Friday, June 8 2012 7:16 AM EDT2012-06-08 11:16:36 GMT
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Homeowners are seeing their home insurance rates skyrocket here along the Grand Strand. Experts recently answered questions at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center about why thoseMore >>
Homeowners are seeing their home insurance rates skyrocket along the Grand Strand. Experts recently answered questions at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center about why those rates are climbing.More >>
Tuesday, August 30 2011 8:23 PM EDT2011-08-31 00:23:42 GMT
Although Hurricane Irene spared the Grand Strand major damage, many people along the east coast are now learning if their insurance covers all of the damage they have seen from Irene.More >>
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - What would you say if someone told you you're wasting hundreds of dollars every year protecting your home from a disaster? More importantly what would you do? The company now insuring your home is hoping you won't do a thing.
Let's take a closer look at something most insurance companies don't want you to see: how they operate, and why the decision to drop you may have nothing to do with you or your home.
About the time the Northeast gets a handle on the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, you'll be getting your insurance renewal notice, and if history is any indication, your premium will go up.
In fact, half of us are already paying a lot more for homeowners coverage than we have to. And what's the reasoning for that? Your ideas about homeowners coverage are outdated.
We are now in the age of the billion dollar disasters like Hugo, Ike, and Katrina. But it was Hurricane Andrew back in 1992 that finally convinced insurers it was time for an overhaul.
Hundreds of thousands of homeowners were dropped. Insurance companies began refusing to even cover coastal areas like the Grand Stand. And yes, premiums sky-rocketed.
"We were always with Allstate from the time we bought this," says longtime Myrtle Beach homeowner, Lenny LaBlanc.
LeBlanc was one of those old school insurance customers who learned the hard way.
"I've always stayed with a named company, until now," admits LeBlanc. "[My premium] more than doubled about four years ago and then was going up every single year. And in my case, They also insisted I keep my cars with them."
LeBlanc is among a growing number of smarter homeowners. Customer loyalty for him is right where insurance agents will tell you it should be...in the toilet.
"There's no loyalty on the part of companies to the customer either," says Jenny Taylor, an independent insurance agent in Pawley's Island. "They have to do what they have to do to protect themselves."
To that end, Farm Bureau chose not to renew thousands of customers in South Carolina this year. Allstate did the same to another 10,000. They seemingly dropped home insurance policies out of the blue, not because the homeowners were high risks, but because they are low priority in the insurer's latest financial strategy.
Angela Chandler is an agent who represents dozens of carriers for hundreds of customers.
"Cancellations, rate increases, all of these things could be merely a company decision, not necessarily anything to do with the client themselves individually," Chandler insists.
And she says there's no way to protect yourself.
"It is not your parent's insurance anymore," says the Acting Director of the South Carolina Department of Insurance, Gwen Fuler McGriff.
McGriff oversees the licenses of some 900 companies that write homeowners insurance. Only a tenth will even write policies in coastal counties like Horry County. But that still means you have about 90 choices. Ninety companies just waiting for you to compare their rates with your current company.
Afraid of signing up with an insurance company you've never heard of? McGriff says they wouldn't be here if they didn't prove their worth.
"When we're looking at licensing a company we're looking at their financials, their financial rating and how they conduct business in the state before they're licensed," McGriff explains.
Now that the 2012 hurricane season is coming to an end, use this opportunity to shop your coverage. How many of you will discover you've been spending hundreds more than you have to each year?
"Maybe 50 percent," says Taylor. "Yes, that is huge. And people just have to be aware of what they're looking at."
Insurers will still access your risk. Without exception, that risk assessment, or "clue" report will determine how low they can go with your premium. There are four specific kinds of claims that will send insurers running the other way, and push up your premiums for years to come.
They begin with dog bite claims. Even having a dog can bump your premium.
Also, liability losses. When someone falls on the front walk, your premium costs will do just the opposite. They're headed up.
Fire losses are a huge red flag to insurers, and finally theft losses tell insurance companies, if it happened once, it will likely happen again.
There's another trick some insurers will pull to determine your value as a customer. It's called the "drive-by." Agents are asked to physically check up on the properties they insure. If it doesn't look kept, it might not be worth insuring.
If you haven't taken a look at your homeowner's policy in a few years, chances are you're throwing away a lot of money, and worse, you're not getting better coverage for it.
Thursday, April 24 2014 11:26 PM EDT2014-04-25 03:26:19 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - April 25 marks the anniversary of Brittanee Drexel's disappearance. Her family is planning a vigil tomorrow night for the missing teen. WMBF News Reporter Stephanie Robusto talkedMore >>
April 25 marks the anniversary of Brittanee Drexel's disappearance. Her family is planning a vigil tomorrow night for the missing teen.More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 10:54 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:54:12 GMT
SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A WMBF News crews saw authorities remove a car from a Walmart parking lot after responding to a shoplifting incident. Authorities arrested the shoplifting suspect at the WalmartMore >>
A WMBF News crews saw authorities remove a car from a Walmart parking lot after responding to a shoplifting incident.More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 10:48 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:48:35 GMT
CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Grant Holmes' future is fairly certain, but the destination? Still unknown. When you can touch triple digits on a radar gun though, people take notice - and he could be selected asMore >>
Pitching prospect is projected to be taken early in upcoming MLB Draft.
Thursday, April 24 2014 10:45 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:45:45 GMT
COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) - In a press release issued by the state agency, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control warns the public of a fraudulent phone caller posing as a health departmentMore >>
In a press release issued by the state agency, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control warns the public of a fraudulent phone caller posing as a health department employee seeking private information.More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 10:44 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:44:03 GMT
HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Checkpoints will be held throughout the county in an effort to reduce drinking and driving-related car crashes. According to a press release, law enforcement officials and theMore >>
Checkpoints will be held throughout the county in an effort to reduce drinking and driving-related car crashes.More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 10:42 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:42:48 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Florence native Reggie Sanders spent 16 seasons in the big leagues, before retiring after 2007...but he's still plenty involved in sports today, and will be taking his golf gameMore >>
Celebrity golf tournament to help benefit multiple charities this summer.
Thursday, April 24 2014 10:37 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:37:51 GMT
GEORGETOWN, SC (WMBF) - Several new storefronts and buildings are opening doors for business and hosting ribbon cutting ceremonies for the public. According to the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce,More >>
Several new storefronts and buildings are opening doors for business and hosting ribbon cutting ceremonies for the public.More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 9:47 PM EDT2014-04-25 01:47:03 GMT
FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) Florence County said buying four new fire trucks is going to lower taxes. Improve response times and make up for a lack of manpower. The Olanta Fire Station is gettingMore >>
Council members of Florence County said buying four new fire trucks is going to lower taxes. Improve response times and make up for a lack of manpower.More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 9:44 PM EDT2014-04-25 01:44:45 GMT
MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - A HAZMAT situation is underway at Wachesaw Plantation East on Riverwood Drive. Several emergency crews are on the scene working to assess the situation, according to Gary MocarskiMore >>
Five patients were transported to area hospitals after too much chlorine leaked into a pool at Wachesaw Plantation East on Riverwood Drive. More >>
Thursday, April 24 2014 8:59 PM EDT2014-04-25 00:59:27 GMT
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The head of Coast RTA has been running the area's only mass transit system for nearly 10 years now. And for nearly 10 years, he has had to endure the wrath from an army of criticsMore >>
After 10 years as CEO of Coast RTA, Myers Rollins points to a significant financial and operational turnaround under his tenure, while critics lambaste him for several missteps. WMBF investigated the controversy brewing at the Coast RTA to see who's getting thrown "Under the Bus"More >>