Maine insurance rates are following national trends. Home and auto rates are up as insurers try to catch up with rising claim costs and construction values. Portland Maine area insurance buyers saw almost a 10% price increase in the 1st quarter of 2023. Even so, Maine insurance rates remain among the lowest in the US.
Maine Insurance Rates – Auto – January to March 2023
Between January and March 2023, Portland Maine area auto insurance rates jumped 6.8% on average at renewal, up from 3.7% last September. The average annual auto insurance policy in Cumberland County costs $1341 per year.
Insurers reported higher than expected losses as people drove more after COVID reductions. Body shops and mechanical repair shops charged higher prices due to supply chain and labor shortages. Used auto prices spiked during COVID and settled above pre-pandemic levels. Finally, auto rentals are much more expensive, and needed longer due to body shop delays. All of these factors, along with medical cost increases, put strong upward pressure on auto insurance rates in 1Q 2023.
Maine Insurance Rates – Home – January to March 2023
Maine home insurance rates increased even faster than auto insurance. The average home insurance premium was 10.9% higher than a year ago. That’s up from 9.6% in September. And we haven’t seen the end yet.
Many of the same inflationary pressures pushed home prices higher. Building materials and labor costs spiked dramatically during COVID and haven’t settled completely back. It’s been difficult and expensive to find contractors. That delays repairs and increases claim costs.
But reinsurance costs are probably the biggest driver of property insurance rates. Reinsurance is insurance for insurance companies. It protects them against catastrophic losses from natural disasters like wildfires, blizzards, ice storms, hurricanes and tornadoes. Many insurance companies saw their reinsurance rates jump 30-50% this year. Insurance companies must pass on the cost of reinsurance to their customers.
Should I buy rental car insurance? As a Maine insurance agency, that’s one of our most common auto insurance questions. The answer is a bit complicated. It depends on your risk tolerance, too.
Before we start, 2 important warnings:
This advice applies to Maine insurance policies only. Auto policies vary by state. Check with your insurance company about your own policy.
Auto rental contracts differ. Read yours carefully to find out what you’re responsible for.
OK. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to buy rental car insurance.
What Kind of Vehicle Are You Renting, and Why?
If you’re renting anything but a car, passenger van, SUV or pickup, buy the insurance from the rental car agency. Your Maine personal auto policy will not cover you properly. Likewise, if you’re renting a vehicle for business use, or in a business name, buy insurance from the rental car company.
Where Are You Renting?
U.S. auto policies only cover you in the U.S., its possessions and territories, and Canada. If you’re renting anywhere else, buy rental car insurance from the rental company.
What is Your Risk?
You face four types of risk when you rent a vehicle: liability, collision, injury and lost income for the rental company. Let’s look at the types of coverage that the car rental companies offer.
Rental Car Insurance – Liability
If you are at fault in a crash, you’re liable for any damage or injury you cause. Rental car companies sell Liability Damage Waiver insurance. That means they take responsibility for your action, provided you were operating with in the terms of your rental contract.
Maine auto insurance policies extend your liability protection to rental cars. Therefore, it’s not usually necessary to purchase Liability Damage Waiver from the rental car agency. You usually already have coverage under your own insurance. An exception might be if you have purchased very low liability limits.
Rental Car Insurance – Collision
If you crash a rental car, you’re responsible for the cost to fix it. If it’s stolen while you rent it. You’re responsible to replace it. Car rental companies sell “Collision Damage Waivers” (CDW) to remove that risk. This waiver is not insurance. It’s simply a promise from the rental car agency that they won’t make pay to repair or replace it. CDW is also expensive: often $10 to $30 per day.
Some states also allow the rental car company to claim diminished value. That’s the difference between the car’s value before the crash and after it’s fixed. Maine auto insurance policies are not required to cover diminished value.This is a gap, and a risk that you should think about before declining CDW.
Rental car company insurance usually doesn’t cover injuries to people in your vehicle. Your Maine auto insurance policy provides medical payments coverage, which is likely a small amount. Regular medical insurance (if any) takes over from there. Otherwise, your medical bills for crash injuries must be paid out of pocket.
