The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) released its annual market share report last week. It ranks US insurance companies by total sales. Some household names grew substantially. Other familiar brands lost big. Should Maine insurance consumers care? Should it affect your buying decision?
US Auto Insurance – a $230 Billion Industry
There’s plenty of competition for your insurance dollars. That’s why GEICO spends more than $1 billion a year on advertising, more than any other auto insurer. Was their big spending worth it? GEICO grew by more than $2 billion in premium last year. That’s more than twice the industry’s 2.5% growth in 2017.
Which Car Insurers Won and Lost in 2017?
Besides GEICO, Progressive grew by more than $1 billion in auto premium. USAA, Auto-owners and AAA rounded out the top 5. Allstate was the biggest loser. They shed almost $1 billion in auto insurance sales. Nationwide and Farmers weren’t far behind (ahead?). State Farm and Hartford rounded out the bottom 5, each losing almost $400 million of auto insurance premium.
Does it Matter Who Won?
Yes, and no. Growing companies can invest in new systems and even more advertising. Shrinking ones must cut costs. They might lay off claims adjusters or close offices to reduce expenses.
The winners and losers in the NAIC report have one thing in common. They’re all large insurers that write business countrywide. But many Maine consumers prefer to insure with smaller, regional insurers. Companies like Concord Group, Hanover and MMG Insurance have big market shares in Maine. New England insurers like these offer local claims and underwriting. They sell through local agents who provide advice and advocacy to their clients. They fly beneath the NAIC’s national radar.
When Too Much Growth is Bad
Growth is good. But if an insurer grows too fast, bad things can happen:
- Bad Service – an insurance company adding lots of new customers usually hires lots of sales people. If they don’t increase their claims and service staff by the same percentage, customer service can deteriorate. That can mean slower claim settlements, longer telephone hold times and inexperienced agents to give you advice.
- Rate Increases – There are 2 easy ways to sell more insurance in the short run: sell it cheaper than the next guy; or relax standards to let more business in. Then it catches up. Pretty soon, they realize they haven’t charged enough premium to pay claims and expenses. They have to increase everyone’s rates to pay claims.
Is the Best Insurance Company One You’ve Never Heard Of?
In Maine, many dependable, financially sound insurance companies don’t advertise. They have competitive rates. Their premiums don’t rise and fall dramatically. They settle claims fast and fairly using local adjusters.
How do you find these insurance companies? Contact a local independent agent like Noyes Hall & Allen in South Portland. We offer a choice from several top insurers and help you find the best fit and value. Want to get insurance quotes yourself? Get up to 5 Maine auto insurance quotes in 10 minutes from our web site. If you live outside southern Maine, look in your area for an independent agent like us. We’re independent and committed to you.