The Easy Way to Shop for Insurance
By Diane Tait
Can Your Home Eat You Out of House & Home?
Business Boom or Bust
If you own a boat and a named storm rolled through town and your boat was swept away from its mooring, turned turtle in its dock or your trailer sailor was crushed by a fallen limb where it’s parked, do you have sufficient coverage to repair or replace it? What would happen if your vessel was out on the water and it dragged anchor only to ram another vessel? Are you prepared to pay to repair or replace a vessel other than your own? Are you sufficiently insured to cover any lawsuit resulting from any injury suffered on or due to your boat?
If you own or lease a car, own your own home or business, or just want your family to have peace of mind in our ever more complicated world, you undoubtedly have some form of insurance. That’s because failure to carry insurance can cause you to take a financial hit which could possibly wipe out your savings or even require you to file for bankruptcy. That being said, determining what type or how much insurance you should carry can prove to be a complicated not to mention a frustrating task. Before you waste a lot of time trying to determine how to protect your assets, I thought I’d take a few minutes to give you some food for thought.
Can Your Home Eat You Out of House & Home?
When most homeowners purchase insurance, they do so with the thought of covering their domicile from the wrath of God or an unexpected fire or burglary. While fire, flood, wind, and rain can cause significant damage to a home, what can cost a homeowner even more is liability. Think about it. What would happen were a friend, a relative or a total stranger to get injured while on your property? Would they simply shrug it off, or would you soon find yourself being served with a lawsuit? How much would it cost you to defend yourself in court? Would you be able to keep a roof over your head if the jury were to award the injured party several hundred thousand dollars in damages? Do you even know the liability limits on your homeowner’s policy? Last but not least, when was the last time you discussed your limits with your insurance agent? If the answer was “Several Years ago,” you may not be adequately protected.
Do you own or have an interest in a business? Even if you run a business from your home, there are several issues you need to assess in order to keep your business afloat. Especially in Florida, the hurricane capital of the US, inclement weather can wreak havoc on any business. If your business were to be flooded, do you have sufficient insurance to replace all the furnishings and office equipment you now own? If the business was shut down for a month or more, how would you pay your staff? What would it cost you to restart your business months later?
Has Your Ship Come In?
Who are You Going to Call?
When you need to assess your insurance coverage or make a change, is the process easy or hard? How many calls do you have to make and how long do you have to wait on hold while your call is routed from one department to another? The bottom line is if you have to wade through a an automated system to have your questions answered and your insurance coverage updated, you should probably consider shopping for a new agency. Here are the top-10 things you should look for to make shopping for insurance easier:
1. An agent you can talk to immediately. You should be able to reach your agent without having to wade through a complicated voicemail system.
. 2. Getting a quote should be quick and easy. In today’s wired world, any capable agency should be able to point and click their way to a quote on every insurance product they represent. You should also be able to shop for better rates with the same agency for different insurance products.
3. Your agent should be able to tell you about discounts for various insurance products, as well as suggesting ways for you to bundle insurance policies to save even more.
4. Technology being what it is, your agent should be able to tell you how to use technology to save money. This should include everything from autopayments to electronic devices that can be used to measure your driving habits and/or protecting your property.
5. You should be able to receive your insurance documents in real time. By that, I mean you shouldn’t have to wait days to give or receive documents via mail. You should be able to email or fax documents to your agent and have your agent email documents back to you while you’re on the phone.
6. You shouldn’t have to ask your agent to shop your policy around to see if you’re getting the best deal. He or she should automatically do so before you renew any policy.
7. How hard is it to add a new driver to your auto policy or to cover a new employee in your business? If you move, how much information do you have to provide to your agent to make sure that all your insurance products transfer to your new property? If you have to waste a lot of time to make changes to any of your policies, you need to find a new agent.
8. If you want to earn a little extra income by renting out a room to vacationers or by using your car to become a taxi or delivery driver, does your current insurance agency have the experience and knowhow to make a second job seem less like forced labor? The same holds true if you wish to start a business in your home.
9. As they say, size counts. While you want to work with an agency that has enough agents who specialize in various types of insurance coverage, you don’t want to work with one that’s so big that you’re treated like a number.
10. You should be able to ask for your agent by name. When you call your current agency, do you call the office only to be shuttled to whoever is working the phones, or can you call your agent directly? There’s nothing better than having an agent that knows you and your situation and who has a direct line you can call. Because when you need to ask a question or address a concern, there’s an easy way and a hard way to shop for insurance.
Diane Tait owns and operates A&B Insurance. To find out more about how you can save money on insurance, go to her site or fill out the form at right.