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    Sunday, April 21, 2024

    Report: Conn. homeowners could see another hike in insurance rates in 2024

    With U.S. insurance claims escalating amid extreme weather and wildfires, Connecticut homeowners rates could rise by 9 percent on average this year according to a new report — one of the dozen biggest increases in the nation on the heels of four straight years of increasing property and casualty insurance claims by Connecticut policyholders.

    Insurify estimates Connecticut homeowners will see an average increase of $163 on renewal, pushing the average premium past $1,925 for 2024.

    Andrew Mais, Connecticut's insurance commissioner, addressed the topic of insurance affordability at a March meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, in his role as NAIC president. Mais said the industry needs to close a "protection gap," as people find they can no longer afford the insurance policies they need.

    "On paper, the idea is pretty basic — you want to ensure that as many people as possible have access to as many relevant products as possible without any unnecessary barriers," Mais said. "The data on gaps represents more than numbers. Each statistic is an individual facing some of life's greatest risks."

    In 2022, Connecticut property and casualty insurance claims totaled close to $6.4 billion, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That was up for a fourth consecutive year, from $5.9 billion in 2021 which had been the previous high on record. The 2022 total was also 51 percent more than average annual claims volumes over the prior 14 years.

    In Louisiana where home insurance premiums are the second highest in the United States, Insurify is projecting a 23 percent hike in homeowners insurance premiums, to just over $7,800. In Florida, homeowners are paying nearly $11,000 annually on average, with Insurify predicting a 7 percent increase for renewals this year of about $760.

    Walloped in recent years by a succession of hurricanes, Florida has been driving a sharp increase in property and casualty insurance claims in the United States. Hurricane Ian in 2022 triggered more than $66 billion in property and casualty insurance claims in Florida, according to the most recent data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. That equates to 185 percent of Florida's average annual claims tally over the preceding 14 years. By comparison, U.S. claims in 2022 were up by half from the annual average over the same stretch.

    Despite improved returns last year in the investment markets, many insurers have been struggling as claims costs have barreled past what they had charged historically for premiums. The U.S. property and casualty insurance industry absorbed a $21.2 billion net underwriting loss in 2023, according to credit agency A.M. Best, compared to a $24.9 billion loss the prior year.

    Last year, Connecticut homeowner's insurance carriers requested an 11.1 percent increase in premiums on average, up from 6.1 percent in 2022 according to the Connecticut Insurance Department's annual review of property and casualty insurance rates released in January. The insurance department approved rates that averaged to a 9.6 percent increase across the more than 130 homeowners insurance carriers it oversees.

    Unlike the health insurance market in Connecticut where a small handful of carriers dominate the market, the three largest homeowner's insurance underwriters had less than 15 percent of all coverage in force as of 2022. Traveler's led the market that year with more than 5 percent market share, according to the Connecticut Insurance Department, followed by Allstate and Liberty Mutual.

    The Connecticut Insurance Department reported no change in homeowners insurance rates for Travelers largest book of business in Connecticut last year, with a smaller book of policies seeing an 8 percent hike on average. Allstate rates were up 11 percent on average in Connecticut, and Liberty Mutual up 5 percent.

    "We feel pretty good about the trends we're seeing in physical damage severity coming down on the homeowners side," said Liberty Mutual CEO Tim Sweeney, referencing the company's overall book of business during a conference call in early March.

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