By Robert Williams


A more mild winter has home insurance claims down compared to 2023, but the big difference in 2024 is rates, according to United Community Insurance Agent Rita Stelzer.

“The companies are all taking hits; they’re having bad years,” Stelzer said.

Regionally, the past two years that saw multiple tornadoes pass through the area and the big increases in the cost of building supplies have dramatically increased overall costs that affect both homeowners and insurance companies.

“It used to be, you could replace a roof for $10,000-15,000, now it’s $30,000-35,000,” said Stelzer. 

To combat increasing costs, homeowners who can avoid filing non-catastrophic claims by taking on more of the risk themselves will benefit more in the long run.

“The way insurance companies work the claims and a lot of people don’t realize this is that they’re going to pay the actual value of the loss,” Stelzer said. 

Insurance companies take into account such things as age of shingles on a roof repair to calculate the value and the customer has to show if the actual cost exceeds what was already paid out.

“The holdout might be $7,000-8,000, but you have to prove that it’s actually going to cost that much,” said Stelzer. “You have to show what you actually paid to get that.”

“Pride in ownership is huge; if you can take care of things, don’t let things go,” said Stelzer. “It’s the same with your windshield, you see a little chip there…get it fixed, because in the long run you don’t have to have the whole replacement. You can just go in and insurance companies love it because they’re paying out 50-bucks, rather than $1,400.”

Customers receiving the annual renewals are seeing their rates have risen or their escrow has gone up, which is all based on rising taxes and insurance.

“We’re trying to be proactive by contacting our clients to see if there are things we can do to help lessen the blow,” said Stelzer. “A lot of it is deductibles.”

After 30 years in the business, Stelzer has seen deductibles rise from $100 to $2,500 as the current base deductible today.

The severity of claims over the past few years in this area has matched the same difficulties nationwide with increasing costs.

“It’s the whole industry,” Stelzer said.

Eight insurance companies that recently withdrew from Minnesota.

“There are all those policy holders that are scrambling to find insurance,” said Stelzer.

Companies taking on that extra group of customers have instituted restrictions like $5,000 deductibles or not taking on customers with prior claims.

Stelzer’s advice is to take on more responsibility at home and do not let small repairs turn into big repairs and expensive claims.

“Anything you can do to be proactive yourself and I think it’s really important for people to take on more risk because in the long run it’s going to be beneficial for them,” said Stelzer. “I think a lot of people have the mentality that they’ve paid into this for this many years; I should be able to use it. You can use it; it is there for that, but now the purpose for insurance is catastrophic. It’s not for the little things.”

Not everyone can complete home repairs themselves or do not have close relationships with people who can do the work at a discount.

“That can be a hardship because they don’t have the resources,” she said.

The same theory applies to vehicles when it comes to deductibles. Currently, base deductibles for auto coverage have risen to $1,000.

“What I tell my clients is there is nothing you can do for $500; there is not one claim that you will ever have that is $500 or less,” said Stelzer. “Taking those deductibles from $500 to $1,000 you can save $200-300 every six months. That’s a no-brainer.”

Customers also can control insurance costs by keeping good credit.

“Credit is a big factor when it comes to insurance,” said Stelzer.

Finally, communicating with your insurance agent is a must

“Communication is huge and that is one thing that we are striving for at our agency,” said Stelzer. “Just to go through and see what options and discounts are out there. There are also quite a few changes coming out with a lot of carriers.”

Instances like cosmetic claims for mild hail damage that would have included a full roof replacement in the past are no longer covered. There must be actual damage beyond looks.

“Things that they are now charging for that they didn’t; things they are excluding like cosmetic damage are huge – they’re not going to pay for that,” said Stelzer.

Agents can also inform of new laws that affect both the industry and customers.

Minnesota recently passed a law that every homeowner is going to have an automatic premium on their policy for watercraft liability.

If you or your family are on a boat and get injured, you can collect on your homeowner’s policy now up to your full liability limit.

“There are a lot of new things that are happening that you need to talk to your agents about,” Stelzer said.

Rita Stelzer can be located on 122 West Main Avenue in Frazee and reached at 218-334-6551 or