Massachusetts for the lowest percentage of uninsured motorists, 4.5 percent.

Maine was ranked 10th in the nation in terms of lowest average homeowner insurance premiums. The state’s average premiums also were the lowest in New England.

The report was based on insurance rates in 2013, the latest year such figures are available. In releasing the rankings, NAIC noted that homeowner premiums rose an average of six percent nationwide. The group cited exposure to catastrophes, home values and construction costs for the rise.

The report includes a lot of data, but it doesn’t have all the answers. The U.S. was hit with an unusual number of hurricanes from 2004 to 2008; as builders made repairs, a shortage of drywall resulted. A number of consumers who had drywall from China installed began seeing problems, on average, a couple of years after installation.

The NAIC report offers no predictions about the impact of shoddy drywall on homeowner rates, stating “it is too early to tell” whether homeowners’ premiums will be affected.

Opinions abound about insurance companies. Some of the most objective reviews are likely found in the pages of Consumer Reports.

Homeowners insurance reviews can be found at consumerreports.org/cro/homeowners-insurance.htm.

CR’s auto insurance buying guide at consumerreports.org/cro/car-insurance/buying-guide.htm begins with results of a survey, which showed only 10 percent of the magazine’s subscribers who compared premiums found they would save money by switching companies.

More information on the NAIC report is available at the organization’s website at naic.org.

Maine consumers and business owners who have questions about auto, home, business or other types of insurance are encouraged to call the Bureau of Insurance at 1-800-300-5000 or sending a message to Insurance.PFR@Maine.gov.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit https://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

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