Lost Income to Rental Car Company
If you damage a rental car, the rental company has to pull it from the fleet until it’s repaired. That means they lose income. And that’s your responsibility.
Rental car companies sell Loss Damage Waivers (LDW). Similar to the CDW, these are not insurance. They transfer the risk of the lost income from you to the rental company. These cost about as much as Collision Damage Waivers: up to $3,000 per year if you annualize it!
Maine Law requires your auto insurer to cover verifiable loss of use for the rental company up to 30 days. That’s fine as long as the rental company doesn’t claim more than 30 days lost income. With supply chain issues and labor shortages, repairs can often take more than 30 days. You could still be responsible for loss of income beyond 30 days. This is a gap, and one you should consider before declining to purchase LDW.
Rental Car Insurance Tips
Check the Vehicle
Protect yourself by checking the car carefully for damage – with a rental company employee present – before you leave the lot and when you return it. Request that all prior damages be noted in writing. We’ve heard about car renters being charged for damage weeks after turning in vehicles. If you didn’t have an attendant check the vehicle when you returned it, there’s no way to prove your innocence.
Read the Contract
Rental contracts differ. Be sure you understand:
Who can drive the vehicle
Any restrictions or requirements (alcohol or drug use, types of roads driven, etc.)
Rental Car Insurance: Budget vs. Risk
Buying the waivers from the car rental company is the safest way to reduce your risk. But it’s expensive. Weigh the cost of those waivers against the additional risk you assume by not buying them.
It’s that time of year again – the cold weather is settling in, and the snow is starting to fall. For many, this means bundling up and staying inside as much as possible. But for some, it means dusting off the snow shovel and hitting the road. If you’re someone who chooses to drive in the snow, be sure to follow these tips to stay safe!
1. Make sure your car is adequately prepared for winter weather. This includes checking the tires, windshield wipers, and headlights to ensure they are all working properly and clear of any snow or ice buildup.
2. Drive slowly and carefully, especially on hills and curves. This will help you maintain better control over your vehicle and give other drivers plenty of time and space to react to your presence on the road.
3. Keep a safe distance from other cars, and use your brakes sparingly. This will not only help you avoid accidents, but it will also help preserve your car’s brake pads if you need to come to a sudden stop.
4. If you get stuck in the snow, don’t panic – there are several steps you can take to get yourself out. First, clear any snow or ice from your wheels using a shovel or other tools if necessary. Next, try gently rocking your car back and forth to work the snow out from underneath your tires. And lastly, if these steps don’t work, consider calling a tow truck to help you get back on the road.
If you have questions about driving in the snow or how to protect yourself with auto insurance, call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance today. We proudly serve the Portland, ME area.
Maine insurance rates remain among the lowest in the US. But home and auto rates are up as insurers struggle with rising claim costs and rising construction values. Portland Maine area insurance buyers saw increasing prices in the 3rd quarter of 2022.
Maine Auto Insurance Rates – June to September
Between June and September 2022, Portland Maine area auto insurance rates averaged a 3.7% increase at renewal, up from 1.7% last quarter. That’s still below the national average of 4.3%.
About 62% of auto insurance buyers experienced an increase in premium. The other 38% saw premiums the same or less than before. Higher repair costs, delays finding replacement parts and increased driving speeds are all factors insurance companies site when they have to increase rates. Customers’ rates might decrease if accidents and violations “age off” or they choose to reduce or remove coverage on vehicles.
Maine Home Insurance Rates – June to September
Portland Maine home insurance renewal rates increased 9.6% from June to September. That’s rising faster than auto premiums, and an increase from last quarter’s 4.1% clip. That’s still less than the national average.
Home owners were more likely than auto insurance customers to see a rate increase: 91% saw a renewal increase. Only 9% saw rates stay the same or decrease. Higher building costs contributed to increased rates. So did longer rebuilding times due to labor shortages. The cost to rent temporary housing is very high now. That drives property insurance rates higher. So does the increasing cost of property reinsurance. That’s affected by disasters and other uncertainties.
Maine insurance rates are some of the lowest in the US. But home and auto rates are up as insurers struggle with rising claim costs and rising construction values. Fortunately, Maine insurance buyers are seeing smaller rate increases than much of the country.
