State expands insurance comparison program
By ERIN MILLER
Hawaii’s state Insurance Division is expanding the kinds of rate comparisons state residents can find online.
The division now offers homeowners rates for Oahu and the Neighbor Islands, as well as condo and renter’s insurance rates, in addition to the car insurance rate comparison that has been offered for years.
Even Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito said he has benefited from the comparisons, the latest of which were released Tuesday.
“I was with one company for homeowners insurance for years,” Ito said. He eventually switched providers for homeowners insurance, but not car insurance. Each year, he would check the rates, and found one year the second company had significantly lowered its car insurance rates. “I ended up saving about $450 a year.”
Ito hears similar stories from state residents. One man was shocked to see how much lower his home insurance rates could be, particularly because he had paid a significantly higher rate for years, Ito said.
Insurance companies seem to be more willing to lower premiums when they know consumers are able to compare rates, Ito added.
The homeowners rates show the range for houses that are single- and double-wall construction, as well as masonry, and account for the distance from fire stations and fire hydrants. Elevation and wind resistance for hurricanes are also factors. The rate comparisons give consumers a snapshot of what different companies charge for similar coverage.
The auto insurance comparison shows how many cars each company insures, the number of complaints received in 2011 and the rate of complaints. First Insurance Co., with 43,586 vehicles insured, recorded only one complaint, giving it the lowest rate of complaints in the state. GEICO Insurance companies has the most insured vehicles, at nearly 196,000, had 69 complaints — the second-highest rate of complaints.
Ito said he did not know how those complaint rates compared with national rates.
In addition to the rate comparisons, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs website also has a 20-page guide about homeowners insurance, describing types of coverage, how to shop for coverage and how to file a claim. Ito said the guide is an informative tool for consumers.
The rates are available online at hawaii.gov/dcca/home_rates/home-insurance-rate-comparison.html.
Email Erin Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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