Beware of “Teaser” Maine Homeowners Insurance Quotes


One of our employees received this solicitation from a competitor. It quotes a homeowners premium of $409 per year. That’s hundreds less than they pay now. How can that be? Is this “bait and switch”? Like most of these offers, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. The answers are in the fine print.

Example: 6 Cheap Homeowners Insurance Quote Tricks

Beware of "teaser" homeowners insurance quotes!
Beware of “teaser” homeowners insurance quotes! (click to enlarge)

1. Using the “Perfect Profile”

Every insurance company uses personal information to provide an accurate quote and policy for you. This may involve your insurance history, your insurance score (similar to a consumer credit score), your occupation and more. If you get a quote out of the blue without giving any of your information to anyone, you’re getting a generic quote, probably containing the absolute best rate, reserved for the theoretical human who fits the perfect profile. No one gets that rate.

2. Quoting On the Tax Assessor’s Value of Your Home

Tax assessments have nothing to do with insurance. Towns and cities revalue every several years to create a “just baseline” to compare properties for tax purposes. If it’s been years since the last revaluation, the figure is probably low. Assessed value has nothing to do with the cost to rebuild your home. Assessments are roughly based on market value, which is affected by location, condition, and acreage.

After a disaster, you want to have enough insurance to rebuild your home. Insurance companies want that, too. That’s why they require you to insure 100% of replacement cost. Usually, assessed value is far below your home’s replacement cost. For example, this home’s replacement cost is 20% more than the quoted amount. If they called for quote, the insurer would take information about their home, calculates its replacement cost, and bump the amount by 20%. That would increase the price.

This insurance company knows all of that, but chooses to ignore it. The lower amount means a cheaper quote. It’s appealing – until you think about it.

3. Inflating Your Insurance Score                         superior-credit-quote

As explained above, insurance companies use scoring to price your insurance. The higher your credit score, the lower your insurance price. This quote assumes that you’re in the top tier of insurance scores. Even people with excellent credit scores may not make the “superior credit” status. So, when you respond to the solicitation, your price probably goes up.

4. Presuming Your Home Was Just Built

This home was built in 1972. The tax assessor’s document clearly says that. Why would the insurance company quote it as if it was new? Because there’s a “new home discount”. That makes the rate lower, until you call in. Oops, no discount for you.

5. Assuming You Move All Your Insurancemultipolicy-quote

It’s no secret that you can get a lower price with most companies by bundling auto and property insurance. You should absolutely talk to your agent about bundling to see if it makes sense for you. It doesn’t always. What if this company’s car insurance rates are terrible? What if you don’t meet their underwriting requirements? What if…?

Without a package discount, this quote could be 20% higher – or more. And, think about it: if this insurance company uses shady quoting tactics on your home insurance, do you really want to trust them will ALL of your insurance?

6. Have You Really Had No Claims in 5 Years?

Maybe that’s true, maybe not. Five years is a long time. Many people forget that they’ve had claims. You could think it’s true, until the insurance company runs their reports. That plumbing leak? The water backup in the basement? Oh yeah. Those count. And, they can change this quote considerably.

Looking for a Real Maine Homeowners Insurance Quote?

If you are looking for homeowners, condo or renters insurance in Maine, and want a thorough review and a realistic proposal for your coverage, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent. We’re independent, so we offer a choice of preferred insurers in Maine. Prefer to start online?  Get up to 6 Maine homeowners insurance quotes in 10 minutes on our web site. If that’s as far as you want to go, we won’t hound you later. But, we’re happy to answer your Maine home insurance questions.

When a Great Car Insurance Quote Isn’t

We all see them. Those auto insurance solicitations in the mail, online or on TV. Some of them are really funny. Some promise lots of savings. How can you tell if they’re real or not?

One of our clients shared this mail solicitation from an insurance company looking to quote their auto insurance. The quote looked to be about half what they are paying now. After we reviewed it with him, the client was happy to stay with their current insurer. Here’s some of what we pointed out to them.

