Time for an annual review

Cleaning out some drafts I apparently never published, the paragraphs below(italics) were from February 2015.  Updates and comments in regular type.

Reviewing your insurance could be the most critical piece of personal finance.  Until the process can be automated it is on you and me to do it.  In this case, since it is just my insurance it is all on me.  I first wrote about this over five years ago.  If you searched the word “review”‘ on this site you would get several different takes.  Mostly coming from a variety of things that happened.  Here is a fresher look since my policies just renewed.  Yes, it actually happened just shy of three weeks ago and yes the paperwork has been on my desk since late December.

Why?  Well, the first thing you and I do is look at rates.  The home rate was about even and the auto rate went down.  Immediately I lost all urgency.  I also know that between my wife and I there are a handful of tickets and accidents that, like it or not, are still currently relevant to the rate.  You have to look at your rates.  PERIOD.  No, this does not mean to only shop on price, it just means you have to look at your price.  This is normal human behavior. And, like it or not, you have been conditioned by the industry to this.  BUT,  behind the scenes underwriting is tougher now than at any point during my 15+ years doing this.  We have begun to advise not canceling a lot of new property policies until we know any unplanned inspections have been completed.  Oh, and remember,  auto and home insurance + the U.S. consumer = commodities colliding.

Moving along to some detail;

AUTO:

  • cover the basics; name, address, drivers, etc. So disappointing that so much of this can be automated and pre-filled yet common apps fill it in an insurance quoting sites do not. This is basic stuff and the compounding time is huge.
  • Check the discounts, everything there that you thought would be? Tricky, tricky thing.  Discounts are not what they once were.  You are being “rated” more ways than you or I can count. Remember, asking is often the surest way to getting but, sadly, even if you get it, you may be disappointed.
  • Has your use of the vehicle(s) changed?  Fewer miles typically means lower rates. Telematics will replace this….but not until companies understand how to apply telematics.  Either way, mileage questions border on irrelevant.
  • Remember, a multi-policy discount can be substantial.  likely need to move both plans if shopping.  This may be the biggest flaw in the entire price shopping landscape.  Not quite fraud but certainly some ethical implications.  Multi-policy discounts are potential ENORMOUS. Not disclosing this to a homeowner who is doing an auto quote is a mistake.

HOME;

  • An escrow account is wonderfully convenient and very dangerous to your wallet.  Leaving just about any piece of your financial world unchecked is a bad idea
  • The compound effect is real and can have a profound impact on home insurance.  Sure, your coverage went up by a small percent this year but when it is 3-5 years later those percentage increases are magnified.  Pro-tip, many homeowners get a discount for something called “inflation guard” or similar.  Essentially, if you let us increase your coverage automatically we’ll “thank you” with a discount.  This often goes unnoticed but is important.
  • Where is your company flexible?  Some are with other structures.  Some with personal property.  Most aren’t with the main dwelling coverage.  Untapped but large opportunity for improvement here.  Not a full-on customization of a policy but certainly room here.
  • Fact is you are getting all sorts of coverage that look good on paper but really do not do much.  it is what it is.  Often said to older customers when comparing policies “Remember, there was likely nothing wrong with your home insurance from 20 years ago.  All these extras look nice but aren’t much….”  Google the insurance silos and this is another example of them not talking.  Lemonade did some funny writing on this as well.  This piece of coverage is overdue for an (r)evolution.

 

Your own diligence is huge.  Always has been likely always will be

Finding clever tools to help evaluate the replacement cost of your dwelling and your personal property is huge. This is a whole other topic and is a mess right now.  Lots of room here as well.  Don’t believe me?  Go look in your area at the price to BUY a brand new home.  Then realize that every property insurance company has a different version/idea of what that will cost to rebuild.  Many, or most of, will be laughed at by the builder.

 

 

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