Maine Auto Insurance Rates
As of June 2022, Maine auto insurance rates are averaging a 1.7% increase at renewal. That’s considerably less than the national average of 4.3%. The Wall Street Journal recently reported increases as high as 20%.
The main factors driving auto insurance increases include:
More driving. Miles driven are returning to near pre-pandemic levels
More serious crashes. Traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high last year.
Higher repair costs. Parts and labor costs have both risen sharply due to staffing issues, shipping problems and supply chain glitches.
Higher used car prices. When insurance companies total a vehicle, they have to pay the current used car market price. Used car prices went through the roof recently.
Car rental issues. Auto body repair times are much longer. That means longer replacement rentals. Daily car rental costs have spiked, too.
Maine Home Insurance Rates
Maine home insurance rates are rising faster than auto premiums, at a 4.1% clip. That’s still less than the 6% national average. And at an average premium of $1005 per year, Maine home insurance is a relative bargain.
Home insurance costs are affected by building values and claim costs.
Rebuilding costs. Building materials and labor costs spiked during the pandemic. Insurance companies have increased their “inflation guard” factors to provide increased coverage on renewals.
Longer repair times. Contractors are hard to find, too, which increases additional living expenses.
Every insurance company files their rating plan with the Maine Bureau of Insurance. That plan includes individual rating factors such as driving record, insurance claim history, property location and personal insurance scores.
Does car insurance include roadside assistance in Maine? It’s a common question.
Off the shelf auto insurance policies do not include roadside assistance. But many insurance companies offer it as an option. Others offer towing coverage. Both are less expensive that auto club options.
Are Roadside Assistance and Towing Insurance the Same?
Insurance companies have offered towing coverage for years. Roadside assistance is newer. They’re not exactly the same thing.
Roadside assistance and towing cover many of the same things. Examples are: flat tire repair; jump starting; fuel delivery; and towing, of course. The difference is that towing coverage reimbursesyou after the service call. You have to arrange your own service provide. Coverage is limited to a flat dollar amount, often $75.
Roadside assistance is a service. You don’t usually pay at the scene. If you need assistance, you call a special number and provide your policy info. Some insurers have their own app that you can use to summon help. They dispatch a truck to come and help you. Some roadside plans have a dollar limit per disablement. Most use a towing distance limit – often 25 miles.
How Much Does Roadside Assistance Cost on an Auto Insurance Policy?
Each insurance company sets its own rates. In Maine, expect to pay between $10 and $20 per vehicle per year for roadside assistance. Towing coverage usually costs less than $10 per vehicle for a $75 limit.
Do You Need Roadside Assistance or Towing Coverage if You Have AAA or Onstar?
Most people choose not to have both. They either buy roadside assistance on their auto insurance, or another road service.
Some clients choose to buy towing insurance even though they have another service. For example, some subscription plans charge extra to tow more than 25 miles. If that happens, they pay the excess and submit the bill to their insurance under towing coverage.
Answers to Maine Auto Insurance Questions
Live in southern Maine? Have questions about roadside assistance or auto insurance? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s most popular insurance companies. Many of them offer optional roadside assistance coverage. We’ll help you find a solution that fits your needs and budget. We’re independent and committed to you.
Replacing a car with a new one is an easy insurance transaction. Here’s the info your agent needs to do it:
3 Things Your Agent Needs:
VIN – The Vehicle ID Number for the new vehicle. It’s 17 digits long. That’s easy to transpose. And lots of letters and numbers sound alike, so they’re easy to get wrong. A photo of the VIN simplifies the process and reduces mistakes. Text it to your agent, or email it to them.
Finance Info – Did you buy the vehicle outright? Congratulations! Your agent doesn’t need anything. But if you lease it or take out a loan, they do. The name and address of the finance company will be on your title application. Email or text a photo to your agent. Or, you can call with the info.
Aftermarket Safety or Security Options – The VIN contains details about what’s on your vehicle when it comes off the assembly line. If you purchased add-ons at the dealership, let your agent know. That might include subscription items like OnStar. Or an after-market alarm system.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, reduced driving and insurance costs have been a hot topic. Many Mainers are driving less. Why haven’t their car insurance rates dropped? It’s more complicated than you might think. But there are ways to keep your car insurance costs in check.
