The Best Way to Pick a Florida Take Out Homeowners Insurance Company

Citizens Property Insurance is Florida’s state run home insurance company. It was formed to offer home insurance coverage to consumers unable to find coverage from a private Florida home insurance company. Homeowners in Florida turn to Citizens for coverage due to one or more risk factors that make their home undesirable to private insurance companies. These risk factors include among other things – the home’s age, distance from the coast, construction materials, and roof type.

Citizens Property Insurance depends on a mix of pre-event hurricane borrowing and imposing after the storm surcharges on all Florida home insurance policies if it doesn’t have the money it needs to pay claims.

This potentially lethal mix of high risk homes along with being under funded is one of the reasons that it’s always been a good idea to try to reduce the number of policies in Citizens Property Insurance. The smaller the number of policies that the company has, there is less chance that policyholders across Florida will have to pay large special assessments for many years after a major hurricane.

One of the ways that is done is by encouraging private home insurance companies to assume or “take out” policies currently covered by Citizens Property Insurance – hence the name “take out companies”. The take out process is also referred to as depopulation.

Attracting companies to assume or take policies out of Citizens Insurance Florida is good public policy.

In addition to moving more of Florida’s wind risk to the private market, customers may also get better customer service from a private take out company that doesn’t have a massive base of over 1 million customers like Citizens. They are also usually rewarded with annual insurance premiums that are lower than what they were paying Citizens. Finally, policyholders with private insurance companies are subject to smaller special assessments after major hurricanes.

Florida take out home insurance companies come to life with an immediate customer base of policyholders without having to make the usual investments in marketing and adverting. When these companies are initially capitalized, its easier for them to raise money because investors know that the take out companies will have an immediate customer base and money coming in immediately after they assume policies from Citizens.

Despite all the good that comes from reducing the number of Florida home insurance policies in Citizens Property Insurance, the take out program is not without its problems.

Policyholders are often concerned about the financial stability of the take out insurance companies. Many are start up companies and have a small surplus available to pay claims of $20 million or less. With Florida hurricane claims averaging $30,000 or more, even after a company’s reinsurance kicks in, there might not be enough money to pay all of the claims.

A significant number of take out companies were created after Florida’s 2004/2005 hurricane seasons. Policyholders are concerned that if their home has a hurricane claim in 2009, that their home will be “on-the job” training for the customer service staff at these newly formed companies – inexperience that could cause delays in paying claims fairly and prompty.

Many of these take out companies milk the policy base they assume and never go on to write any new business beyond the policies they take out of Citizens. Companies that don’t diversify their policy base beyond the original take out policies are more vulnerable to collapsing after a major Florida hurricane.

Last but not least, Florida insurance agents who originally wrote the policies that are being removed from Citizens might not want to become an agent with the new take out companies – even if it means they will lose the business. They simply might not want to add a new company to the mix of companies they already represent. Or they could have real concerns about the financial stability of the new take out company. The agent can’t stop consumers who want to benefit from a take out offer. However, an agent’s reluctance to be an agent with a particular company should at a minimum cause a consumer to pause and move forward with caution.

Here are the questions you should be asking your current Florida insurance agent if you are with Citizens and you are sent a take out offer – before you decide whether to move your Florida home insurance from Citizens to the new take out company:

How long has it been in business? Has it ever handled Florida hurricane claims before? If so, how many customers have filed complaints against that company for inadequate customer service.

How financially strong is the take out company? What are its financial ratings? How diversified is the company’s policy base across both Florida and other states? Are the policies being assumed by the take out company in North Central Florida, or in hurricane ground zero along the South Florida coast?

If your agent is not willing to become a new agent of one of the take out companies, that alone should be a warning sign to you. By taking this position, your agent is risking the loss of the commission your policy. Find out from your agent why they don’t want their agency to accept an appointment with the new take out company. The answer your agent gives you, might tell you everything you need to know about whether you should accept the offer from the new take out company.

Last but not least, ask your agent if there are any other Florida home insurance companies who might want to cover your home. The private home insurance market in Florida is always changing and there might be other companies now covering homes like yours that are a lot more stable.

Don’t forget, if you don’t bother to investigate these take out insurance companies, you will be the one that could be living with an unpaid claim after the next Florida hurricane.

