Navigating Maine Property Insurance in 2024

It’s clear that Maine property insurance is facing challenges in 2024. Homeowners are feeling the impact. Rising rates, policy cancellations and coverage cutbacks are common. It’s not just a coastal problem. People all over Maine are discovering that insurance underwriters hold the cards in this market. How and why is the insurance market so hard right now? Do you have any recourse? What can you do to control costs?

Maine property insurance is facing challenges in 2024

There are many reasons, but they all come down to cost. Insurance is designed to share costs and spread risk. Claims of the few are paid by the many through insurance premiums. Insurance companies are well-funded. They have reserves to pay out more than they collect in premiums for a short time. But those costs are then passed on. Otherwise, the system falls apart and everyone loses.

Insurance claim costs have spiked in many areas for various reasons. They include:

  • Inflation in materials – Rising costs for building materials, auto parts, and medical supplies contribute to higher claim expenses.
  • Increased claim severity – More frequent and severe weather events, changes in property use, and an increased number of seasonal and secondary properties lead to larger claims.
  • Rising labor prices – Worker shortages, wage increases, and legislative impacts affect repair costs.
  • Longer repair times – Shortages in parts, materials, and labor result in extended repair durations, impacting expenses for auto rentals, temporary housing, and commercial relocation.
  • Reinsurance costs – Insurance companies buy reinsurance to protect themselves from disasters. Shrinking reinsurance capacity since 2020 has led to price hikes for insurers.

Mainers often think that weather disasters happen “somewhere else”. But they do happen here. And lately they’ve been more frequent.

Verisk defines a catastrophe (“CAT”) as an event resulting in more than $25 million in insured losses. Regional insurers may see an average of 4-5 “CAT” events per year in Northern New England. In 2023 there were 8.

There aren’t just more catastrophes than normal. They’re bigger too. Their 2023 expected payout for damage from CAT claims was nearly 8X an average year. We don’t see signs of improvement right away. 2024 started with a major wind and rainstorm.

Maine property owners are seeing a lot of changes in their insurance. Most of it is not good news. Here are some things you might experience:

  • Increasing rates – Even homeowners with no claims experience are facing rising rates, with the current average increase around 17% in Maine.
  • Saying “no” -Moving to a different insurance company during this time can be risky, as many insurers decline to quote on properties they consider higher risk.
  • Tougher inspections – Insurers are inspecting properties more often and more closely. They’re focusing on roof condition and overhanging trees. Some are even using aerial photographs to spot hazards.
  • Bumping deductibles – Many coastal properties now have big wind deductibles. Some insurers are increasing deductibles across the board. Others are only increasing deductibles if you’ve had several claims.
  • Mandatory alarms – Insurers require owners of high value or secondary homes to install central alarm systems to warn against water leakage, low temperature, fire and burglary.
  • Required increases in insurance amount – Building material and labor cost increases mean higher costs to rebuild your home. Insurers review that cost periodically and require you to insure to the full rebuilding cost. (Although it costs more, it’s important to make sure you have enough insurance to rebuild – this is a benefit).
  • Cancellation or non-renewal – Insurers may cancel policies due to claims or if homeowners fail to make necessary improvements after an inspection.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance plays a crucial role in regulating insurance companies offering Maine property insurance. Here are some key points:

Rate Approval and Policy Changes

  • The Bureau approves rates for insurers authorized to do business in Maine.
  • They also permit cancellation or non-renewal for certain reasons. Those reasons include failure to comply with reasonable loss control recommendations or failure to permit inspection.
  • Insurers can make changes to policy terms, which is known as a “conditional renewal.”
  • If an insurer decides not to renew your policy, they must send you a “legal notice of non-renewal.”

Challenging a Non-Renewal

  • As a policyholder, you have the right to challenge non-renewal by appealing to the Maine Bureau of Insurance.
  • However, insurers typically adhere to non-renewal rules, making successful appeals less common.

Although you can’t completely avoid large market forces, you can do some things to control your Maine property insurance costs and protect your property.

