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A Toulon insurance agent says this is the hardest market in 40 years. Here's why

John Leezer
Leezer Agency
John Leezer

John Leezer has been selling insurance since 1982 when he joined his father’s independent insurance agency in Toulon, the Stark County town some 40 miles northwest of Peoria.

“The insurance market is generally viewed as either hard or soft. Right now, it’s the hardest I’ve seen in 41 years of selling insurance,” said Leezer.

“The effects of inflation, storms, labor and supply shortages as well as increased litigation have contributed to the insurance industry’s poor loss experience,” he said. Repair rates on both cars and homes are up 30 percent over what they were three years ago, said Leezer.

“There are 12 Illinois insurance companies no longer accepting new business and some others are getting out of certain lines of business such as rental properties,” said Leezer.

A big factor in the rising costs involves the insurance that insurance companies take out to cover damages from hurricanes and major disasters—known as reinsurance, he said, adding that those rates have also risen.
Increased rates from reinsurance carriers set off a ripple effect across the insurance industry, he said. Some reinsurers have even left the market, said Leezer, pointing to 17 Illinois insurance companies he knew of that don’t have a reinsurance contract for 2024.

In the face of these higher costs, Leezer suggested consumers review their insurance coverage. “Meet with your agent to see what changes are right for you. You might consider cutting back on some coverage and taking more of the risk yourself,” he said.

Other suggestions from Leezer: Keep your insurance record clean by paying the small claims yourself. Also keep maintenance up on your home.

Don’t cut back on liability limits but take advantage of discounts that might be available such as paying for a full year up front, said Leezer.

Steve Tarter retired from the Peoria Journal Star in 2019 after spending 20 years at the paper as both reporter and business editor.