Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today reminded Pennsylvanians to review, and possibly update, their insurance policies, including homeowners, auto and health insurance, and encouraged consumers to explore their savings options for the new year.
“In addition to new year’s resolutions, the beginning of a new year is also a good time to review insurance policies to ensure all policies are up to date,” Commissioner Altman said. “2020 was a year of turbulence and drastic change, so it’s important to make sure that all policies reflect any and all life changes, which can also provide an opportunity to identify savings that can be applied throughout the course of the year.”
Pennsylvanians that no longer commute to work, have changed jobs or are out of work, should call their auto insurance company or agent. Many insurers’ rates are based on annual mileage, whether a consumer commutes to work and the distance of the commute. If you are no longer driving to work, are driving to work less often or have a shorter commute to a different job location, you may be entitled to a lower premium.
Additionally, if an individual is driving less than before the pandemic, now might be a good time to enroll in a usage based / telematics insurance program. These programs record driving behaviors, such as when and how far an automobile is driven, how fast a consumer is driving, how hard brakes are applied and the rate upon which it occurs. Insurers offer these programs through a smart phone app or a device that plugs into the car’s diagnostic port. Consumers are encouraged to call their insurance company or agent to find out if they offer a usage based/telematics insurance program. If a consumer is already enrolled in this type of program and hasn’t had their driving behavior evaluated since before the pandemic, they should consider requesting a re-evaluation if they are driving less.
Most automobile insurance companies also offer discounts for safer drivers, safer cars, drivers with multiple types of policies, good students, and more. Taking a driver safety training course is an excellent way to keep driving skills sharp and can also earn consumers a reduced rate on car insurance.
For homeowners’ insurance, always be sure to shop around for both price and coverage. Prices for similar coverage can vary greatly among companies, and in some cases, the company offering the cheapest price might also be offering the least coverage. Many insurers offer a discount for having protection devices in your home, such as smoke detectors, a burglar alarm, a sprinkler system, dead bolts on doors, or security devices for windows. Some insurers offer discounts for smart home devices such as those that monitor water leaks. Some insurers also offer lower prices for things such as insuring your home and car with the same company.
Consumers may also consider choosing a higher deductible on their auto and/or homeowners’ insurance to lower their policy cost. However, the chosen deductible is what the insured is responsible for paying out of pocket in the event of claim.
Pennsylvanians that have health insurance coverage through their employer, should consider checking with their human resources department for any relevant discounts that could be applied. Many employers offer discounts for participation in health incentive programs, or a smoking-cessation program. In addition, many insurers offer discounts on local or national health clubs, saving money on membership costs for the individual, as well as their family.
Health insurance is still available through Pennie, Pennsylvania’s state-based insurance exchange. Consumers can sign up for comprehensive health insurance coverage through January 15, for coverage that begins on February 1. After January 15, Pennsylvanian’s that have lost their health insurance coverage because of a change in employment due to the pandemic, or any other reason, are eligible for a special enrollment period through Pennie. Navigators are available to provide free, un-biased assistance enrolling in coverage. Nine out of 10 Pennsylvanians who are currently enrolled in the health insurance marketplace receive financial assistance to pay for their monthly premium based on their income, and many also receive assistance to lower out-of-pocket costs like co-pays and deductibles.
Consumers with questions about auto, homeowners’ and health insurance may contact the Insurance Department Consumer Services Bureau by calling 1-877-881-6388 or at www.insurance.pa.gov.