Several car insurance companies now offer consumers all-in-one insurance policies combining everything from auto to home insurance. The convenience and ease of single-policy coverage proves worthwhile when it comes to paying insurance bills, renewing policies and ensuring continuous coverage.
Typically, home and auto insurance are not offered within the same policy. But various insurers are utilizing these new, more comprehensive insurance policies in order to grab back market share from auto-only insurers, which have gained momentum in recent years. About a third of all property-casualty premiums come from auto insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
One-policy packages can eliminate the hassle of paying multiple bills, remembering multiple expiration dates and sometimes even paying multiple deductibles. Car insurance companies like writing these policies because they generally require less paperwork and cut overhead operating costs.
Many new all-in-one packages include not only greater choice in coverage levels, but also advanced protections such as guaranteed home replacement or identity theft reimbursement. Technological advances and increased catastrophe rates have raised consumer concerns regarding these issues, so many are now choosing to plan ahead and prepare for the worst—just in case.
"A much greater percentage of the population is accumulating more assets and have less time to manage" insurance, says Noel Edsall, director of product development with MetLife Auto & Home.
MetLife began testing its new all-in-one policy, "GrandProtect," in Oregon, Tennessee, Minnesota and Arizona in March of this year, and is now rolling it out in Ohio, Illinois and Rhode Island. The company expects to offer it in 19 states by the end of the year and nationwide by 2007, according to Edsall.
Some car insurance companies are also gearing one-policy offerings toward wealthier clients. Allstate's more comprehensive "Encompass" policy covers secondary homes, jewelry, boats, furs, stamp collections and fine art. Purchasing this coverage usually requires policyholders to own homes with market values ranging above the national average—which translates into clients with more disposable income. The average premium for this package policy runs a whopping $2,950 annually.
All-inclusive policy advantages touted by car insurance companies include one bill, one renewal date, one effective date and sometimes one deductible. But as reflected above, cost can sometimes outweigh these benefits.
One-stop insurance policies may represent a wave of the future; if so, mainstream cost savings might be in store down the road. But for now, consumers should shop around, comparison shopping between prices for separate policies and those for more comprehensive, all-inclusive ones before opting for one of these new, single-policy packages, says J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA).
"Companies always err a little bit on the high side when they first introduce a product to make sure they have enough premiums coming in," he says. "It could well be that when you shop around and get the prices separately…you may still be able to do better [elsewhere]."