THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY IS PROFITING, BUT ARE YOU? MAKE SURE YOU ARE PROTECTED

The Insurance Industry is profiting, but are you? Make Sure You Are Protected

You have seen the lizards, famous actors, squirrels, and cavemen on television. You have heard the slogans --- "You're in Good Hands With Allstate," "Nationwide is On Your Side," "Like a Good Neighbor State Farm Is There." They have become synonymous with each company's product: insurance. The insurance industry can afford the expensive mass market ad campaigns due to record high profits.

National statistics just released from the Insurance Information Institute reflect all-time high profits for the property/casualty industry (home and auto insurance companies). Although government reports reflect that insurance companies are paying less to settle claims, they are charging customers the highest premiums in years. This combination has resulted in 2006 profits of sixty-billion dollars. Yes, that is billions, not millions.

Although 2004 and 2005 were busy years for property loss claims due to historic numbers of hurricanes, the insurance industry reported record profits those years as well. Consumer advocacy groups who monitor the insurance industry say it is pretty simple to figure: insurance companies are overcharging consumers for policies, paying less on claims, and finding ways for the government to absorb some of the losses typically covered by insurance (such as those due to terrorist acts).

Despite insurance companies paying sixty-one billion for the 2005 Hurricane Katrina losses, they still experienced record profits that year in part due to increases in homeowners premiums for those living in coastal areas. These premiums (along with those collected for auto, general liability, and workers compensation insurance) are invested in the stock market which has been robust in recent years and paying insurance companies high returns on their investments.

While the insurance industry is enjoying record profits, you need to protect yourself by being sure you are carrying sufficient insurance to protect you, your home, your belongings, your autos, and your family. In the event you do experience a loss for which you must file a claim, do not bankrupt yourself and your family by not carrying enough insurance to make you whole. Many times, even if you are not at fault, the at-fault person has no insurance.

Make an effort to meet with your agent at least once a year to discuss coverage for both your home/personal belongings and your cars. Determine the maximum premium you can afford to pay so that you can get the best policy coverage possible. Take a look at your Declarations Page with your agent. This is the document that lists your coverages. Obtain quotes on the dollar amount it would cost you to increase your coverages. It is imperative you purchase un and under insurance coverage to protect your family.

Many people believe they will not ever have to file an insurance claim, so they buy the minimum amount. Do not let someone sell you the notion that policies that meet North Carolina mandated minimum limits are enough protection. They are not. Additional coverage above minimum amounts can be purchased. It is not too expensive to increase what you already are paying for more insurance coverage. The additional money will be money well spent due to the purchased maximum coverage available in the event you do have to file a claim.

The insurance companies are enjoying peace of mind --- make sure you do, too.

Frances Knox is an attorney in the Charlotte office of Knox Law Center. The firm's website is www.knoxlawcenter.com. Opening soon is the newest office in Denver located at Hwy 16/73- Waterside Crossing. Frances Knox can be reached at 704-315-2363 or 866-704-9059 (Toll free) or fknox@knoxlawcenter.com.