What does your agent do for you?

So the agent you hire, yes you actually hire an agent since a piece of the money you pay to the insurance company is paid to the agent, What do they actually do?

They gather your information and type it into a computer.  Then they hopefully come up with a competitive rate for whatever insurance you are looking for.  Next, they hopefully make it easy to place the coverage with the new company.  Now hopefully somewhere in there they think, that’s right they actually think about you, your home, your cars, etc and help you make a good decision.  An agent should actually ask you questions and not just about numbers.  Here are a few;

Does the color of my car affect my insurance rate? NO*

I have no idea why this question comes up so often.  Not sure where it started, not sure why it would matter.  Either way I was finally asked and it hit me to run a small, non-scientific experiment.

Step one; I asked a transportation professional, this guy Tommy Scott is way more than just a car salesperson, for two Vehicle Identification Numbers(VINS).  In this case it will be the new and exciting Chevy Cruze.  He provided me with two VINs for IDENTICAL vehicles where the only difference is the color.  For our experiment we have a red and a silver Cruze to compare.

Why you insure at replacement cost not purchase price

So many people like to buy investment properties some even expand and develop a full portfolio.  One thing they have in common is not paying full price.  Now the investor buys this property to see two things occur; The property appreciate and the monthly cash flow it should bring.

So many times when you are not buying a traditional home insurance policy you have a little more flexibility with the replacement value of the home.  One key to remember is you need to rebuild a structure that you can rent for the same money you were receiving before it was damaged/destroyed.  You do not need to build the same exact home remember this is a money making venture.  Let’s rebuild a structure that can earn money.

Who are you buying from?

So when buying insurance you can buy from;

Direct; You call directly to the insurance company, just about every company has this option available.

Agent; Similar to buying direct you are calling directly to a company but speaking with an agent of the company.  Think State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, etc.  Definitely a step up and many times this produces a positive result.  On the plus side you SHOULD be getting a human being that  has a vested interest in your policies, happiness and rate.  On the negative, more times than not they only have one company available.  So if rates go up aw well, if you need an insurance they do not offer aw well.  There is also the inherent problem that you have an agent trying to earn a living.

So your rate went up, now what

Don’t panic, somewhere a rate has gone down we just need to find it.  So here are some steps;

  1. Call you current carrier and make sure everything is accurate.  Like it or not unchecked rates go up, let’s just make sure no mistakes occurred.
  2. So we know your policy is correct, now make sure you are getting all discounts you can
  3. Now we check on your annual mileage***typically 8000 or less per year gets a savings
  4. Have you done a driving or other applicable safety course your state allows?

So you want a lower rate…

  • Improve your credit score…huge factor can make a bad driving record irrelevant
  • get a college degree…it helps but not everyone
  • own a home/condo..helps a lot and gets a multi-policy savings
  • take a defensive driving course..boring but profitable
  • make a point to review ANNUALLY
  • Know the value of your car…Do you still need physical damage coverage?
  • Be loyal to a good agent not a company….nuff said
  • take higher coverage…you’ll look better when shopping

Insurance has been commoditized set your coverage plan than your rate!!!

Do you really need a billboard if you are so good?

So I was driving down a pretty well trafficked road that I use pretty regularly.  The difference is that yesterday I noticed two large billboards for Geico.  Now this is a company whose rates, service, website, etc. are supposedly excellent.

Are you overpaying or being overcharged?

My guess is you are likely overpaying.  What’s the difference?  Overpaying can be thought of as allowing your policy, regardless of type, to renew year after year after year without checking in with your agent or company.  In that case most companies gradually allow an unchecked policy to go up in rate and likely not keep up with the needs of the owner.

Do you have an office?

Yes I do, one at home and one in a nice space in Wappingers Falls.  Do I need an office? That is debatable.  Do you need me to have an office? Not really.  How often have you gone to your insurance company or agent’s office?  My guess is not often since there is no need to go.

This is not me advocating for the Internet just me trying to make a point.  The Internet is a wonderful thing, meeting people in person is even more wonderful.  Does the meeting have to take place in an office?  NO!

If the weather people are right…

You may want to read this.

So supposedly a Nor’Easter is making it’s way up the east coast bringing 3 inches of rain and maybe some snow.  So in the event it gets here and you or a friend has some problems that may mean an insurance claim here are some tips:

1. It is your job to try and limit the loss once it occurs.  Do the best you can to tarp over any damaged parts of your home.

2. The coverage you have is for your house and other buildings and structures.  If trees and branches fall in your yard you will likely not have coverage for the clean up.