Thinking of moving to Maine, retiring here, or buying a vacation place? Good news: many of the lifestyle perks that make the Pine Tree State such a desirable place to live — like copious amounts of open space and fewer natural disasters than other coastal areas — also make insurance more affordable, says insurance advisor Cale Pickford, AAI, an agent for Allen Insurance and Financial. “The cost of living and the quality of life really line up nicely,” he says. But because Maine’s market is unique and varies so much within the state, there are a few important factors to consider.
How will your insurance needs differ in Maine from other states?
Your needs won’t be that different. But if you’re moving to Maine, you can look forward to paying less than you do elsewhere. We have very low risk of catastrophic events like hurricanes, wildfires, and severe hailstorms, plus we have lower crime rates than other parts of the nation. Even in southern Maine — the most densely populated part of the state — we don’t have the same rate of car accidents because we have fewer cars on the roads. All those factors make this a desirable place for insurers to do business and ultimately impact the price you pay for your policy.
What are some common pitfalls that buyers should try to avoid?
If your insurer doesn’t regularly do business in Maine and isn’t familiar with the nuances of the local market or the differences between living in Portland versus, say, Fort Kent, you may end up paying more than you need to. An agent who is on the ground in Maine can point you to an insurer who regularly does business here and can offer policies that meet your specific needs and feel relevant to the local market. A local agent can also point you to people who you can count on when you need help. If you need repairs on your house, for example, he or she can offer a list of reputable local contractors. Maine is a bunch of small towns. Having that local connection can mean much better service.
How has the pandemic impacted rates?
It hasn’t had a widespread impact on personal insurance rates. But the pandemic has changed the way we live and work. For instance, we’re driving fewer miles, so there are fewer accidents and fewer claims. On the other hand, people are buying more boats, and there’s been this explosion in residential real estate, which has made it an extremely busy time for insurers. In some cases, routine transactions are taking longer than they usually would. So if you’re trying to meet a certain deadline — say, closing a mortgage — start talking with an agent as soon as possible.
Allen Insurance and Financial has offices in Camden, Rockland, Belfast, Southwest Harbor, and Waterville. 34 Elm St., Camden. 800-439-4311.