Massachusetts Homeowners See Rates Spike After Harsh Winter

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    Anyone in Massachusetts could probably tell you that the winter they just went through was quite harsh. The city got more than 100 inches of snow in the course of about two months, leading to economic damage that some estimates put in the billions, and headaches for everyone as public transportation was shut down on multiple occasions. Now, homeowners there are about to get even more bad news, only a few days after the last of the snow piles melted at one of the city’s designated “snow farms,” as their home insurance premiums are likely to go up sharply. This is something that insurance agents will have to handle with care in the coming months.

    Because of how harsh that winter was, auto and home insurers alike are probably still trying to handle the fallout, according to a report from the Boston Globe. And to this point, a number of home insurers have submitted rate hikes to the state regulatory board to help deal with those rising costs. The average rate change submitted was an increase of 9 percent, well above what Bay State residents have likely faced in the past (most saw increases in the 2-2.5 percent range last year).

    What’s the cost?
    A 9 percent increase will typically cost the average homeowner in the state about $100 over the course of 2016, or about $8.33 per month, the report said. Right now, such a policyholder pays about $1,150 annually, or roughly $95.83 a month.

    “The unprecedented weather-related events and claims activity this winter have negatively impacted the insurance industry,” Daniel McCabe, vice president for New England at one major home insurer, wrote to independent insurance agents, according to the newspaper. “Profitably writing property insurance in New England requires insurance carriers to prudently price polices [and] accurately underwrite exposures.”

    This was one of the less snowy days in Boston this February.This was one of the less snowy days in Boston last February.

    The fallout for insurers and agents
    Indeed, many agents have already taken the time to warn their clients about these potential increases, the report said. Others have said that they were getting as many as 75 calls per day during the harshest parts of the storm, and insurers have paid an average claim of about $10,000 each on those filings. However, insurers are also starting to urge those homeowners to make improvements to their home that might minimize the risk for all parties in the event of similarly tough winter conditions next year and beyond.

    The more insurance agents can do to let their clients know about their options in this regard, the better off both parties are likely to be in the future. That’s because consumers generally equate good insurance coverage with high-quality customer service, and vice versa. Those who might be a little concerned their premiums are going up for what is effectively the same coverage may feel better after speaking with an agent about the issue. That, in turn, will typically lead to higher customer satisfaction ratings and better rates of client retention going forward.