5 On Your Side

Homeowner's insurance too high? 'Shop around, you might be surprised'

Posted September 10, 2014 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated September 11, 2014 2:20 p.m. EDT

— When was the last time you shopped around for homeowner's insurance? If it's been years, you might be paying too much.

A Garner couple reached out to 5 On Your Side to share their huge savings. They cut the cost of their annual policy by more than half.

It's all related to 5 On Your Side’s ongoing investigation of “consent to rate” letters that most homeowners will get form their insurer as their policy comes up for renewal. The bottom line is: if you haven't compared prices recently, you need to.

Joe and Paula Fox of Garner said they have paid Nationwide for homeowner’s insurance for years and never had a claim. In 2007, they signed a consent to rate form, not fully understanding it gives an insurer the ongoing OK to raise rates above the state-approved cap.

A 5 On Your Side investigation found the decades-old law was intended for high-risk customers. But now, a growing number of insurers are using it to bypass the rate change process.

“We originally started at $813 a year when we first signed our mortgage,” said Paula Fox.

Over the years, it has more than doubled, according to the Foxes:

  • 2008-09: $966
  • 2009-10: $1,370
  • 2010-11: $1,441
  • 2011-12: $1,564
  • 2012-13: $1,913
  • 2013-14: $2,090

“You feel cheated is what you feel,” Paula Fox said. “We finally got fed up. We paid a visit to a competitor.”

“We got the first round of quotes, and then we went to (Nationwide) and we’re like, ‘What’s going on?’” said Joe Fox.

The other quote was more than $1,200 lower. The Foxes took it back to Nationwide, and their agent beat it.

“I was thrilled at that. Then again, I was mad. Why couldn’t you have done this before?” she said.

Their initial bill of $2,090 is now $768 for the year – less than they paid nine years ago.

"You don't pay attention to it. It is what it is. You pay it and you go on, especially when it's part of escrow,” Joe Fox said.

“They're there to make their money, too. It's a business,” Paula Fox added. “Shop around. You might be surprised."

The Foxes also increased their deductible – a move that can save money. WRAL’s Monica Laliberte also shopped around after getting a “consent to rate” letter from a company she has been with for decades. Her annual savings was $785.

Consumer advocates say people should shop around every three years at a minimum.

Consumer Reports: Readers rank insurance companies

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