12 OYS: State Farm insurance accused of deceptive rate hike, says homeowner

News 12 at 6 o'clock / August 6, 2014

MCCORMICK COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- It happened in a flash.

"There was about a 60 mile per hour wind that came along the lake," said Jerry Clontz.

Next thing, Clontz heard was the tree that fell on his carport, causing nearly $6,000 in damage.

"This tree had already been damaged from the ice storm," Clontz said.

When he tried to file a claim with his State Farm insurance agent. He got another surprise.

"By the way. Your deductible is $2,000. No my deductible is $1,000. Mr. Clontz it's $2,000," Clontz said.

In actuality, nearly $950 more.

"I said I didn't approve any change like that. Matter of fact, I have never seen any piece of paper that has anything like that on it," Clontz said.

He wrote his senator and the South Carolina Insurance Commission. Both told him State Farm did not violate any law or regulation with how they notified him and that it is a common practice in the industry to notify customers of deductible hikes, simply by it showing up on their next policy renewal.

Clontz wants that to change.

"They're looking at how much they are liable to in case of damages, and they're wanting to reduce that but they don't want to ask people so they just slide it in," Clontz said.

Senator Shane Massey also responded to Clontz saying he may try to introduce legislation which would require insurance carriers to get customer approval before making changes to their policies.

"They changed my deductible without me knowing it. Without me approving it. You know if I sent them a little letter saying I'm going to change something. They would have to approve it before it went into effect," Clontz said.

Meanwhile, Clontz is planning some changes of his own.

"State Farm will lose more out of this than I will. I have a number of pieces of insurance I was going to bring their way that I will not bring their way, and I will discontinue this plan," Clontz said.

We literally took a magnifying glass to his policy, and nowhere in writing does it say his deductible was going up. South Carolina's Insurance Commission says companies are not required to notify customers of rate changes. However they do have to report potential rate increases to the commission.

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