Earlier this month, the Portland Press Herald reported that Maine homeowners are experiencing the second-largest home insurance premium increase in the country. It’s no coincidence to receive this news at the same time that Maine endured more severe weather, including a historic heat wave and a rare tornado watch. In 2023, northern New England experienced eight weather-related catastrophes, instead of the average of four or five. This year, in the aftermath of historic severe winter storms and a powerful late-spring Nor’easter, the price hike is no surprise. Still, it’s a hard fact to swallow when Mainers are grappling with the rising costs of living, from food to medications to rent — and everything in between.

Before I go on, I want to reassure readers that Maine continues to have some of the lowest average homeowner insurance premiums in New England and the country: $1,322. The anticipated increase will change the average to $1,571. While rates have increased, Maine still has a competitive insurance market. For comparison, the average rate in Louisiana is $6,000; whereas, it’s $11,000 in Florida. Also, the quarter of Mainers who will likely see their premiums increase may not have to pay the higher premium for another 18 to 24 months, depending on when they renew their policies, which typically have 12-month terms.

Throughout the winter and spring, I have met with business and homeowners across the district, especially in Ocean Park, Old Orchard Beach, and Saco. I have listened to your stories, seen the damage firsthand, and shared in your heartbreak and pain. As the chair of the Legislature’s Health Coverage, Insurance, and Financial Services Committee, I am committed to working with the Bureau of Insurance, private homeowners, insurance companies, and others to ensure that Mainers can prepare for — and protect themselves from — steep increases in their home insurance premiums.

At the state level, the Bureau of Insurance receives requests from homeowner insurance companies to raise rates. Due to more frequent and more severe storms, the companies are asking for higher rate increases. According to the Maine Emergency Management agency, Maine has averaged one emergency disaster declaration each year since 1970, but Maine has already requested two declarations for 2024. (And it’s only June.) Another factor is the large increase in cost of labor and materials, started during the pandemic. At the same time, we know that the price of a home has surged in Maine. In May, the median home price of $398,250 set a new record.

In the meantime, there are a few ways to reduce your premiums. Start by shopping around. You can work with your insurance agent or broker to see if there are more affordable options with other insurers. After that, consider increasing the deductible on your policy. If possible, reduce the coverage, which is the percentage of your replacement cost. Finally, check with your agent or broker to see if any discounts are available, such as bundling your auto and home insurance policies.

As you continue to rebuild and recover from the storms, please remember that I am a resource for you and your family. You can contact me directly at Donna.Bailey@legislature.maine.gov or call my Senate office at (207) 287-1515. I would be happy to hear from you, and I will do my best to help.

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