  • Pro-actively protect your property – regularly trim trees and shrubs away from buildings. Install a generator or backup sump pump. Keep gutters clean. Use a low-temperature alarm if you’re often away from the property.
  • Keep up on maintenance – take care of peeling paint or moss or debris on your roof. Replace roof shingles before you get water damage (hint: like tires, shingles don’t usually last as long as the warranty may say).
  • Stay claim-free – Small insurance claims sit on your record for 5 years or more. Many insurance companies decline to insure new properties if they have multiple property claims.
  • Watch your credit score – insurers “score” policies to set rates. An insurance score is closely related to your credit score. The better your score, the lower your rate.
  • Choose a local insurance agent – Local knowledge can be the difference between getting property insurance and not. National insurers and 800 number agents don’t know your area like a local advocate.
  • Communicate with your insurance agent. Let them know if you make improvements, install alarms or generators, or pay off your mortgage. All of those might reduce your insurance premium.

If you own property in Southern Maine, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s top insurance companies. While we don’t control the market, we have a good perspective on current conditions. We can help you find the best fit and value for your property insurance.

We’re independent and committed to you.

Why Property Insurance is More Important in a Tight Housing Market

It’s a tight housing market in Maine right now. Whether your rent or own, that means property insurance is more important than ever. High costs and tight supply define the current market.

  • Building material costs remain at historic highs.
  • Contractors are busy, often scheduling work months ahead.
  • Real estate inventory is very low, which means it’s hard to find temporary housing.
In a tight housing market, property insurance is more important than ever.

Whether you’re a homeowner, condo owner or renter, property insurance can help. If disaster strikes your home, property insurance may help in three ways.


Cleanup Expenses

Property insurance can pay to remove smoke odors from furniture or clothing. It can also pay to dry water-damaged property. This helps you to salvage the things you need and your favorite belongings. Without homeowners, condo or renters insurance, you would have to pay these costs out of pocket.

Temporary Living Expenses

What if your home is damaged so badly that you can’t stay there? Your homeowners, condo or renters insurance may help. It may pay the extra cost for you to stay elsewhere until you can move back or find a new place.

Since housing is tight, that can be expensive. Make sure you have enough Additional Living Expense coverage. We recommend at least 3 months’ rent cost for renters and 12 months rent cost for home or condo owners.

Rebuilding, Repair and Replacement Costs

If you own your home or condo, your property insurance may cover the cost to repair fire, water or wind damage. What if your belongings can’t be repaired? Your renters, homeowners or condo policy may pay to replace them.

  • Make sure you have replacement cost coverage. “Off the shelf” policies may only pay depreciated value.
  • Check your Personal Property coverage limit. Is it enough to replace your belongings “new for old”. Increase your insurance if necessary.
  • If you own your place, check your Dwelling coverage limit. Is it enough to rebuild? Building costs are very high in the tight Maine housing market. Make sure your policy is keeping up with inflation.

Local, Professional Advice is Important   

You can buy property insurance on the internet or from a call center. But why?

A local insurance agent doesn’t cost extra. They also know the local market and can advise you before and during a claim.

As an independent agent Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland offers a choice of many insurance companies. We can compare options for you. That saves time and money. Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent for more information at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.  

    How to Switch Insurance Agents or Insurance Companies

    Do you want to switch insurance agents? Has your agency sold or merged? Your favorite contact gone? Tired of talking to agents who don’t seem to know who you are? Or you just don’t click with your current agent. Maybe you want to switch insurance companies too. In any case, you’re in the market. Where to start?

    You can switch insurance agents or insurance companies. It's easier than you think.

    You Can Switch Insurance Agents with the Same Insurance Company

    Satisfied with your insurance company, but not your agent? Most insurers can transfer your policy to a new agent. Check the insurance company’s “find an agent” page and reach out to one. If they don’t feel like the right fit, contact another until you’re comfortable. However, timing matters here: Many companies only transfer policies at the renewal date.

    You Can Switch Insurance Agents and Switch Insurance Companies

    If you don’t love your insurance agent OR your insurance company, you’re ready for a fresh start. Here are some ways to find an agent that’s the right fit for you:

    • Ask a trusted friend who they use
    • Check online reviews at Google or another platform.
    • Call or meet them to explain your needs and preferences. Have your insurance policies handy. Can you picture yourself working with them? If you get that “square peg, round hole” feeling, contact another agent on your list.

