NU Online News Service, March 21, 3:05 p.m. EDT
The Texas Department of Insurance has just approved a homeowners-insurance-rate hike for Allstate Insurance of 5.7 percent and 9.8 percent for its companies.
Allstate Texas Lloyds had asked for a 5.7 percent average statewide increase. Allstate Fire & Casualty Insurance Co. sought approval for a 9.8 percent rate average hike.
Allstate had been using the new rates since December 2011 since Texas is a file-and-use state.
The Texas Department of Insurance put out a report saying that it had completed its review of the filings and has found them satisfactory. Jerry Hagins, TDI spokesperson, says the department conducted an actuarial review over a period of several weeks to make sure that the new rate was not excessive, not unfairly discriminatory, and that it was adequate.
“The rate filing was probably a couple of hundreds of pages in length itself, full of supporting data,” Hagins says. He directs homeowners to HelpInsure.com, a free state-run database where consumers may compare the rates of all carriers in their area.
Consumer groups are suspicious of the rate-hike approval. According to Alex Winslow, executive director of consumer group Texas Watch, “Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman hasn’t met a rate increase she didn’t like.”
Texas Watch reported that the State Integrity Project gave the TDI an “F” on its corruption scorecard, and Winslow says Allstate’s increases, which run into the double digits, have madeTexasrates, already the highest in the nation, unaffordable for fixed-income homeowners.
Allstate spokesperson Kristen Beaman maintains that Texas weather has been increasingly severe since at least the 2008-2009 storm season, which accounted for almost a quarter of catastrophe losses within the U.S, with hail and windstorms causing the most damage. Natural disasters inTexas, she says, “are not a matter of if, but when.”
She says that Allstate agents, who service 600,000 policyholders in the state, reach out personally to clients to help them mitigate costs by practicing damage control.
Texas Watch maintains that because the 176-year-old state is infamous for its erratic weather, “hailstorms, tornados and wildfires should be factored into existing rates.”