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How Insurers Determine Your Premium: An Interview with Craig Conley of MetLife Auto & Home

By Craig Conley

Tell us a little bit about the companies you represent and their foundation.

MetLife Auto & Home® is the trade name for Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and its subsidiaries. Established in 1972, Met P&C® is one of the nation's leading personal lines property and casualty insurance providers. Subsidiaries of New York-based MetLife, Inc., the MetLife Auto & Home companies' administrative home offices are located in Warwick, Rhode Island, and collectively hold licenses to operate in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. MetLife Auto & Home insures nearly 4 million autos and homes countrywide. I also am appointed to represent Metropolitan Life Insurance Company of New York, NY for the sale of life insurance and annuities. MLIC was founded in 1868 and is also a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc.

I personally specialize in providing insurance policies and other products that meet the personal, and business protection needs of my customers, working with not just MetLife Auto & Home, but also with other third parties through our insurance agency, MetLife GASM - Property & Casualty.

What are some of the services your companies provide?

MetLife Auto & Home offers a comprehensive suite of personal insurance products. Those include, but are not limited to, auto, home, personal excess liability, boat, camper, condo, landlord's rental dwelling, renter's, and other product lines.

In addition to personal lines, MetLife Auto & Home has an independent agency, which provides its clients with access to additional "A" rated1 personal lines carriers as a one stop shop. MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Agency, Inc., also provides commercial insurance to its business clients. Those products include general liability, commercial auto, special events, worker's compensation coverage, and more.

MetLife's vision of being the leading global life insurance and employee benefit company guides the company's response to people's growing need for first-rate financial products and services through various life stages and economic cycles. MetLife's trusted brand, capital strength, and existing relationships with millions of individual and institutional customers around the globe uniquely position MetLife among its competitors.

MetLife Auto & Home's A ("Excellent") financial strength ratings, current as of 2014, is the second highest among nine levels and reflects A.M. Best Company's independent opinion of our companies' financial strength and ability to meet their ongoing insurance policy and contract obligations. The ratings are based on a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative evaluation of our companies' balance sheet strength, operating performance, and business profiles.

First off, what is the definition of an insurance premium?

By definition, an insurance premium is the cost to a consumer paid in exchange for the insurer's promise to indemnify the insured upon the occurrence of a covered loss, as defined in the policy. It is what is paid in exchange for the transfer of risk.

What factors do insurance companies use to determine your premium?

Many factors are considered in determining an insurance premium. Various companies use many of the same factors, by law, and many proprietary factors, by choice. In North Carolina, all auto insurance companies must use the Safe Driver Incentive Program (SDIP). It is a grid that dictates what insurance companies must charge for certain accidents and violations. (For additional information you can visit:

Additionally, companies have different underwriting philosophies. Company "A" may be looking for, and ultimately rate better, a lower risk. Company "B" may be more of a high risk provider and target, through premium, people who do not have perfect driving histories.

Factors that are often used in auto insurance rating include insurance scores, of which credit may be a factor. Marital/civil union status, as opposed to being single, ownership of multiple vehicles, college education, length of time insured, length of time driving, and home ownership versus renting are also some of the many factors that could impact one's premium.

Life insurance premiums, of course, consider different factors, such as predicted longevity and historical health.

Why is my income not a factor in this process? Isn't my income level important?

Generally speaking, however, one's financial responsibility has been used since the 1970s as a method of determining many things. In the insurance world, it is considered predictive of personal responsibility and relevant to projected losses. As opposed to credit history, one's income level can be considered forward looking, as well as somewhat volatile, and for those reasons it may not paint the most accurate picture with which to assess the risk assessing. It is also best to understand that there are always exceptions to the rule; but, insurers use a law of large numbers concept to validate the methods being used to accurately and fairly offer a particular product at a particular price.

Why do insurance companies make it nearly impossible to qualify for the lowest premium?

This is not really true; in many instances insurers are required to offer the prospect the lowest premium for which the applicant qualifies. Qualification for rates and discounts involve many factors, as stated above; so, by nature it is very difficult to hit all of the factors at the best possible level. The best rates are reserved for the best perceived risks. Since insurance is not a monopoly, the consumer is free to shop among many different companies seeking the best premium. However, consumers should be careful to also compare coverage and service, because all carriers are different.

I would caution the least expensive premium is one form of making a purchase, but many other factors should be considered by the consumer before buying. Those would include: a local agent, company rating, consumer rating, products available, ease and convenience of doing business, employee discounts, and many other considerations.

Is there any way to receive a reasonable premium with a low credit score?

I think that is possible; the best way to do that is to call an agent, such as me, who has the availability to shop the business with multiple companies. That process best matches up the risk with the company that has a favorable underwriting philosophy and that provides a competitive premium. It also saves the consumer time, as it can be arduous to call eight different companies as an individual.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

In today's world it is important to be accessible to your clients in the way that they might seek to communicate. Therefore, I am available by phone and e-mail, as well through my website and Facebook page. My website provides consumers with a quote request tool, which allows the secure exchange of information 24/7. My contact details are:

Craig Conley, Property and Casualty Specialist, LUTCF
MetLife Auto & Home®
201 Shannon Oaks Cir. Suite 200
Cary, NC 27511
Office (919) 481-2297
Cell (919) 749-5352
Fax (919) 882-8143

Life insurance is offered by Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 200 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10166MetLife Auto & Home is a brand of Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and its affiliates: Economy Preferred Insurance Company, Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company, Metropolitan Direct Property and Casualty Insurance Company, Metropolitan General Insurance Company, Metropolitan Group Property and Casualty Insurance Company, and Metropolitan Lloyds Insurance Company of Texas, all with administrative home offices in Warwick, RI. Coverage, rates, and discounts are available in most states to those who qualify.

The companies referenced in this material operate independently and are not responsible for each others' financial obligations.

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