    What Kind of Agent is Best for You?

    There are 2 kinds of insurance agents: exclusive (sometimes called “captive”) and independent. What’s the difference?

    Exclusive agents work with one insurance company. They may be an employee of the insurer, or they might own a local franchise. The good news is that they will know their company’s policy terms, billing and procedures inside and out. Because they’re local, they also know your area and can provide individual advice.

    On the other hand, independent agents offer a choice of several insurance companies. They can compare the policies, pricing and underwriting of each company to help you find the best fit. Moreover, if one insurance company hikes rates or changes in ways you don’t like, you don’t have to switch insurance agents. An independent agent can help you switch insurance companies.

    Looking to Switch Insurance Agents or Companies in Maine?

    If you live in Maine and are looking for an independent agent, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred insurance companies. Because of that, we can compare and help you find the best fit.

    We’re independent and committed to you.

    South Portland Home Insurance About to Renew?

    We know South Portland home insurance. We can help you get the best value.

    South Portland Maine home insurance since 1933 - Noyes Hall & Allen

    From Ferry Village to Highland Avenue and Brick Hill to Meeting House Hill, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance has provided South Portland home insurance since 1933. That’s a long time of protecting our neighbors and businesses.

    Is your home insurance about to renew? Wonder if the price and coverage are competitive? Why not get a 2nd opinion? It’s totally free and without obligation.

    Independent

    As a Trusted Choice Independent Agency, we offer a choice of Maine’s preferred home insurance companies. That allows us to find solutions that fit your budget and your needs.

    Committed to You

    We’re a locally owned business. Our team lives, works and plays here. We support South Portland organizations and non-profits. Put our local knowledge to work for you. You can get up to 5 home insurance quotes in 10 minutes here, or by clicking the button below.

    Your Insurance Claim is Reported – What Happens Next?

    We’re sorry to hear about your loss. You’ve reported an insurance claim. What’s next?

    Important insurance claim information includes who's responsible for what.

    After you report your claim to an insurance company, they assign it to an adjuster. The adjuster determines whether your policy covers this claim, and, if so, what it will pay.

    The adjuster should contact you within 24 hours. It might be longer if you reported your claim on a holiday or a weekend. If you haven’t heard from the adjuster after a full day, or if your situation is urgent, contact the adjuster or your agent.

    Your insurance policy is a contract.
    It requires you AND your insurance company to do certain things.

    Your Responsibilities in an Insurance Claim

    • Prevent further damage to any property until it can be inspected and repaired.
    • Respond promptly to any claim communication. That helps speed the process.
    • Keep copies of any documents important to settling your claim. That might include: police reports; receipts; estimates; or notes of conversations.
    • Cooperate with the insurance company to settle the claim. That may include providing a list of your lost or damaged items.

    Your Insurance Company’s Claim Responsibilities

    • Investigate your claim thoroughly, promptly and fairly.
    • Pay or deny your claim within a reasonable time.
    • Provide a written explanation for any denial, referencing your insurance policy wording.
    • Fairly compensate you for a covered loss, according to the terms of your policy.

    Your Agent’s Role in Your Insurance Claim

    One reason you do business with Noyes Hall & Allen is assistance after a loss.

    Most claims go faster if your agent doesn’t get in the middle. You and your adjuster work together to settle your claim quickly and fairly.

    Sometimes you need more help. We’re here! Your agent can:

    • Explain any insurance terms, or how the process works.
    • Help get your claim back on track if communication falters during the process.

    Contact Noyes Hall & Allen if you need assistance with your claim: 207-799-5541.

    Andover Insurance Offers New Protection from Cyber Crime

    Many of us are online more than ever. We can shop for everything from groceries to garden supplies. We can pay bills, communicate with doctors, connect with loved ones, and read news online.

    This can all be really convenient. It can also expose your personal information to cyber criminals and other bad actors.

