Bundle Insurance Coverages, Or Else
According to a recent article in The Insurance Journal, a major insurance company announced plans to drop their North Carolina homeowners insurance clients who didn’t bundle, or combine, their automobile insurance policy with the same company. As many as 45,000 homeowners insurance customers were due to be non-renewed unless they bundled insurance coverages for their home and automobile insurance from this carrier by December 15, 2011.
The company doesn’t plan to simply let these former policyholders fend for themselves. They’ve already made arrangements with other companies to provide these former policyholders with coverage.
Let’s look at the positives of bundling insurance coverages.
- Bundling insurance coverages saves money. When you place one or more policies with the same company, you can qualify for what’s known as a multi-policy discount. This discount, depending on the company, can range from 5% to 15% on each policy you have with the same company.
- Bundling makes it easier to keep up with all your coverages. Now you won’t have to call two (2) or more agent or servicing companies to stay on top of your insurance.
- Purchasing Umbrella Insurance. Adding an Umbrella Liability policy to your insurance portfolio is a cost-effective method of protecting your property from loss in case of a liability claim against you. To qualify to buy this coverage, many companies now require you to have both your auto and homeowners coverage with them. One reason for this is to guarantee the insured continually carries certain minimum personal liability amounts on each policy. And, the company knows immediately if either policy lapses, which could invalidate the umbrella policy coverage.
While there are positives, this “Forced-Bundling,” (sounds a bit like force-placed homeowners insurance doesn’t it?) does raise several critical questions.
- What is their financial relationship with these other companies? Are they truly separate entities, or will they be some type of wholly owned subsidiary?
- How will this company compensate its agents for the loss of income they stand to face? Imagine an agent losing 50 – 250 clients in one fell swoop. This will create a huge loss of income during difficult economic times.
- Will they allow their agents to become licensed agents for these other insurance companies, or will that ability only be offered to preferred agencies? Even if they allow all of their agents to seek agency contracts with the new companies, will those companies only offer agency contracts to the best and/or largest agencies?
- How will these same agents deal with the loss of community confidence and good will? People tend not to like being dictated to, and the easiest person to whom they can voice their displeasure is their local agent. And, they’ll vote with their feet, wallets and pocketbooks.
- How does the underwriting and claims handling ability of the new companies compare with that of the original company?
- What if you’re paying less for your automobile insurance at another company, even while taking the multi-policy discount into effect? Why should you be forced to pay more than what you’re paying now with another carrier?
- Let’s suppose you have terrible credit and/or a lousy driving record. You may not even meet the basic underwriting criteria for any of this company’s auto insurance companies. What will happen then?
This situation will anger many, and that’s understandable. One of my clients claimed it was akin to being held up at gunpoint in a dark alley with the criminal telling you, “You’d better give me some money or I’m going to shoot you.”
And just your luck, you’re wearing your jogging shorts.
The ones without the pockets.
I’ll let you know how this works out for all parties concerned.