Steven Weisbart, senior vice president and chief economist with the Insurance Information Institute, says such bundling isn't "forced" because consumers have a choice.

"You can walk. You're free to go," Weisbart says. "The market is and remains highly competitive."

Insurance providers that require bundling do so as a marketing strategy to build stronger ties to customers, Weisbart says.

"The more contact, the more relationships you have with a provider, the more likely you are to stay with that provider, to feel good about being with that provider," he says.

But Allstate dropped tens of thousands of customers in North Carolina. Surely, that's not good for business?

"It's possible to be too successful," says Weisbart, adding that some insurers want to reduce their exposure in certain areas. If a company sells all the homeowner policies in a region that's then hit by a disaster, the company could be devastated.

"Many of them truly are assessing whether they are too concentrated" and need to spread their risk, he says.

Bundling isn't bad — if it's voluntary. In fact, you can usually save 10 percent or 15 percent off your annual premiums by getting auto and homeowner's policies from the same place.

But mandated bundling isn't good for the consumer who wants to shop among insurers for the best deal on different policies. Legislators here should pass the bill so Marylanders can maintain their right to choose.

eileen.ambrose@baltsun.com

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