    Up to now, insurance coverage against cyber crime frankly hasn’t been very good. It covered limited types of loss – mostly the kind that don’t occur often.

    But Andover Companies recently introduced Cyber Protection coverage.

    We like Andover’s Cyber Protection because it covers you against many common situations, including:

    • Cyber attack – someone attacks your computer, stealing information.
    • Data breach – your personal information is stolen or compromised from a vendor or service you use.
    • Online fraud – unauthorized use of accounts, identity theft, etc.
    • Cyber extortion – your computer is disabled by bad actors who promise to fix it – for a price.
    • Cyberbullying – harassment or attack via text, email or social media. 

    Premium starts at $45 per year for $25,000 in protection. You can buy as much as $50,000 coverage for $55 per year. 

    For years we’ve asked our insurance companies to introduce coverage like this. Andover Companies is one of the first one to make it broadly available to our clients. We recommend that our clients consider it.

    Interested in learning more? Here is a link to our Blog Post about Cyber Insurance (5 minute read). 

    If you’re a Noyes Hall & Allen client who would like to add cyber protection, or have any questions about your insurance, we’re happy to help with local, personalized service. Call us at 207-799-5541.

    Comprehensive and Collision Insurance – What’s the Difference?

    Comprehensive and collision insurance is how most Maine people and businesses insure their vehicles. Though often lumped together, they’re really separate coverages. What’s the difference between them? Do you need both?

    comprehensive and collision insurance cover damage to your vehicle

    Comprehensive and Collision Insurance Cover Your Vehicle

    Both comprehensive and collision insure damage to your vehicle. The insurance company pays up to the “actual cash value (ACV)” of the vehicle, less your deductible. ACV is usually close to market value. The insurance company may declare a vehicle a total loss if the damage exceeds 75% of its value.


    Related Post: What Happens When a Vehicle is Totaled in Maine?


    Collision Coverage is Mostly What it Sounds Like

    Collision coverage applies when you strike a fixed object or another vehicle. For example,

    • You crash into another vehicle
    • Another vehicle crashes into you (even if you don’t know who did it)
    • You back into a post or building
    • You strike an object in the road
    • A runaway shopping cart scrapes your vehicle at the grocery store.
    • You damage your wheel in a pothole

    Collision pays the cost to repair your vehicle, up to the Actual Cash Value (ACV).

    Comprehensive Insurance Really Isn’t

    Although commonly called “comprehensive” coverage, you won’t find that word in your insurance policy. Its official insurance name is “Other Than Collision”. Insurance nerds will correct you, lest you think that it really does cover everything.

    But Other Than Collision coverage is pretty broad. It covers most other things that can damage your vehicle. For instance:

    • Fire
    • Theft
    • Vandalism
    • Glass breakage or cracking
    • Hitting an animal (that isn’t collision, believe it or not).
    • Flood
    • Tree branches, flying road debris and other falling objects
    • Hail

    Should You Have a Special Glass Damage Deductible?

    Glass damage is part of “other than collision” coverage. In fact, it’s the most common kind of comprehensive claim. Replacing a windshield may cost more than you think. That’s why many people choose a lower glass deductible. This allows them to save money with a higher deductible for other comprehensive claims, but not pay $1000 for a windshield.

    Keep in mind that most insurance companies waive the deductible for glass repairs vs. replacement. Many cracks and chips can be repaired so well that it’s hard to detect afterwards.


    Related post: When Should I Drop Collision Coverage?


    Maine Auto Insurance Questions?

    If you live or own a business in Maine, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent for prompt, professional insurance answers. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s top business insurers. In other words, we can help you find the best fit and value for your insurance. Because we’re independent and committed to you.

    Insurance Broker or Agent – Which is Better?

    Insurance broker or agent. Which is better? Is there even a difference between a commercial insurance broker and an independent business insurance agent?

    Insurance broker or agent can help you get the best value for your insurance

    Insurance Broker or Agent – the Legal Difference

    Agent and broker are legal terms. They mean something different.

    Independent insurance agents contract with insurance companies represent them to the public. Those contracts grant agents the authority to “bind” the insurance company to certain commitments. Agents offer efficiency, flexibility and local knowledge that big insurance companies don’t have. That benefits both the companies and the clients.

    Insurance Brokers have no authority to bind insurance companies. The insurance company or its agent must approve a broker’s request to bind insurance coverage.

    Duties Owed by Insurance Broker or Agent

    A broker’s duty is to their client. They have to be honest with insurance companies, of course. But they have no contractual obligation to any insurance company. In theory, a broker could place their clients’ insurance with any insurer licensed to do business in their state.

    An agent owes a duty both to the insurance companies and their client. Because they’re contracted directly with insurance companies, therefore they owe an extra duty to those companies in return for the authority that the companies give them.

    An agent also owes duties to their client. In Maine, those duties include:

    • firstly, to act in good faith
    • secondly, to use reasonable care and diligence in serving best interest of the client
    • and finally, to carry out the client’s instructions

    Sometimes an Agent is a Broker

    Sometimes insurance agents use non-contracted insurance companies to get the best deal for their clients. They may even work with another agent who has a contract to represent a company that they themselves don’t. In those cases, they’re essentially acting as brokers. They have no authority to bind or commit the insurance company. And they owe no contractual duty to the insurer.

    How An Insurance Broker or Agent is Paid

    Both agents and brokers work on commission. Insurance companies pay a percent of the premium to the producing agent or broker. That commission may also be shared between an agent and a broker.

    Some brokers also charge fees to their clients for certain services. For example, clients could hire a broker to help them improve their claim history. Some brokers also charge for transactions, for example issuing proof of insurance.

    Advantages of Insurance Brokers vs. Agents

    • First, brokers represent their clients, not insurance companies. They have no contractual obligation to the insurance company.
    • Second, brokers may have access to more insurance companies than an agent. Agents often have contracts with 8-10 insurance companies. In theory, brokers can access any licensed insurer.
    • Third, brokers may provide additional services that agents cannot. For example, claims management, self-insurance or safety consulting.

    Advantages of Independent Agents vs. Brokers

    • Speed and efficiency. Agents can bind coverage on behalf of insurers. That reduces the time to put coverage in force. They also know their insurance companies well. They know how to quickly get things done.
    • Insurance company influence. Insurers work closely with their agents. They trust them. They also rely on agents to bring good customers to them. Therefore, agents often have influence with insurers to advocate for their clients.
    • Local knowledge. Many agents are embedded in their communities. They know the geography, culture and customs of their area. They work with families and businesses of all sizes. Brokers tend to be larger and operate in a wider area.

    A Maine Independent Agency

    Do you live in Maine? Looking for a Portland area independent insurance agent? Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s top insurance companies. In other words, we can help you find the best fit and value for your insurance. Because we’re independent and committed to you.

    Non-Admitted Insurance in Maine

    “Non-admitted” insurance companies are not approved by the Maine Bureau of Insurance. But they play an important role in Maine’s insurance market. Non-admitted carriers are often called “surplus lines” or “excess lines” insurers. They take higher risks than admitted insurers. That comes at a cost. Here are the pros and cons of the non-admitted insurance market.

    non-admitted insurance companies provide a valuable service, with some risk.

    The Risk of Non-Admitted Insurance

    • Non-admitted insurance companies’ coverage forms are not approved by Maine regulators. Their customers don’t enjoy many of the Maine Insurance Code’s protections. But they are subject to federal regulation through the Dodd-Frank Act (.pdf, 800+ pages).
    • In case of insurer insolvency, the Maine Guarantee Fund does not apply. Even if a policy is active, claims might not be paid if the company goes bankrupt.
    • The Maine Bureau of Insurance doesn’t review or approve non-admitted insurance rates. They do with admitted insurers. Non-admitted insurers may charge what the market will bear.
    • Many non-admitted insurance policies have a “minimum earned premium” of 25% of the annual premium. Even if you cancel your policy right away, the insurer will keep 3 months’ premium.
    • Non-admitted insurers may add separate policy fees to premium. Those are usually non-refundable. They must add Maine surplus lines tax to the premium, too.

