Allstate, one of South Carolina's largest insurers, is dropping about 10,000 home insurance customers who don't have Allstate auto coverage, have older houses and insure their homes for less than $220,000.
The move comes after Allstate last year told 45,000 homeowners in North Carolina that it would not renew their policies unless they also had auto coverage with the company.
Dina Reed, 75, received a form letter last week from Allstate Indemnity Co. notifying her that she would be dropped. She lives in a 30-year-old house in West Ashley that's across from a fire station. She said she never filed a damage claim.
“It makes me furious,” she said. “It means that Allstate is insuring houses that aren't old; that's discriminatory. And they say they won't insure you because you don't have their auto insurance; that's discriminatory.”
Reed said she called the state Department of Insurance to complain. “They told me, 'They're not canceling you; they're just not renewing you.' We have no protection in this state.”
With about 140,000 homeowner policies, Allstate is the state's second-largest home insurer after State Farm, which has about 300,000 policyholders.
Allstate's new effort to cull home insurance customers differs from previous non-renewal waves. In the mid-2000s, some insurers pulled out of coastal areas over hurricane-damage fears, forcing tens of thousands of homeowners to hunt for new and often more expensive coverage.
This time, said Ann Roberson, spokeswoman with the Insurance Department, “There is no particular geographic concentration for those cancellations.”
Roberson said Allstate was directing dropped consumers toward a competitor, Coastal Risk Underwriters.
Tracy Owens, a spokesman in Allstate's regional office in Atlanta, said that only customers who fail to meet three criteria will be affected — customers who don't have Allstate vehicle coverage, have homes older than 10 years and don't carry at least $220,000 in coverage.
“It's a difficult decision” to non-renew customers, Owens said. “But we're doing things to try to remain financially strong for all of our customers.”
He had no explanation why the three criteria were chosen and how they make the company financially stronger.
State Farm, Nationwide and USAA are not doing any similar non-renewal campaigns, nor are they dropping customers who do not bundle their home and auto insurance coverage, officials with those companies said Tuesday.
Last year in North Carolina, Allstate said it would not renew about 30,400 homeowner policies, 10,500 landlord packages and 4,900 mobile home policies unless the customers had auto coverage by a certain date.
Months later Allstate sent similar non-renewal letters to about 4,000 customers in Arkansas. Maryland legislators tried but failed to pass a law banning the expulsion of customers for failing to bundle their home and auto policies with a particular insurer.
According to South Carolina law, insurers can't drop a customer who has filed a claim “resulting from an act of God,” but they can drop customers for any number of reasons as long as they give 60- to 90-days warning, depending on the time of year a customer takes out the policy.
That's what irks homeowners such as Reed.
“I always believed that if you paid your premiums and don't have a lot of claims, you're safe,” she said. “But it's not true.”
Reach Tony Bartelme at 937-5554.