COLUMBUS -- Ohioans paid more to insure their homes last year, according to figures recently released from the state's Department of Insurance.
Homeowners' rates climbed by an average of 7.4 percent last year, while the biggest auto insurers raised rates by 2.6 percent.
The numbers were based on rates charged by the top 10 insurance groups that represent about 70 percent of Ohio's market.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that five of the 10 ordered double-digit increases in homeowners' rates last year, led by Columbus-based Grange's rate increase of 14.2 percent.
In the past six years, the largest insurers have boosted rates by at least 6.5 percent a year.
The state's insurance department attributed the changes in homeowners' rates to weather-related claims, and building and material costs.
"Certainly, the industry didn't anticipate or expect (the weather) to be as severe as it has been," said Charlie Edington, Grange's national product leader.
Edington told the newspaper that many of the company's policyholders have addressed increases to homeowners' rates by picking higher deductibles and making other changes that would require them to pay more of the cost of a damaged roof.
Changes in auto insurance rates were also associated with weather-related claims, in addition to medical costs, repair expenses and the number of cars on Ohio roads.
The state said Ohioans still pay among the lowest insurance rates in the nation, despite the bump in rates.
The most recent figures from 2011 compiled by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners show Ohio's average homeowners' premium was $652, compared to the national average of $968. Drivers on average paid $620, compared to $797 nationally.
The state's insurance director said Ohio's market gives consumers choice and competitive rates.
"With nearly 700 companies selling auto and homeowners' policies in Ohio, rates remain well below the national average, saving consumers more of their hard-earned dollars," said Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who heads the state's insurance department.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com