We’ve blanked out the information about the other company on the letter below. We’re not out to embarrass anyone. But, we share it so that you can look critically at the solicitations you receive. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

6 Reasons Why This “Good Deal” Isn’t. 

click on the image to enlarge it

1. You are “Pre-approved”

Read closely. It doesn’t say that you’re approved for the rate they’ve quoted. In fact, unless you’re a 45-year-old married man who drives a 2014 Subaru Impreza (which the recipient was not), and have very good credit, your quote could be a lot different. What you’re approved for is to receive this letter. Don’t you feel lucky?

2. “Average $446 per Year Savings”

Notice that “7 out of 10 drivers who switched saved money – an average of $446 per year”. A few questions leap to mind:

  • How many drivers are we talking about? Did 10 people switch, or 10,000? Who knows.
  • How many drivers didn’t switch? If 95% of people who went through the process didn’t change, is it worth responding to this flyer for a 5% chance of success?
  • Where do these drivers live? Ahh, the small print on the back says this is “national consumer data”. That makes a difference. Maine has the lowest auto premiums in the country, averaging $902. Per year. No insurance company is so consistently cheap that they save most people 50% on their car insurance. Even if this company does save you money, it’s unlikely to be anywhere near $446. It sounds good in the letter, though.
  • What about the 3 out of 10 who spent MORE money after signing on with this insurance company? The story doesn’t say. That’s probably not the outcome they wanted when they started the process, though.

3. $50,000 Per Person Bodily Injury?

Bodily injury liability insurance pays medical bills and pain & suffering for people you may hurt in an auto accident. It’s the only thing protecting your net worth from a lawsuit. $50,000 is the absolute minimum allowed in Maine. It’s also a lot less than the net worth of most 45-year-old married men driving 2014 Subarus. Did we mention that Maine’s Wrongful Death Statute allows up to $1,000,000 per person – 20X the limit this letter quotes?

Quoting $50,000 limits is a disservice to most Maine consumers. It makes the price look good, though. Maybe if you responded, the agent would up-sell you to higher limits (at a higher price). Or, maybe they’d just sell you the $50,000. Either way, you lose.

Related: How Much Liability Insurance Should You Buy? (Calculator)

4. $50,000 Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

This one’s arguably even worse. Uninsured Motorist is supposed to protect YOU and your family and passengers if you’re injured by someone who has little or no insurance. It pays the difference between the at-fault driver’s inadequate insurance limit and your UM limit. If you buy this quote, and are hit by someone with $50,000 liability coverage (which we’ve already determined is very low),  this policy provides NO UM coverage at all. But at least the price for “no insurance” was lower 7 out of 10 times.

5. Who Can Rent a Car for $20 a Day?

We don’t know of any national rental firm that charges less than $30 a day in Portland, Maine. And that’s for a compact car at the insurance company’s corporate rate. Granted, $20 is better than $0, so this is probably better than the Uninsured Motorist Coverage above.

6. Why a Six Month Policy?

Some insurers prefer to write a 6 month policy instead of annual, because:

  • They can adjust rates more frequently. If they file a rate change, the new rate takes effect after 6 months, not 12.
  • They can charge you for an accident sooner. Same logic applies. The surcharge is applied at renewal, which is 6 months instead of 12.
  • The rates look lower. In fact our client first thought this quote was half the price he was paying now. Turns out, because he has an annual policy, the price was almost the same. And, his current coverage was WAY better.

Related: What to Expect from Maine Auto Insurance Rates in 2017

There’s A Better Way to Shop for Maine Auto Insurance

If you are looking for a second opinion on your Greater Portland Maine car insurance, contact Noyes Hall & Allen in South Portland. We’re independent. That means we offer the choice of 9 preferred insurance companies. We’ll also take time to customize our proposal to YOUR needs, not some fictitious Impreza-driving-45-year-old married-male. We’ll recommend coverage for you and tell you why. You can choose whether or not it’s a good deal for you.

