A Texas agents group said its latest survey has found thatstandard carriers are providing the state's consumers with betterhomeowners coverage and lower premiums on home and autoinsurance.

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The findings were announced by the Independent Insurance Agentsof Texas after survey of more than 1,800 member agencies.

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IIAT said nearly half of agents surveyed are reporting broaderhomeowners insurance coverage among standard carriers and a similarpercentage report lower average premium prices.

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Randy Reynolds, IIAT president, said, "The results show acontinuing trend that we discovered in a similar survey conductedamong members last year. Our results also show that auto policypremiums are down on average compared to a year ago. The resultstell me that competition in the marketplace is keen and good forthe consumer."

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According to IIAT, 60 percent of independent agencies surveyedreport that homeowners insurance coverage written by standardcarriers has improved in the last year. During 2005, some 65percent of agencies offered broader coverage than was availablebarely two years ago, the survey found.

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IIAT noted that broader coverage typically costs more, but for2005 the survey shows that average pricing for homeowners insuranceis lower than a year ago.

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The group said that, perhaps most significantly independentagents reported more companies wanting to write personal linesinsurance in Texas and more than 60 percent reported an increase inthe number of companies they could represent this year.

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Mr. Reynolds said, "The best way for consumers to take advantageof this insurance marketplace is to work with an independent agentthey trust to get the best deal," said Reynolds.

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Nearly 48 percent of agencies in the IIAT survey said homeownersinsurance prices have dropped in the last year by an average of 10percent among companies represented by independent agencies. Afourth of those agencies surveyed report no significant changes inpricing this year compared to last.

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IIAT with more than 1,800 agencies represents a network of some13,000 agents and their employees.

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