Property Insurance:

Data Needed to Examine Availability, Affordability, and Accessibility Issues

RCED-94-39: Published: Feb 9, 1994. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed several issues regarding property insurance in urban areas, focusing on: (1) the types of data that are currently collected for determining the availability and affordability of property insurance for urban homeowners and small businesses; (2) the types of data needed to assess these issues if available data are not adequate; and (3) options for collecting data on homeowners insurance.

GAO found that: (1) most of the data collected from insurance companies are not useful for determining the availability and affordability of homeowners insurance in urban neighborhoods because data are aggregated at geographical levels that are too large; (2) insurance companies do not collect data to analyze insurance accessibility issues; (3) some companies will begin gathering homeowners insurance data in 1994 and 1995 by homeowners' ZIP codes; (4) insurance companies do not collect separate data on the availability, affordability, and accessibility of property insurance for small businesses; (5) although some states have requested insurance data by ZIP code, interested parties have to rely on anecdotal evidence and industry-sponsored surveys to evaluate the availability of property insurance in urban areas; (6) there are advantages and disadvantages of aggregating data by ZIP code or census tract; (7) options for collecting data on homeowners insurance include requiring insurance companies to report statistical data at the ZIP-code or census tract level, or accessibility-related and other data that are not currently collected; and (8) regulators need to consider the ease of implementation and volume of data before implementing any of these options.

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