Insurance Companies Listings and Ratings Guide For Insurance Agents & Brokers

Here is the newest, revised version of the best insurance companies listings. These are compiled in a top 100 ratings guide format. The listings are in alphabetical order helping insurance agents & brokers locate an insurer. Find out how your opinion compares. How can you possibly rate an insurance company? I will mention briefly the various ways, show you the method I is used for this article, and why.

BY NUMBER OF AGENTS

This ratings guide listing method evaluates the insurer by the sheer number of insurance agents & brokers currently licensed and under contract. with carrier. I feel this evaluation to be worthless for a multitude of reasons. First of all there are a number of career health and life insurance agencies that have thousands of representatives. However, of these,up to 80% of the total agents are relatively new in attempting to establish credibility in the industry. Four years down the line only 6% of many an insurance company agency force will maintain enough production to stay career representatives.

Moreover, my findings uncover inaccuracy of this method due to licensing renewal process state insurance departments impose on the insurer. Most state departments of insurance send the renewal report forms on a yearly basis. There is a fee to be paid by each ins agent renewed. What makes it difficult is the variation of different paperwork procedures by individual states for removing non-active ins reps. The paperwork consists of costly, time consuming forms and procedures for the insurance company to make any changes. Renewing all the sales representatives is often cheaper, and thus the route the insurer frequently takes. This also gives the insurance company bragging rights to how many sales people write for them.

Personally I was shown in state insurance department records as licensed for 11 years after I wrote my last case.

INSURANCE CO FINANCIAL RANKING LISTINGS
There are four or five top independent firms that employ this insurer rating of a company based on a multitude of financial factors. A lot has to do with projecting the financial stability of the insurer. This is accomplished by closely dissecting past and present financial history. It covers how the insurer investments perform, and the rate of return. An insurance evaluation also takes in consideration the amount of cash on hand, and how much exists in reserves to pay present and future claims.

There is a consensus among life insurance association members into believing that the highest rated insurers are the best of the bunch. Yet association members make up less than 12% of the total producer base. The other insurance agents and brokers, (the majority), do not agree that these are always the best ones to use for their client’s needs. Logic tells you that a newer quality insurer does not have past history to start out top ranked. In my situation, clients bought what I presented them. Nearly half the time it was NOT the highest rated company by the rating firms. I however sold the client what their emotional needs demanded. Many past insurance companies with rankings in the best 100 later financially failed, and still frequently do in today’s world.

BY RANKING OF PREMIUMS COLLECTED

This is a very common type of insurance company listing & ranking to produce. Insurance companies are rated by total number of premiums they collected that year. It seems rather unfair to mix annuity premiums in with all dollars collected. Producers know it is easier to sell a $20,000 annuity than a $20,000 premium term insurance policy. The other fault I find with using total premiums collected is with who actually contributed a chunk of the premiums collected. With some companies an enormous amount of these premiums were not collected by the average sales person. A lot of institutional buyers directly bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of annuity premiums.

BY RATINGS IMPORTANT TO HEALTH & LIFE SELLERS

This is my way. As fair and balanced from an sales representative perspective as feasible. Premiums are collected from the 1,500,000 agents, trying to make a living by selling insurance policies in this industry. Often these sales are done one by one. Plus, of this 450,00 independent brokers, semi-independent agents and some career reps write, depending on which company, 50% to 100% of that insurance co business.

This rankings method is imposed because I find the insurance companies listing is intended to be a beneficial directory. One that independent brokers, semi-independent representatives, along with some career reps can turn to. This is a guide directory to other insurers that you may consider writing production for.

The insurance companies listing and ratings guide to the top 100 is purposely placed in alphabetical order instead of by premium or financial data. You may not agree completely with the listing, because we have left in some companies with a strong percentage of business sold in annuities, and investment products.

In the eyes of a typical health and life broker, this guide is of health and life insurance companies is about as accurate as possible.

