With the exception of coastal areas, the outlook for auto and homeowners coverage is positive in Texas, according to a study conducted by the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas.
The IIAT Personal Lines Market Survey showed improved homeowners insurance coverage and slightly lower premium rates in 2006, well as lower or unchanged premiums for personal auto insurance, compared with 2005.
A coastal exception applies to both lines. The IIAT study found that property insurance along the Texas coast has become more expensive compared to 2005.
“Texas independent agencies report having access to more insurance companies this year,” said Robert Hempkins, IIAT president. “Coupled with a largely catastrophe-free year in 2006, this has created a competitive market that is good for consumers.”
A survey of 1,800 IIAT member independent insurance agencies has found that nearly 80 percent of agents surveyed report broader homeowners insurance coverage among standard insurance companies. With the broader coverage, which typically costs more, 40 percent of inland agents report lower pricing. Another 25 percent report pricing unchanged from 2005.
However, in coastal counties pricing is 10 to 20 percent higher than last year.
The survey also has found that agencies along the coast, including Harris County, reported greater difficulty placing business with standard insurance companies in 2006 compared to last year. Nearly two-thirds report greater difficulty while in all other areas of the state, two-thirds of agencies report having an easier time placing such business.
Forty percent of agencies along the coast and more than 50 percent in Harris County answered “no” when asked if they had access to more standard insurance companies this year compared to last. Throughout the remainder of the state more than 50 percent answered “yes” to that question.
More than two-thirds of agencies surveyed report premium rates for personal auto that are lower than or unchanged from last year except in coastal regions. Agents responding also said they are able to place less auto business in non-standard insurance companies, where rates are often higher.
IIAT member agencies are represented in all but 24 counties in Texas.
The survey is available online at iiat.org.