Premium hikes in home insurance spurs New Jersey legislation
Depending on the size of the problem, you may see your home insurance premium spike significantly after a single claim, according to a new report. In response, a state lawmaker has introduced legislation to prohibit this from happening.
A study from insuranceQuotes.com found the average premium increase following one home insurance claim in 2014 was 9 percent nationwide and 5.7 percent in New Jersey. The numbers were calculated using information from six large insurance carriers and an assumed claim amount of $2,000.
Dave Phillips, a New Jersey spokesman for State Farm, said the study should not lead people to believe they will see an automatic increase with each claim.
"One claim in it of itself doesn't necessarily mean you're going to see a rate increase," Phillips said. "If the claim itself warranted further repairs that may need to be done, or exposed more risk as a result of the loss they filed, there could be a consideration of increasing their premium."
For New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Paramus), though, the study was enough to prompt a new bill. Under his measure, insurers who hike a user's rate after one claim would be subject to a penalty of up to $25,000.
"This is incredibly unfair," Eustace said in a press release emailed Feb. 9. "Why should consumers be punished for filing a claim when that is what they paid for?"
Christine O'Brien, president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey, said legislation is not the answer for this matter, as many factors go into determining rates, and the insuranceQuotes.com study does not point to an "across-the-board" problem.
"If a homeowner really feels that their policy is being rated more than they would have anticipated or expected, or cannot afford it, they really should shop around," O'Brien said. "It is a very competitive marketplace."
She said there are over 100 companies looking to write homeowner insurance policies in New Jersey.
Phillips said homeowners should "think through their claim" before filing. If all it would get you is $300 in repair work, it may not be worth the trouble.