1. Aetna 2. AIG Life Insurance Company** 3. Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America 4. American Family Life Assurance Co of Columbus 5. American Fidelity Assurance Company 6. American General Life and Accident INS Co** 7. American General Life Insurance Co** 8. American Income 9. American Memorial 10. American National Life 11. Americo Financial Life And Annuity 12. Anthem Blue Cross 13 Aurora National Assurance 14 Aviva Life and Annuity Company 15. AXA Equitable 16.Bankers Life and Casualty Company 17. Banner 18. Beneficial Life 19. C.M. Life Ins 20. Colonial Life & Accident 21. Columbus Life 22. Conseco Life 23. Farmers New World 24. First-Penn Pacific 25.Forethought 26. General American 27. Genworth 28. Gerber 29. Great American 30. Great-West Life & Annuity 31. Guardian 32. Hartford Life and Accident Ins Company 33. Hartford 34. Homesteaders 35. Indianapolis Life 36. ING 37. Jackson National 38. John Hancock 39. John Hancock Life Insurance Company USA 40.. Kansas City Life 41.. Lafayette 42.. Liberty Life Assurance Co of Boston 43.. Liberty National 44.. Life Ins Company of North America 45. Life Ins Company of the Southwest 46. Life Investors Ins Co of America 47. Lincoln Benefit 48. Lincoln Heritage 49. Lincoln National 50. Massachusetts Mutual 51. Metropolitan 52. Midland National 53. Minnesota Life 54. Monumental Life 55. MONY – America 56. MONY – New York 57. National Guardian 58. National Life 59. New England Life 60. New York Life Ins and Annuity Corporation 61. New York Life 62. North American Co for Life & Health Ins. 63. Northwestern Mutual 64. Ohio National Life 65. OM Financial 66. Pacific Life 67. Penn Mutual 68. Phoenix Life Ins 69. Primerica 70. Principal 71. Protective 72. Provident Life and Accident 73. Pruco 74. Prudential – America 75. Reassure America 76. Reliance Standard 77. ReliaStar 78. Riversource 79. Security Life of Denver y 80. Standard 81. Stonebridge 82. Sun Life and Health 83. Sunset 84. Surety 85. Symetra 86. Transamerica 87. Transamerica Occidental 88. Trustmark 89. U.S. Financial 90. Union Central 91. Union Security 92. United Healthcare 93. United Ins Company of America 94. United Investors 95. United of Omaha 96. United States Life 97. Unum 98. West Coast 99. Western and Southern Life 100. Western Reserve Life Assurance Co of Ohio Note: Sagicor Life, Foresters, and Illinois Mutual should appear on the bottom 3 listings, replacing the companies listed above as #6, 2, and 7.

**AIG Life Insurance Company, American General Life, American General Life and Casualty Comments

This group of companies USED to be one the highest premium generating, and highest ranked insurance companies in the United States. Still, after two massive Federal Bailouts, the future is uncertain. Therefore, AIG Life is no longer deserving of being on this top 100 list guide.

GUIDE TO QUESTIONABLE LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY LISTINGS

The following insurance companies listings often could be included in different types of some top 100 Life ins company rankings IF you were evaluating premiums written. Sometimes the premiums consist of considerable amounts of annuity premiums. Also counted in would be insurers where a large portion of sales do not come from representatives and sales people. Instead it is written by security stock brokerage firms, and independent broker-dealers of variable investment contracts not governed by insurance departments. In other cases, products may be directly strictly toward teachers, the military, or credit unions. In a couple cases, there are companies with pending litigation. A representation of this mix of insurers is listed below:

1. Cuna Mutual 2. Genworth Life and Annuity 3. Harford Life and Annuity y 4. John Hancock Variable Life 5. Mayflower National 6. Metlife – Connecticut 7. Metlife Investors USA 8. MML Bay State 9. Nationwide 10. Nationwide Life & Annuity 11. NYLife of AZ 12. PHL Variable 13. Sun Life Assurance Co of Canada 14. Teachers Ins and Annuity Assoc of America 15. USAA 16. Shenandoah — financial difficulties

There is a grand total of over 600 Licensed Life/Health Companies “active” in every state of the United States. However, some are not currently writing new business. In addition, there are many active in only one or a few states, so you will find them missing from the top insurance company listings. Most states have a true actual listing count of 220 to 330 life and health home offices currently accepting new cases from licensed agents & brokers.

Advisor’s predition. If I choose from the provider listings above, Foresters would be my top pick as the next rising star. Its innovative niche products are starting to create a high demand. Also watch Genworth, its stock value has zoomed and the company is very adaptive to market opportunities.

Insurance Company Complaints – Who Are the Top 10 Companies With the Least Number of Complaints?

