Allstate Insurance Co. plans to drop its controversial requirement that a tenant have someone on the premises 24 hours a day in order to qualify for a renter's policy in the District of Columbia, officials said yesterday.
Under a proposal presented by the company to the D.C. Insurance Department, Allstate would issue a standard renter's policy to applicants who may be gone from home regularly during the day but live in buildings with either a 24-hour security guard or a monitored burglar alarm system.
If a renter is to be absent part of the time and his home is protected by neither of those security measures, Allstate would write a renter policy with a deductible liability of no less than $500 for theft losses, compared with the standard policy deductible amounts starting at $50. (The deductible liability is that part of the loss that a policyholder absorbs before the company pays any benefits.) This special $500 deductible policy, however, would sell for 10 percent less than the standard policy with the smaller deductible figure, Allstate said.
David Rowe, an Allstate representative, said the changes will take effect June 7 if approved by the insurance department.
Tentative approval of the plan was granted yesterday by James Montgomery, the department's acting superintendent, who said he "agreed in principle" with what Allstate had proposed.
When the company's 24-hour occupancy rule was first disclosed in March, Montgomery expressed concern that it might unfairly discriminate against renters who work or attend school and therefore couldn't qualify for Allstate coverage. He called Allstate officials in to explain the requirement, which made exceptions for such things as vacations and nights out but prohibited coverage if the policyholder regularly worked or attended school during the day.
Allstate said the requirement was necessary because of high theft losses and low ceilings on rates it can charge for renter's insurance in the District.
The company, one of the giants in the insurance industry, has lost money for two years on its D.C. renter's insurance, covering loss or damage of personal possessions on an estimated 3,000 renter's policies, according to Rowe. He said Allstate was "spending $1.30 for every $1 of premium taken in" on renter's insurance in D.C.
A request to charge a higher rate for renter's insurance was denied because company rates already were at the ceiling allowed in the District, Rowe said.
Dozens of other insurance companies, which must comply with the same rate ceiling as Allstate, have continued to issue renter's policies to District residents without requiring them to have someone on the premises all the time.