Insurance Journal reports that Allstate recently informed some 45,000 North Carolina customers that it will not renew their homeowners insurance policies unless they also purchase commercial or private auto insurance coverage with the company by Dec. 15.
Allstate says the move will enable it to better serve its 400,000 in-state homeowners. Minus the unbundled, of course.
Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, says the "Good Hands" people are simply cherry-picking the more lucrative customers who bundle their home and auto with the company.
He may be right. Presumably, the company has made no similar moves to jettison auto policyholders who insure their homes with other carriers. After all, home insurance is where the big bucks live.
Insurance Journal reader reaction was mixed. A sampling:
- "It is my belief that this action is a violation of more than (2) North Carolina insurance laws. First, it is considered an inducement … to buy their auto insurance through Allstate. Second, this action could be in violation of both North Carolina and federal 'Unfair Trade Practices.'"
- "Next they will require a life insurance policy to write a homeowners."
- "More carriers should follow their move across the entire country. If they did perhaps rates would level out and come down slightly."
- "I think it is entirely fair that Allstate is doing this. I don't think it's fair that State Farm insures a person's home while they have their auto with Geico or Progressive, neither of whom sell home insurance, which is the most difficult to buy."
Insurance bundling continues to be a bewildering mess for consumers. It's opaque, driven by introductory offers that quickly evaporate, making it well-neigh impossible to compare rates. While most of us do bundle our home and auto coverage, many if not most would save on out-of-pocket premiums by unbundling. That said, trust and convenience factors convince the majority of us to bundle, even if we know we could pay less if we didn't.
That said, in my view it's one thing for an insurance company to offer a bundled "discount" and quite another to drop policyholders for refusing to bundle. While I'm sure it makes sense to the Allstate number-crunchers, I'm doubtful they factored in the potential brand damage from this poorly timed move.
Have you or someone you know been served with this arm-twist ultimatum from the "Good Hands" folks? I'd welcome your thoughts.
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