The New York State Department of Insurance (DOI) just released the 2008 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints. The report has been issued to help consumers find the automobile insurer that best meets their needs. You can use this report to compare the ranking of the insurance company you are doing business with now, or check another company you may be considering.

This report analyzed data collected from 2006 and 2007. It only ranks companies doing business in the State of New York. However, as New York is a heavily populated state, with both big urban centers and big suburban areas, the report can be considered a good representation of insurance company performance nationwide.

How The Ranking Works

The insurance companies are ranked on a complaint ratio. The ratio is calculated by the number of complaints upheld against companies as a percentage of their total private passenger auto business.

Insurers with the fewest upheld complaints per million dollars of premiums are shown at the top of the list. The companies with the highest ratio of complaints are ranked at the bottom.

Other Information to Consider

The ranking of an insurance company is important, but it is only one characteristic that consumers should weigh when considering doing business with an insurance company. Others are:

o Referrals from friends, relatives, neighbors or co-workers about the experiences they had with their insurance companies
o Price of the premium versus perceived value
o Search the Internet for other ideas
o Check your state’s DOI website, which may contain valuable consumer information about companies doing business in your state.

What The Ranking Does and Does Not Contain

o Private passenger insurance is the only type evaluated.
o It only includes the complaints referred by consumers to the DOI. It does not include complaints made directly to the insurance companies.
o Complaints are “upheld” when the DOI agrees with a consumer that an insurance company made an inappropriate decision.
o Information from prior years is included in the tables so consumers can see if the company has improved or gotten worse.
o All companies with at least $10 million in premium in 2006 and 2007 are included in the ranking. Insurers with less than $10 million were included if they had 10 or more complaints against them.

Top Three Most Common Complaints

1. Monetary settlements – settlement amount is too low.
2. Policy terminations
3. Promptness of insurance payments

2007 Auto Complaint Listing (ranked lowest number at top, higher as you go down)

1. Mercury General Group
2. American Express, Amex Assurance, IDS Property Casualty
3. Eveready Insurance Co.
4. Electric Insurance Group
5. Amica Mutual
6. Preferred Mutual Insurance Co.
7. United Services Automobile Assurance Group (USAA)
8. Chubb
9. Utica Mutual
10. State F*arm
11. Central Services Group, Central Insurance Group, NY Central Mutual Fire Ins.
12. Main Street America Group, National Grange Mutual
13. Progressive
14. Liberty Mutual
15. Kingsway Insurance Group, Lincoln General Ins.
16. Response Insurance Group
17. Nationwide Insurance
18. American Modern Ins. Group, American Family Home Ins.
19. St. Paul Travelers
20. Unitrin Group, Kemper
21. Erie Insurance Group
22. Berkshire Hathaway Insurance, GEICO
23. Allstate Insurance
24. The Hartford Insurance Group
25. Hanover Insurance, Citizens Ins., Allmerica Financial Alliance
26. Metropolitan Group
27. American National Financial Group
28. Allianz Insurance Group
29. GMAC, Integon, MIC P&C, National General Ins. Co.
30. Zurich Ins.Group, Foremost, Maryland Casualty
31. Hannover RE Group, Clarendon National
32. State Wide Insurance
33. White Mountains Group, OneBeacon, Esurance, Auto One Ins.
34. Countrywide Insurance
35. Safeco Insurance Group
36. American International Group (AIG)
37. Tri-State Consumer Ins. Group
38. Interboro Mutual
39. Infinity Property & Casualty
40. Long Island Insurance

Conclusion

If your auto insurance provider is not shown on this list, it could be that they don’t sell insurance in New York. Or, it could be that their number of complaints is worse than the company in the #40 position!!

Think about this statement, my friends.

The only thing that truly matters about your auto insurance is what happens when you submit a claim. Claims are about KEEPING PROMISES. When the insurance companies don’t keep their promises, the complaints pile up!

So, why would you EVER consider doing business with any insurance company LOWER than NUMBER 10 on the list?

If you are one of the unfortunate people who experience an automobile loss of any kind, you’ll need to know how to handle your insurance claim so that you maximize your recovery. I’ll even be so bold as to say this: If you do not use the strategies for submitting a claim found in my book, you will not collect all the money you are entitled to collect. You will need to know how to take control of your insurance claim, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to your claim settlement. For more information, check out the website shown below in the Resource Box.