I've been in the insurance industry for over 18 years...I started when I as 5...
During that time up to today, I've seen changes which affect you and I as policyholders. There are important facts that I feel consumers should be aware of.

TREND #1...Carriers are using and collecting more and more of our personal information to calculate your premium and even your insurability.  For example, the largest insurer in the nation  is also the largest collector of information other than the Federal Government. They, like most other carriers, use this info to calculate how much insurance they feel you should pay. Long gone are the days when your motor vehicle history was the only component a carrier used when deciding your premium fate. For the past several years, carriers have been upgrading their outdated quoting models with ever more sophisticated programs which use household indicators to identify, collect and organize your personal info in order to determine what type of risk you look like to them. You remember the novel 1984 by George Orwell where the government knew all about you, even your thoughts?  That scenario is more and more becoming a reality not only with government but with insurance companies.
    Carriers know your income, your credit history, if you're a homeowner, how many and what type of claims you've filed, whether you've filed a bankruptcy, ever had a dui or any civil judgements against you. Scary.  However, carriers do not know all this information because the quoting program issues a score the score generates your final premium. 
    For example, even if you have had a clear driving record your entire life, you could still not be eligible for their preferred rate based on your consumer report. You do not even need to provide your social security number for the carrier to be able to find your consumer report.
    Similarly, the same household indicators are used to determine your homeowners and even your business insurance risk profile. This information is used to determine your business insurance premium as well as if you are eligible to purchase optional endorsements.
    For example, I quoted a retail store in Cary and couldn't understand why the system would not allow me to quote more than $100,000 of equipment and inventory coverage. I hadn't even enterred the owner's social security or tax id# yet the system automatically performed a profile which included financial information and declined to offer more coverage based on that info. I learned later that the owners had just returned from market where they purchased the majority of their inventory for the holidays, so their credit charges were at a higher than average limit. I requoted the store 6 months later and they were able to obtain their desired coverage limit.
    Anyhoo, in this case their premium was not adversely affected so much as the amount of coverage available to them.
    Have you heard of or used Sales Genie or Info USA or similar databases? For a fee you can check personal or business credit worthiness, income as well as other info. So, its no surprise that insurance carriers are also using this info to assess risk.
    Other information that carriers use to determine your premium is claims activity. Unfortunately, even if the activity is not your fault, it will very often still appear on your personal database. Carriers can and do use no-fault activity in determining eligibility and premium. For example one of my national A-rated carriers will not offer full coverage to anyone who has had two no-fault claims inthe last 3 years. Why is this and why should no-fault activity be a factor? The reason is that carriers assume that if you've had several no-fault incidents, this is a result of your behavior which possibly contributed to the event.  They assume that you pose certain risk factors which make you more susceptible to activity. For example, if you are not paying full attention to the road when you are driving and you brake suddenly. This causes the vehicle behind you to rear end you. It is still not your fault, however, you may have contributed to the accident.  Almost anyone who has rear ended someone can understand this..
    I can't tell you how many times people who rear end others believe it is the other persons fault entirely. Even if the person in front of you is swatting at the kids or chatting away on their cell phone and going 30 in a 45-DO NOT ride their fender. It will be your fault if you rear end them when they suddenly brake.
   In fact, most accidents are rear end collisions. Unfortunatley, if you are the victim and the other party's liability pays for your damage and medical, the accident may well appear on your database. One no fault accident may not hurt your database, however, several in a few years may be a definite factor in how much you pay for auto insurance. 
   By the way, if you think you're paying too much for auto insurance here, North Carolina ranks 7th lowest in auto insurance premiums.

TREND #2...The role and relationship of the agent to the carrier.
Until about 8 years ago, the agent has a lot of leverage in the decision making process. For example, if an insured had a run of bad luck, filed a few high pay-out claims, the carrier would consider the agents opinion and background knowledge about the client in order to place them in a better risk group or insure them at all. The agent usually has personal knowledge of the circumstances which contributed to the activity. Underwriting would rely on the agent's assessment of the risk and base their decision on that personal knowledge and opinion. This would especially be true if the client paid on time, had other coverage or had been non-problematic for several years.
    Now, the agent's role in the decision making process is limited. We can still make suggestions, advocate on behalf of our client and plead with underwriting. However,the agent rarley  has the power to change a non renewal decision once underwriting is complete. This is just one reason it's beneficial to utilize an independant insurance agent/broker. An independant broker works for you, not the carrier,and works to find you the best fit at the best price. It's also important to have an advocate on your behalf, when unpleasant things happen. Always chat with your agent before deciding to make a claim, buying a dog who's breed has a history of bite issues or having a pool installed, for example.
TREND #3...Large deductibles. Years ago it was common to have a $250 homeowners deductible and a $50 auto insurance comp and/or collision deductible. Today, as we know, filing small claims is not wise. Not only will you save money by increasing your deductibles, you'll be viewed as a better risk. I advise clients to choose the highest deductible they can afford in the event of a loss. And on homeowners, the deductible should be proportionate with the risk. It just doesn't make sense to have a $500 deductible on a $500,000 home. I carry a $2500 deductible on my home because i know i won't be filing a claim on anything less than that.

I hope this information truly helps you as a policyholder and consumer.

Warmest, Elona Duell