Citing increased costs associated with weather-related risks in Texas, Farmers raised rates an average fifteen percent (15%) for all of its Texas Family Home or Next Generation Homeowners policies. State Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman has decided not to block the rate increase, which marks the second time Farmers has increased premiums on its Texas policyholders.
Jerry Hagins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Insurance (“TDI”), said Texas law only allows TDI to disapprove rates when they are excessive, unfairly discriminatory or inadequate. Alex Winslow, of Texas Watch—a consumer advocacy group, argues the new premium hike is excessive and TDI Commissioner Kitzman continues a pattern of favoring insurers’ decisions to increase rates. “She hasn’t met a rate increase she didn’t like, and Texas policyholders are the ones paying the price,” he said. “There is absolutely no justification for an increase of that size in such a short period of time.” In March 2012, Farmers increased rates by an average of ten percent (10%), which TDI also did not protest.
Luis Sahugun, a Farmers spokesman, pointed to the National Weather Service data that showed there were 1,341 severe weather reports in Texas through the middle of 2012, while there were 1,537 for all of 2011. He further noted Texas led the nation in tornado occurrences, with an average of 150 tornadoes between 1981 and 2010.
With Farmers raising rates, don’t be surprised if the other large insurance companies increase their rates as well. In short, expect to pay more to protect your homes.
In Thanksgiving-related news, State Farm noted Texas had the highest number of Thanksgiving cooking-related fire claims from 2007-2011 in connection with accidental fires resulting from deep-frying turkeys. “Frying the turkeys seems to be kind of a fad that took here 10 years ago or so,” said Mark Hanna, an Insurance Council of Texas spokesman. “More and more people have tried it instead of just sticking it in the oven, maybe found it was more exciting to cook it outside.”
Heather Paul, a spokeswoman for State Farm, stated that it’s easy to get distracted during the Thanksgiving holiday. “You’ve got people at your house, maybe you’ve got something going on on the TV, and it just takes a second for you to your back on it to have a fire be able to get out of control.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments respond to more than 1,000 fires involving a deep fryer each year, causing about $15 million in property damage.
If you plan on frying your Thanksgiving turkey this year, take a little time a watch this safety video with William Shatner. Mr. Shatner was burned using a turkey fryer in the past, so he knows all too well the importance of safety when turkey-frying.