If you’re a self-service type, you can get up to 7 Maine car insurance quotes in 10 minutes on our web site. Don’t worry: if you don’t see anything that that rocks your world, we won’t hound you afterwards. But we’re always happy to answer any questions you have during the process.


Why do my car insurance rates keep going up-How much liability insurance should buy

Maine Auto Insurance: What to Expect in 2017


Last Thursday, we met with executives from 7 different insurance companies, one after the other. Every December, we invite our key company partners to review the year and plan for the next.

It’s a full day spent discussing trends, challenges and opportunities in the insurance industry. We learn a lot from the executives’ lofty perspective. They learn just as much from our “front line” reports. By the end of the day, trends usually emerge.

This year, increasing frequency and cost of auto claims concerns almost every executive. Their companies are paying claims faster than they’re collecting premiums. They can’t afford to do that for long. We haven’t seen this trend yet in our agency’s fairly small sample of Maine’s drivers. But it’s clear: we should prepare for rising auto insurance rates in the next few years.

Four Reasons to Expect Higher Auto Insurance Rates in 2017

  1. Fierce Competition Depressed Car Insurance Rates

The Great Recession put extreme pressure on many household budgets. Many insurers focused their advertising message on reducing prices. GEICO spent more than $1 billion a year on advertising. State Farm spent about $800 million. This extreme competition caused prices to remain level for years. Total industry premiums remained flat from 2006 to 2009.

2. People Are Driving Again

While the economy was slow, driving decreased. Americans drove fewer miles 3 out of 4 years from 2008 to 2011, due to:

  • higher gas prices
  • higher unemployment
  • many younger people choosing to delay getting licensed

As the economy improved and gas prices dropped, Americans drove more. We now drive about 3.15 trillion miles per year, an increase of about 150 million miles since 2013.

3. Distracted Driving is a Big Bummer

Several execs shared their front-line adjusters’ stories about distracted driver crashes. Maine adjusters report that many claims involve drivers using mobile devices to text, talk or use social media. Keep in mind that all three are illegal in Maine.

National data reinforces these stories. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 431,000 people injured in distracted driving accidents in 2014, the latest year available. More than 3,000 people were killed. And that was 2 years before Pokemon Go.

4. Crashes Are On the Rise

With the increases in mileage driven and distracted driving, you might expect crash rates to spike. They have. Personal auto insurance claims in the U.S. increased 37.1% between 2006 and 2015. Meanwhile, auto insurance premiums increased 20.9%.

Higher speed limits, increased road congestion and distracted driving seem to be causing increased crash activity. A December 1 Portland Press Herald article cited a 32% increase in accidents on Route 295 north of Portland between 2013 and 2015.

What You Can Do to Control Auto Insurance Expenses

  • Shop Around – Compare prices every 3-5 years, or if your rates change significantly. Independent agencies like Noyes Hall & Allen represent several insurers. We can compare coverage and prices for you, without changing agents.
  • Bundle Property & Auto Insurance – Many insurers discount your auto policy if they insure your home, condo or apartment, too.
  • Think About Dropping Physical Damage Coverage – One rule of thumb is: if you’re spending more than 10% of the book value of your car on your comprehensive and collision insurance, consider dropping or adjusting your coverage.

    Related: When Should I Drop Collision Coverage?

  • Consider Usage-Based Insurance – UBI involves installing a telematics device in your vehicle. This allows your insurer to track your mileage and driving behavior. Many insurers offer big discounts if you allow them to customize your premium to your driving habits.

    Related: Is Progressive Snapshot Right for You? 5 Questions to Ask

  • Protect Your Credit Score – Almost every insurer uses an “insurance score” to price your insurance. These scores are closely related to your credit score. The better your credit score, the lower your auto insurance rate.


More Accidents, Larger Claims Drive Costs Higher, Insurance Information Institute, October 2016 (.pdf)

Consumer Information, Maine Bureau of Insurance

Get Free Maine Auto Insurance Quotes in 10 Minutes, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance