What is a Home Insurance Inventory and Why Do I Need One?

Portland, ME is a great place to live. Friendly neighbors, farm to table dining and safety make it a popular choice for families and retirees.

Even in a safe place like Maine, bad things can happen. If something happens to your home, you want to be confident that your  insurance will help get life back to normal. When it comes to home insurance, you want to know that your agent is on your side. The team at Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance has been committed to you since 1933.

When you file a home insurance claim, your insurance company needs to know what you lost. Then they pay you to replace it. Imagine after a tragedy trying to remember everything you had in your home. It’s overwhelming.

You can avoid stress and helplessness by preparing a home inventory. This creates a record of all the rooms in your home and what was in them. You can do it with a video, computer spreadsheet or on paper. Either way, aim for as much backup information as possible. Recording details like model numbers and receipts are a good start. Store the inventory in a safe place, and back it up in the cloud or in your safe deposit box.

Are you buying a home or condo in the Portland, ME area? Are you  considering changing insurance companies?  Call an experienced Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent at 207-799-5541.

We are independent agents. That means we offer you lots of choices from a wide variety of insurance companies. We will help you find the best value for the coverage you need. We’re independent and committed to you.

Is Skunk Spray Covered by Insurance?

A Portland, Maine woman recently had an unwelcome guest. A skunk snuck into her home and sprayed 4 times inside before police could remove it. What a mess! The home and everything in it must be deodorized.

Does Home Insurance Cover Skunk Spray?

Will home insurance cover the cost to remove the smell? It depends on whether you bought “off the shelf” coverage or upgraded. It also depends whether your insurance company uses the latest edition of the coverage form (spoiler alert: in this case, the latest is NOT the best).

Skunk Spray Damage Coverage in Basic Homeowners Policies

The most common home insurance form is the ISO HO 00 03. Many Maine insurance companies use it. It’s tried and tested over decades. Insurance people call it “HO-3”.

Insurance Services Office (ISO) updates the form periodically. Each insurer decides which edition to use. In Maine, some insurers still use the 1991 version. Many use the 2000 edition. A few have adopted the 2011 edition.

Before the 2011 edition, “off the shelf” HO-3 policies covered skunk spray damage to buildings. Damage to contents was not covered by the basic policy.

The 2011 edition excludes “discharge or release of secretions by any animals”. Even building damage is no longer covered for skunk spray in the 2011 form.

Which Homeowners Policy Edition do You Have?

Your insurance policy should list coverage forms. The first two letters are the coverage type – “HO” for homeowners. The next four digits are the form number. Basic homeowners are 00 03. Condo policies are 00 06. Renters policies are 00 04. The final four digits are the month and year of the edition. For example, HO 00 03 05 11 is the 2011 edition of the basic homeowners policy.

Can You Buy Extra Insurance for Skunk Damage?

We recommend “open perils” coverage for contents. That covers skunk spray damage on the pre-2011 forms. Ask your agent if you’re eligible for that.

Unfortunately, we know of no way to add skunk spray coverage to the 2011 edition of the policy. The exclusion in the 2011 form denies coverage for skunk spray to both building or contents. You can’t buy it back. That stinks (sorry, we couldn’t help it).

What if a Skunk Sprayed My Vehicle?

You may have purchased “other than collision” coverage on your auto insurance policy. Some people call this “comprehensive” coverage. Most common auto insurance policies in Maine cover damage by animals. That includes skunk spray. So, if a skunk gets into your car and sprays, you probably have coverage. As long as you purchased “other than collision” coverage.

Action Items:

  • Check your property insurance policy’s coverage form and edition date
  • Ask your agent if you have “open perils” coverage. If not, get a quote to add it if you’re eligible.
  • If you’re on the 2011 homeowners form, ask your agent for a quote with a company that uses one of the older editions.

Do you live in the Portland Maine area? Have questions about home, condo, renters or auto insurance? Contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred insurance companies. One of them is likely a good fit for you.

Don’t Be Left in the Dark – Safely Survive a Power Outage

by Kayla Bachelder, Concierge Agent, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance

Ahh, a stormy night at home. Nowhere to be. You’re on the couch with a nice cup of tea, wrapped in your favorite blanket, about to watch your favorite movie.

What’s that? Did the lights flick—oh no!  Power outage!

Silence. The dog growls in the sudden darkness. The cat springs from his favorite spot on the back of the couch, causing you to spill your hot tea everywhere. Complete chaos! How long will the power be out? What will go wrong before the lights come back on?

The Ultimate Defense: Generators

If you have an automatic generator, nothing changes. Critical heating and cooling systems and lights stay on. You continue to sip your tea, pet your cat and watch your favorite movie (some insurers offer a homeowners discount for automatic generators – ask your agent).

If you have a portable generator, it takes a few minutes to hook it up. Then you can power your most important appliances and lights. You may now carry on with your night.

Tips for portable generator owners:

  • Save instructions for properly setting up your generator. Don’t rely on your memory to do it safely.
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide. Never use a portable generator indoors. Keep portable generators away from windows.

For the Rest of Us

Be Prepared Before the Power Goes Out

Power outages can be unpredictable, and you never know how long your power may be out. Always be prepared.

  • Prune trees back from your house.  Even healthy tree limbs can succumb to wind or ice storms. Reduce the risk of damage or loss of electricity. Remove limbs that overhang your home, fences or driveway. 
  • Keep your chimney clean.  People who rarely use their fireplaces or wood stoves often postpone chimney cleaning. During ice storms, we’ve seen house fires caused by dirty chimneys. 
  • Always have plenty of fuel for your generator and any outdoor cooking appliances.
  • If you have an electric sump pump, consider installing a gravity activated backup.
  • Create an emergency blackout kit. Store it somewhere accessible. It won’t be helpful in the back of a closet, or out in the shed.

Emergency Blackout Kit Essentials:

  1. Basic first-aid supplies
  2. Flashlights (avoid using candles)
  3. Drinking water
  4. Extra batteries
  5. Emergency numbers & contacts (incase your cell battery dies)
  6. Backup supplies for your children and pets: diapers, food, etc.?
  7. Canned food is always good to keep on hand in case you can’t get to a store.

Preparing for a Regional Emergency

After a big storm or other regional emergency, power may be out for several days. Are you prepared?

When a Big Storm is Forecast

  • Freeze containers of water to help keep refrigerated food cold.
  • If your water comes from a well, fill your bathtub with water. This will allow you to flush toilets, etc.
  • If you rely on an electric sump pump to keep your basement dry, lift items off the floor.

When the Power Goes Out

  • Leave the refrigerator and freezer closed. A Full freezer will hold food safely for up to 48 hours. A refrigerator will keep food cold up to 4 hours. After that, in cold weather, store food outdoors, in coolers.
  • Turn off electric appliances that were on at the time. This can help avoid a power surge when the electricity comes back on.
  • In winter, open kitchen cabinets to allow the warmer air in the house to reach your water pipes. Pipes are often against cold outside walls. Those walls are even colder when the house has no heat or hot water running through the pipes.
  • If you don’t have a fireplace or wood stove, go elsewhere if the temperature drops too low. NEVER use a gas cook stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Use gas or charcoal grills or camping stoves outside – never indoors.
  • When driving, treat an inoperable traffic light like a four way stop.

When the Power Comes Back On

Check cooking equipment and other appliances to make sure they’re off.

Unsure if your food is still good? Toss it! Better to be safe than sorry. Make a list of the items you discard. Some homeowners insurance policies cover spoilage of refrigerated food. Contact your insurance agent to see if your policy does.

Answers to Your Insurance Questions

Do you live in Southern Maine? Have questions about insurance for frozen pipes or food spoilage? Concerned about water backing up into your basement? Call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We’re independent and committed to you.

We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred home, condo and renters insurance companies. We can help you find the best insurance value and answer your questions.

Don’t Lose Your Stuff to Porch Pirates!

Even the most committed Portland Maine “buy local” fans occasionally buy online. The holiday season will soon be in full swing. That means more shopping, and more opportunity to be a crime victim. Porch pirates are a problem even in Maine, especially during gift-giving season. Maine’s long winter nights provide more of the darkness that thieves love.

Don’t let your joy from the “truck of happiness” turn into the frustration of a box stolen from your porch. Here are some ways to protect your valuable purchases.

Sign up for Tracking Alerts

Most online retailers offer shipment notifications via text, email or smart speaker. Many notify you the very minute your package arrives. Expecting a valuable shipment? Arrange for a trusted friend or neighbor to retrieve and hold it in a safe place until you get home.

Choose an Occupied Delivery Address

Thieves are more likely to target empty or dark homes. Have orders shipped to your work, or the home of a friend or relative who’ll be there to get it. Some online sellers have secure locker facilities or pickup locations. Others allow for pickup at the post office or other shipping store.

Install Smart Home Security

There are so many smart home camera, microphone and monitoring solutions now. Doorbell cameras; motion sensing lights and monitors; whole house security systems. The choices seem limitless. Many allow you to control and watch from a mobile phone or computer. Any option you choose is better than no security at all to reduce your theft risk.

If You are a Porch Pirate Victim

  1. Notify the police. They may be aware of theft rings in your area. Even if they can’t recover your stolen goods, they can alert your neighbors and save them from the trouble.
  2. Notify the seller or credit card company. Some online retailers or credit card plans may provide a refund or replace your stolen item.
  3. Call your insurance agent. Home, condo and renters insurance usually cover theft. If your loss was greater than your deductible (often $1000), notify your agent.

Answers to Your Maine Home Condo and Renters Insurance Questions

Whether you live in a Munjoy Hill condo, West End apartment or suburban house in Falmouth or Scarborough, we have answers to your Maine property insurance questions. If you live in Greater Portland, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541.

Not ready to talk to an agent yet? Get 5 free Maine home insurance quotes online at our website. We’re independent and committed to you.

Do Hurricanes and Wildfires In Other States Affect Maine Insurance Rates?     

Insurance companies pool risk. They collect money from many people to pay the losses of a few who have claims. Everyone’s rates go up or down, depending on the insurance company’s experience. More claims paid = higher rates.


You may be wondering:

  • How much do hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters affect insurance rates?
  • Do disasters in other states affect my insurance rates in Maine?

It’s helpful to understand how insurance companies price their product. Insurance rates are recommended by insurance company actuaries. They project how much money the insurance company must collect to pay claims and make a profit. This requires complex modeling and formulas. Actuaries recommend rate changes to a special committee of company executives. The committee compares the actuary’s recommendation to the company’s profitability and growth targets. They agree on a proposed rate change, and submit it to Maine insurance regulators.

The regulator’s job is to make sure that insurance rates are:

  • Adequate to pay claims
  • Not excessive
  • Not unfairly discriminatory.

Regulators may approve or deny the rate change, or ask for more information.

What Factors Affect Insurance Rates?

At its simplest, insurance is “money in…money out.”

Money In = Premium Collected

Cheap insurance rates may leave the insurance company with insufficient money to pay claims and make a profit. Rates that are too high may send customers fleeing to other insurers.

Money Out = Losses 

The most important determinant of insurance rates. More losses than expected puts pressure for the insurance company to raise rates. Fewer losses puts downward pressure on rates.

But here’s the rest of the story:

Insurance Company Financial Strength – Well-managed insurance companies keep adequate reserves to pay claims on a rainy day. Insurers with strong financials can weather a bad year without huge rate increases. Weaker ones need more frequent rate adjustments. The best way to learn the financial condition of an insurance company? A.M. Best tests the financial strength of insurers and assigns them a letter grade.

Type of Insurance Company – Mutual insurance companies are owned by their customers. After they pay claims, mutuals store their profits to pay future claims. Other insurance companies are stockholder owned. Stockholders expect a return on their investment. Investors pressure executives of publicly held companies to improve profits every quarter. This can lead to larger or more frequent rate increases to stay ahead of current losses.

Reinsurance – Almost every insurance company is also an insurance consumer. They buy insurance against “the big one”. This is called reinsurance. Most companies reinsure against annual total losses exceeding a certain amount. This dampens the impact of multiple hurricanes, fires or other disasters in one year.

Generally, larger insurers buy less reinsurance than smaller ones. Smaller insurers have less surplus, and thus are more vulnerable to catastrophic losses.

Of course, reinsurers are also insurance companies. They must collect more premium if they suffer unexpectedly large claims. Insurance companies pay different reinsurance rates based on their individual loss experience.

Do Disasters in Other States Affect My Insurance Rates?

Probably not as much as you think. Maine insurance regulators only allow insurers to file rates based upon Maine premium and losses. Claims that a company pays in California or Florida are not baked into Maine insurance rates.

BUT…

Insurance companies factor nationwide overhead costs into Maine rates. Cost like advertising, salaries – and reinsurance. Since events outside Maine influence reinsurance costs, they influence Maine customers’ rates. Just less than you might expect.

Homeowners Insurance and Accidents on Your Property in Maine

Having the right home, condo or renters insurance policy is an essential step toward protecting your most valuable asset. It’s an important tool that will protect you and your family financially should a disaster occur. Home insurance policies allow you to recover following events such as fires, weather damage, theft or vandalism. They can also help with the replacement of structures on your property if they are destroyed. The coverage you need depends on your situation. That is why it is important to get to know your agent at Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance. They serve the Portland, ME area, so they understand the challenges that Maine homeowners face.

Liability Insurance Protects Your Assets

One aspect of home insurance to address with your agent is the amount and type of liability insurance that your policy provides. If someone is injured  and you are found to be at fault or negligent, you could be held responsible for their medical expense and legal fees if they decide to sue.  Injury can be caused by a dog bite, slip and fall, swimming pool accident or even a rock thrown from a lawn mower. This can financially ruin many homeowners. Having the appropriate amount of insurance can prevent this unfortunate situation and help you recover financially. You want to take care of your obligations. An adequate home insurance policy can help you achieve these goals.

Questions About Insurance and Your Personal Liability?

Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. Our knowledgeable staff has worked for a long time with clients throughout Portland and the southern Maine area, so we understand the needs that you, as a homeowner, have. Just checking prices for now? You can get up to 5 instant Maine home insurance quotes by clicking the “get a quote” button above. We offer a choice of Maine’s preferred insurance companies, so we can compare options for you. We’re independent and committed to you. Contact us and get the protection and coverage you need today!

Retirement in Maine: How to Reduce Insurance Expenses

If you’re planning to retire or recently retired, CONGRATULATIONS! It’s time to enjoy what you’ve worked so hard for. Many people dream of retiring in Maine. Of course, some of us are lucky enough to already live here!


Retirement finances can be a source of anxiety. No matter how much you’ve saved for retirement, you may wonder:

  • Will I Outlive My Money?
  • How Can I Safely Reduce My Monthly Expenses?
  • Can I Reduce My Insurance Now that I’m Retired?
  • Can I Live on My Monthly Retirement Income?

retirement insurance expense reductionMaine Retirees Are:

  • House Rich – Maine condo and home values are at an all-time high. With even modest savings, you may have a lot of net worth to protect. Make sure you have enough insurance to rebuild or relocate after a disaster. Protect your assets against lawsuits from injuries or property damage you might cause.
  • Income Tight – You’re on a fixed income. Every monthly payment reduces your retirement fund. You watch expenses more closely than ever.
  • Closer to Home? – Travel is now for pleasure, not work. You may drive fewer miles than you used to. Do you plan go south in the winter? What happens to your home and your car while you’re away?
  • Uncertain About the Future – will you stay healthy enough to do the things you want to? If there’s a disaster, will you have enough money to live the life you do now? If you can’t drive, who will help you with your errands?
  • Done with Property Maintenance  – you spent years mowing, shoveling, landscaping and painting. Now someone else can climb the ladder or wrestle the snowblower. Hiring contractors can open you up to liability if they hurt someone – or themselves.

Do You Need Less Insurance in Retirement?

As you prepare for retirement in Maine, you may be eager to reduce your insurance costs. You want to keep monthly expenses down because you’re on a limited income. But you also want to protect the assets you’ve spent your life accumulating. A good insurance agent can help you pick the coverage you need within your budget.

5 Retirement Planning Insurance Value Tips

  1. Buy enough liability insurance – and not too much.

    Your auto and homeowners liability insurance limits should at least equal your net worth. If your total assets exceed $500,000, keep your umbrella policy (or buy one). Umbrella policies are one of the best insurance buys; $1 million coverage often costs less than $200 a year.

  2. Watch Your Maximum Out of Pocket

    How much are you comfortable paying if something bad happens? Choose your home and auto insurance deductibles with that in mind. Larger deductibles reduce your monthly insurance costs.

  3. Compare Insurance Prices

    Because you’ll drive differently, and won’t be working any longer, your underwriting profile changes. Your current insurance company may still be the best value. Or maybe not. A Maine independent insurance agency like Noyes Hall & Allen can compare prices and coverage among several insurance companies with one phone call.

  4. Keep Maintaining Your Property

    Regular maintenance helps you budget your expenses and maximize your insurance options real estate value. If you want to change insurers, your new insurance company will inspect your home. Even if you don’t change companies,  your insurer may inspect from time to time. If they find something that they’re concerned about, they will require you to repair it. It’s better to keep up with repairs and maintenance on your own timetable.

  5. Choose Contractors Wisely

    Hire reputable and trustworthy people to work in and on your property. Ask them for proof of insurance. If they hurt someone or damage their property, or injure themselves, they should be responsible – not you. When hiring cleaning people, home health care or similar service providers, ask if they are bonded.  Bonding protects you against theft by someone you’ve let into your home.

Want a Pre-Retirement Insurance Review?

If you’re thinking about retirement in southern Maine, call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. Or, get several insurance quotes online from our website. We can help you check your current insurance, and let you know if it’s the best value. We can also give you cost-effective advice to customize your insurance to your exciting new life. If you’re moving to Maine in retirement, and looking for a new insurance agent, we’re happy to help. We offer a choice of several of Maine’s top insurers and can do the comparing for you. We can even introduce you to some wonderful local realtors and financial planners.

Either way, you’ll know that your insurance is solid and the cost is reasonable as you head into retirement. At Noyes Hall & Allen, we’re independent and committed to you.

The Most Important Insurance for Maine Cyclists

If you know me, you know that I like to bike year-round. Not every day, but most. I’m not alone. Two of our current staff of 10 regularly bikes to work.

bike commuter insurance guysWe’re lucky to live and work in the Portland area. Maine is ranked #17 most bike-friendly state by the League of American Cyclists. The Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Facebook group has more than 650 members (including me).

As a bike commuting insurance agent, it’s about time I wrote to explain how common insurance policies can protect cyclists, and suggest the best insurance coverage for Maine cyclists. The good news: many cyclists already have the basic coverage; they may just need to adjust their policies to get the best protection.

Car Insurance for Bicycles?

Most cyclists are also drivers, so they have car insurance. They’re probably unaware that their auto policy protects them when they’re cycling.  One part, Uninsured Motorist Coverage, is especially critical when you’re riding your bike:

Uninsured Motorist coverage protects you against injury

  • caused by an accident that’s someone else’s fault
  • if that person had no insurance or insufficient insurance

UM coverage can pay:

  • hospital and medical care
  • prescriptions and therapy
  • lost wages
  • pain & suffering

How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works

UM covers the difference between the limit you purchased and what the responsible party bought. An example: someone with Maine state minimum limits ($50,000 per person) hits you. Your medical bills, lost wages and pain & suffering total $100,000. Your UM policy will pay $50,000 if you purchased at least $100,000 of coverage.

Key Takeaways:

  • Buy as much UM coverage as you can. For most Maine auto policies that’s $500,000.
  • Some umbrella policies allow you to include UM up to an additional $1 million.
  • Even if you don’t own a car, you can buy a “named non-owner” policy, including UM coverage.

Bicycle Coverage on Home, Condo or Renters Insurance

The most common Maine property insurance policies cover:

  • Your bike and accessories against 16 “named perils”, including theft and vehicle damage.
  • Injuries or Property damage you cause to others while cycling
  • Legal defense against lawsuits for injuries or property damage.

They do NOT cover:

  • Collisions or dumping
  • Road damage such as potholes
  • Falling off a vehicle rack, driving into the garage with the bike on the roof rack, etc.

Key Takeaways:

  • Buy “replacement cost” coverage to avoid depreciation.
  • Buy “open perils” (sometimes called HO-5) homeowners coverage. This greatly expands the 16 named perils described above.
  • Your deductible will apply. Keep the value of your bike in mind when you choose deductibles.
  • Some insurance companies allow you to “schedule” your bike, which provides better (“open perils”) coverage, often at no deductible.

Related Post: HO-5 vs. HO-3 Homeowners Policies. What’s the Difference?


How Are Scooters, Mopeds or E-Bikes Insured?

Scooters, mopeds and similar self-propelled vehicles are considered “motor vehicles” by insurance policies. They should be insured on an auto or motorcycle policy. Maine State Law requires proof of auto insurance to register them. The insurance isn’t very expensive.

E-bikes are unique. They’re not considered to be “motor vehicles” by most auto insurance. But they ARE defined as motor vehicles on most homeowners policies, and thus EXCLUDED. That means no property OR liability coverage for e-bikes.

A few specialty e-bike insurance programs exist. For now, we recommend that you buy coverage from them to protect yourself against liability, theft and more. If you do purchase special insurance for your e-bike, pay particular attention to your Uninsured Motorist coverage. As of 2019, Noyes Hall & Allen sells a product that can provide up to $500,000 liability and UM coverage for e-bike owners.


FMI: Electric Bikes and Insurance – from Bike Law Maine


If you’re a cyclist in Maine, and have questions about insuring yourself or your bike, call Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541. We understand cyclists and insurance. We’d be happy to help you protect yourself better. We offer a choice of Maine’s top insurance companies, and know how to advocate for our clients. We’re independent and committed to you.


Resources:

Maine’s data card from League of American Cyclists (.pdf)

Bicycle Coalition of Maine website

Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Facebook Group

How to Compare Insurance Prices and Policies

There are many ways to compare auto, home, condo or renters insurance prices. Most people prefer to save time and work by getting several quotes at the same time.

Two common methods: contact a local independent agent; or get multiple quotes from an app or web site. Businesses that produce these quote sites are called “aggregators”.

Online Insurance Sites & Apps: easy to use, but…

Online insurance shopping sites and apps are usually well-designed, easy and convenient to use.

Most don’t sound anything like an insurance company. They’re often named after a food or an animal, for some reason. Or they sound like tech companies.

That’s because most are not insurance companies. They’re really lead generators. And you’re the product they sell. Although insurance aggregators promise quotes, they rarely present firm numbers. Instead, they sell your information to insurance agents and companies. It’s up to those agents to try to close the sale.

And they’re relentless.

My Insurance Shopping Nightmare

I tried getting quotes recently. I’d barely clicked “submit” when my phone started ringing. It didn’t stop for 2 days. My voice mail clearly says I’m an insurance agent. You’d think they would quickly figure out that I wasn’t going to buy from them. But they kept calling back. And the emails! I gave them credit for persistence even as I cursed their repeated interruptions.

Think that’s unusual? Google insurance quote scams.

Of course, not all insurance quote sites are the same. Some provide an estimated price at the end of your session. But most of those still need more information from you to produce a policy. That can change the price.

Independent Agents: good insurance takes time

Independent insurance agents also offer several insurance options at the same time. They are locally owned businesses. There are about 35,000 in the US.

Call or visit an IA and you’ll spend 10 minutes answering the questions they need to quote. Then, the agent compares rates and coverage and presents a recommendation.

Instead of just taking your order, good independent agents use their local market and insurance knowledge to recommend the right solution. It may take a bit more time than the aggregator’s app, but that can be a great investment if  it helps you avoid an expensive mistake.

Some independent agents are more aggressive than others. Some even buy leads from aggregators. A few (like us) offer online insurance quotes 24/7 on their website. Most don’t share your personal information with anyone else.

It’s smart to shop your insurance

Savvy consumers know to compare insurance prices. You can call several “one company stores”; give your information to an online aggregator; or choose a local independent agent that you trust. If you’re in Southern Maine, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance might be the agent you trust. Find out. Call us at 207-799-5541, get insurance quotes online, or stop by our South Portland office. We’re independent and committed to you.

Why Isn’t it Cheaper to Buy Higher Property Insurance Deductibles?

Recently, a very smart guy asked on Twitter:

“why does it cost $19 a year to reduce my deductible from $1,500 to $1,000, but I only save $25 a year to increase it from $1,500 to $5,000? Shouldn’t deductible affect premium linearly?”

A wise guy responded with the snark that insurance often inspires:


Insurance Can Seem Illogical

Insurance is a big budget item. It costs a lot to protect your home, condo, car and other stuff (we won’t even start on medical insurance).

Insurance seems even more expensive because most of us don’t have claims very often. The average person has 3 or 4 auto accidents in their driving lifetime, and a home insurance claim every 12 years.

Insurance Is Mostly Math – and Math is Logical

The key concept of insurance is that everyone pays a fixed amount each year to avoid paying a huge and uncertain amount if something terrible happens. The money paid by the many goes to the few who have losses.

The typical fire claim is about $45,000. Liability claims average about $22,000, and water damage $9,000. Any of those would be a financial catastrophe for many Americans. Better to pay a fraction of that each year in predicable installments.

Insurance rates aren’t random. Insurance companies submit their rate requests to state insurance departments for approval. Those requests are accompanied by data about loss payments and current projections produced by math nerds called actuaries. The math can be heavy, and the results hard to understand.

Why Aren’t Insurance Deductible Savings Greater?

You might think that increasing your deductible by $1,000 should save twice as much as a $500 increase. That’s because you’re thinking about yourself, and your experience. The insurance company thinks about everyone’s claims, not just yours.

Most Claims are Small

While the average insurance claim is big, most claims are small. For every $100,000 fire claim, there are dozens of $1,500 ones. Think about it: every larger claim exceeds a smaller deductible, but not every claim reaches the larger one.

Insurance Deductible Example

Here’s an example of 3 deductible scenarios using 8 typical claims:

What happens when the deductibles increase to $2,500?

The insurance company sees that they pay 24% more on policies with $1,000 deductibles compared to $2,500 deductibles, so they offer a corresponding discount in their rates.

What if the deductibles were $10,000 instead of $2,500?

An individual or business owner might look at those figures and say “I’m taking a lot more risk with a jumbo deductible, so I should get a big discount”.

But the insurance company pays only 19% less, despite the $10,000 deductibles vs. $2500. The insurance company’s risk of claims payments isn’t linear, and so neither are the deductible savings. That’s why you don’t save as much when you buy a much larger deductible.

Logical, no?

Need Insurance Deductible Advice?

Do you live or own a business in Southern Maine? Have questions about your personal or business insurance?  Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of several of Maine’s top insurance companies. We can help you choose the most cost-effective property insurance deductible. We’re independent and committed to you.