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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 12:10pm

Insurers Seek Higher Rates

Georgia homeowners are likely in line for another round of rate-hikes on their insurance premiums. Several of the state’s largest insurers are asking the Department of Insurance for rate increases.

The main factor driving higher homeowner’s insurance premiums is the state’s violent weather in recent years. This April’s destructive tornadoes that swept through large swaths of Georgia are the latest example.

The largest writer of homeowner’s policies in Georgia is State Farm, which wants a 7-percent increase in rates for next year. Since 2010, the insurer has hiked rates equal to 20 percent.

State Farm’s Justin Tomczak says there’s no way around it.

“The cost of doing business and paying those claims has definitely been going up. And that’s a trend we’ve seen for the last several years.”

Tomczak says the last few years State Farm has paid-out more in claims than premium money taken in.

Mary Ellen Nikol with the non-profit credit counseling agency CredAbility, says homeowners have some options on how to attack rising rates.

“One is that they’re able to combine it with another insurance policy for a true bundle discount, and the other is looking closely at what your policy covers.”

According to the most recent data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average Georgia homeowner pays $750 annually in insurance.

Financial counselors say in order to combat increases, homeowners should look at bundling policies for discounts.

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