Why Maine Insurance Rates Haven’t Dropped
Insurance is Slow and Steady
We count on insurance companies to be dependable and stable. We need to know they’ll be able to pay claims in the future. So it’s no surprise that insurance companies aren’t built to react to fast trends. Especially those that may not last.
We want stable insurance prices. The whole purpose of insurance is to avoid a large loss by paying a small cost (premium). Some years, disasters cause insurance companies lose a lot of money. Other times, claims are low. Insurers bank our premiums in those times to pay for the bad ones.
Insurers Have No Experience with COVID
In insurance, data rules. Insurance companies charge premiums based on expected claims. They hire smart math nerds who use decades of data to find the proper rates. Consumers want the lowest possible price. Regulators and stakeholders want rates high enough to make a profit pay future claims.
Historical data didn’t help much during COVID. Americans drove less as people telecommuted and stayed close to home. Nothing was normal.
But overall mileage doesn’t tell the whole story. Essential workers continued to commute as usual (thank you, essential workers!). Law enforcement and highway construction crews noticed increased speeds due to less traffic. That led to more serious crashes and injuries.
COVID Auto Insurance Rebates in Maine
Remember how quiet the roads were in the early days of the pandemic? It was a very uncertain time for the economy. Many people were out of work, and small businesses feared that they’d have to close.
In response, most American auto insurance companies refunded some premium to policyholders in 2020. This was an unprecedented response by insurance companies. By law, rebating of premiums is illegal. But state insurance departments approved exceptions.
But it wasn’t easy. Insurance companies’ billing systems weren’t programmed to rebate money to customers. It was difficult for many of them to calculate and distribute the refunds.
Although the insurance industry returned $10 billion to US consumers, individual refunds were quite small. The public hardly noticed them. Between the underwhelming public response and the cost of the workarounds, insurers didn’t think the rebates were that valuable. We don’t expect rebates again anytime soon.
Reduce Your Auto Insurance Costs When Driving Less
OK, so car insurance companies aren’t slashing rates in response to COVID. And they’re probably not going to refund premium this year. You still have control over your own policy. Here are some adjustments you can make.
Be Sure You’re Properly Rated
Does your policy reflect your actual driving? If you’re working from home, retired or unemployed, maybe not. Check the drivers listed on your policy. Are any of them no longer at home? Do they now have their own insurance?
Check Your Collision Coverage
Do you have an older car that isn’t worth much? Is it rarely driven? Do you have a vehicle that’s completely off the road? Consider removing collision coverage, at least during COVID. Just remember to add it back if the situation changes.
Prove You’re Driving Less
Even “slow and steady” insurance is changing with the times. Several now offer “usage based insurance”. Commonly advertised brands include Progressive Snapshot, Travelers Intellidrive and Drivewise from Allstate.
With usage-based insurance, you allow the insurance company to customize your rate in exchange for an up-front discount. You’ll need a smartphone and the insurance company’s app. Your final price varies depending on how, how much and when you drive. It can be lower or higher than the initial discount.
Safeco Insurance offers a twist: a “low mileage discount” that doesn’t use a real-time monitor. You simply verify your previous year’s mileage to continue to earn their discount. Safeco also has a usage-based mobile app option.
If those cost-saving measures don’t work for you, you can always compare rates with other insurance companies. Live in Greater Portland Maine? You can get up to 5 Maine auto insurance quotes in 10 minutes on our website. Or call a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland for quotes at 207-799-5541.
We offer the choice of more than a dozen insurers, so we can search the market for the best value. We’re independent and committed to you.
Some car dealers offer Maine car insurance at the time of purchase. This is good for dealers because it increases their closing rate and their profits.
Is it good for you? Maybe not.
If you already have insurance, making a snap decision to change when buying a new car at a dealership can be a bad choice. Here’s why.
What’s the Rush?
