by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Consumers are being warned that the cost of home or auto insurance could be going up.
In a one-on-one interview, the state's top insurance official said he's seeing a new trend: Insurance companies asking consumers to voluntarily pay more.
Make sure you read anything you get from your insurance company.
It may be asking you to raise your premiums without much warning.
When it comes to car insurance, Sarah Watson has stories to tell.
"Everything about me makes car insurance expensive for me. I'm single, I rent and I drive like a sporty car," she said.
She said she used to pay more than $200 each month. Now, she spends about $130.
"It's already too expensive for me," Watson said.
North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin is telling consumers to be careful.
He's in charge of setting the cap on insurance premiums.
He said companies typically ask him to raise the cap on auto insurance every year and homeowners insurance every few years.
He's noticing a new pattern.
Because of the recession and bad weather across the country, insurance companies aren't making as much money and, instead of hoping Goodwin raises the cap, which could be a long shot, the businesses are simply asking their customers to agree to pay more.
"They're finding themselves between a rock and hard place. They're either going to have to pay a lot more or lose their coverage," Goodwin said.
Goodwin tells consumers to read the mail carefully.
Some insurance contracts roll-over and your company may raise your rate automatically unless you say no.
He also said to compare prices every year.
"It's just smart to shop around," Goodwin said.
Don't assume you'll get a better deal choosing one company for all your insurance needs.
Watson said as much as she likes her company, "I probably would look around. I don't know how well I'd be able to find somebody that would work with me."
She wants to save money, even if it means changing gears.
NC's car insurance rates are the lowest in the south from Delaware to Texas. It's one of the seven lowest in the United States.