    Non-admitted insurance is often more expensive and provides less coverage. That’s why Maine only allows non-admitted carriers to insure risks that admitted carriers refuse.

    Non-Admitted Insurance Can be Valuable

    Purchasing insurance from a non-admitted carrier isn’t ideal. But it is a valuable service.

    • Some protection is better than none. While non-admitted insurance coverage is restrictive, it can protect customers against catastrophe.
    • Non-admitted coverage can be a temporary solution. It can give you time to make improvements and qualify for insurance from an admitted insurer.
    • Most lenders will accept non-admitted policies as proof of insurance. Lenders require insurance from their borrowers in order to make a loan.

    Be a Smart Insurance Consumer

    Purchasing insurance from a non-admitted carrier can be risky. Since non-admitted insurers are not covered by the Maine Guaranty Fund, it’s important to research your insurer’s financial strength. But many non-admitted insurers have excellent A.M. Best financial ratings (.pdf). Ask your agent about yours.

    Non-admitted insurance proposals list all applicable exclusions, warrantees and coverage forms. You should at least understand them, even if you can’t change them. Your agent should be able to explain them to you. If you’re a client, your Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent can answer questions about your insurance. We’re independent and committed to you.

    My Insurance Payment is Late – and It’s Not My Fault!

    How to Avoid Mail Delays and Policy Cancellation

    “My insurance payment is late, and it’s not my fault!” It’s happening to a lot of people and businesses right now. You don’t get a bill, or it arrives late. You mail the payment to the insurance company, and it isn’t recorded for days. Between COVID era workarounds and USPS issues, insurance billing and payment processing is more unreliable than ever. But it’s still important.

    My insurance payment is late! It may not be your fault, but it's still a problem.

    On Time Insurance Payment is Critical

    If you pay a credit card bill late, you get a late fee. But if your insurance company doesn’t get paid, you might have no insurance. That’s why it’s critical to make your insurance payments on time.

    What if the delay is not your fault? You didn’t get a bill. Or you mailed the payment days ago, but the insurance company hasn’t recorded it. It may not matter. Your insurance can still be canceled if your payment is late, no matter the reason.

    If your policy cancels, two bad things happen. First, you have no insurance. Second, you’ll pay more for insurance when you need to re-start coverage. So it’s very important to make sure your policy stays active.

    Ways to Make Sure Your Insurance Payment is on Time

    Businesses and people are finding ways to make sure their insurance payments are on time. Maybe one of these options will work for you:

    • Electronic billing – Sign up to have your bills emailed. That avoids delays in getting insurance bills.
    • Insurance company accounts – Register for an account with your insurance company. Connect via mobile app or computer. These give you access to proof of insurance, and payment and billing info. You can even file and track a claim online through your account.
    • Pay online – Most insurance companies have a way to pay your bill instantly online. You can pay by credit card, debit card or automatic bank account withdrawal. Noyes Hall & Allen clients can find their insurance company here to pay an insurance bill online.
    • Automatic Payments (EFT) – Allow the insurance company to withdraw payments directly from your bank account. This ensures that your policy payments are always up to date.
    • AVOID Bill Pay Services – Many banks offer online bill payment services. These don’t work well with insurance bills. They don’t include your payment slip, and must be manually processed. Also, you may have more than one policy. Without the ticket, the insurance company doesn’t know which one you’re paying.
    • Double check the insurance company’s address – Many insurance companies use payment processing services. These can be thousands of miles from the insurance company office. If you mail your payment to the insurance company, they will forward it to the payment service. This causes delays in recording payments.

    Answers to Maine Insurance Billing Questions

    If you have an app and an online account with your insurance company, you can answer simple billing questions yourself. But sometimes it’s hard to understand what you owe or why. That’s when an agent can help. They can explain and clarify your insurance billing. Many can even take a payment over the phone if you’re ready to pay.

    Southern Maine families and businesses have trusted Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agents for more than 80 years. We can help you set up a company account or payment schedule. We can explain your bill, or even take your payment if you’re in a rush. We offer a choice of many insurance companies and billing plans. We’re independent and committed to you.