COLUMBUS -- The Ohio Department of Insurance reports that homeowner rates offered by the state's top 10 insurers rose less than 2 percent in 2004 and automobile rates rose at 0.2 percent.
Both markets experienced their smallest increase in four years, according to a department press release.
According to the department's Property and Casualty Division, homeowners insurance rates rose 1.9 percent statewide in 2004 compared to 10.3 percent in 2003 and 18.1 percent in 2002.
The release said that State Farm, Ohio's largest home insurer with 22.6 percent of the market, dropped its rates nearly 5 percent while most other companies implemented small increases.
Over each of the past three years, auto rates have risen at slightly above 4 percent. In 2004, the average increase was only 0.2 percent, considerably less than the three-year trend.
State Farm, Nationwide and Erie insurance companies all decreased rates, according to the state. Other companies implemented small increases in the auto market.
Department analysts expect that 2005 rates will rise moderately. Increases in homeowners insurance can be attributed to building and materials costs and weather-related losses, while auto insurance increases are associated with new vehicle and repair costs, medical costs, and weather, the department said.
The state agency regulates and licenses about 1,740 insurance companies, nearly 180,000 agents, and more than 13,000 insurance agencies, and monitors the financial solvency of the insurance industry in Ohio.