The salesperson may create a sense of urgency about insurance. However, there’s no rush. If you have an insurance policy with collision coverage on at least one vehicle, your policy probably automatically covers the new one until you can contact your insurance company or agent. Dealers know this; it’s been that way for decades.
Why Add Pressure?
Car buying is already a stress. Why add more? Most of us don’t make our best decisions under pressure. Moreover, you’re making a big financial commitment and choosing between expensive options on the fly. Don’t let the salesperson force you to make unnecessary snap decisions. That includes insurance.
A “Good Deal” May Not Be
First, many new cars have high-end safety features that help reduce insurance costs. Therefore, some don’t cost any more to insure than the ones they replace. So, if you get a quote at the dealer, and were pleased to see it wasn’t as much as you expected, it may still be more than your current insurance company would charge.
You Can Mess Up Your Other Insurance
Your current policy might have benefits you’ll lose. For instance, a home/auto bundle discount. Or a multi-vehicle discount. Or accident forgiveness, or some other perk. You could lose those if you make a snap decision to insure your new vehicle at the dealer. In conclusion, you might pay more – not less.
You Can End Up With Worse Insurance
First of all, most people don’t know what insurance they have. For example, the liability limits and deductibles on their policy. If they make snap insurance decisions at a dealership, they can end up with inadequate coverage.
In conclusion, if the insurance quote from your dealer is really a better value, that won’t change in a few days. Take your time. Make your insurance decisions on your schedule – not the salesperson’s. Above all, whether you switch insurance or not, you’ll have peace of mind that you made the right choice after a thoughtful decision.
Many Mainers drive less than they did a year ago. By many accounts, we are logging about 30% fewer miles than this time last year. Should insurance companies reduce your car insurance rates as a result? Maybe. But it won’t happen automatically.
2020 Driving Trends Affecting Car Insurance
Driving data indicates a dramatic change in behavior in Spring 2020. We all know why.
Fewer Miles Driven (but not by everyone). Many people are not working, or working from home. That means they’re driving less, and not as far. But essential workers and others continue to commute. Some people actually drive more than before, replacing lost income with new gigs.
What Rush Hour? With many offices closed, usual morning and evening congestion has almost disappeared. Those who are are driving do so at different times of day, spreading out road usage. That means less risky driving behavior such as hard stops and quick acceleration.
Increased Speeds With more open space on the road, average vehicle speed increased. Faster speeds and clearer roads can mean fewer but more serious crashes.
Is Your Car Insurance Priced Right?
You might deserve lower car insurance rates. But it won’t happen automatically.
Insurers probably won’t reduce rates across the board. That’s because they don’t know who’s driving less than before.
Car insurance often classifies usage into 3 categories:
Pleasure use – used around town and for personal errants. Not driven to work.
Commute – either short (less than 15 miles one way) or long (more than 15).
Business – such as a traveling sales person, trade contractor or other extensive use.
You may deserve lower car insurance rates. But it won’t happen automatically.
Imagine two Scarborough neighbors. One commutes 7 miles on I-295 into their Portland office every day, parking on the street. The other drives 2 miles to teach at a local school, parking in the school lot. In the summer, the teacher doesn’t commute at all.
They’re rated the same, even though their drives are much different. The Portland worker pays too little, while the teacher overpays.
Customized Rating – Gaining Acceptance
New technology allow insurers to customize car insurance prices as never before. It’s called Usage Based Insurance, or UBI.
Using smartphones, customers share driving data with their insurance company. The insurer compares them to other customers. Safer drivers pay less; riskier ones might pay more. Insurance companies have their own brand for UBI: Progressive Snapshot; Safeco RightTrack; Travelers Intellidrive, and so on. Each one has slightly different features.
In prior years, consumers hesitated to share this data, often citing privacy concerns. That changed in 2020. Many are looking for ways to save money in this time of economic hardship and reduced driving. Almost 50% of people who responded to a JD Power 2020 survey were willing to try Usage Based Insurance (UBI).
Are Customized Insurance Rates Right For You?
Think you’re paying too much for Maine car insurance based on your driving? Interested in learning more about Usage Based Insurance? It’s not for everyone.
A Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent can help you decide if it’s right for you. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s top auto insurers, with and without UBI. Call our team in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.