Getting the best "deal" insurance is frustrating even to those
who make it their hobby. What will insurance customers do to get the best
product at the best price? Using a good consultant is invaluable to help
you wade through insurance jargon. Yet, there are also common sense things
everybody should do — whether you have some insurance experience.
In my view, one of the worst things today is online or direct mail insurance
sales because the person selling such policies has little insurance awareness.
I contacted companies providing insurance products through the internet
and direct mail and found that representatives selling products lack technical
expertise. Often simple questions confuse them. For example, I asked the
representative to telephone me to clarify "automobile medical payments"
coverage. He miserably lost. Not only did he not properly clarify coverage,
but he also presented incorrect facts.
Internet and direct sales approaches' key benefits are price and convenience.
However, there are exclusive agents and independent agents who can sell
at or below the internet or mail rates. The secret is you must locate
them. Indeed, internet convenience and direct mail is a factor. However,
this can be countered by email, fax machine, or visiting insurance brokers
or consultants' websites. Go ahead and get a quote from internet providers,
but don't buy an insurance policy before you've done your due
diligence, including comparing their policy scope and price to what other
insurance companies give.
How to find a decent insurance provider or agent? Yellow pages and local
newspaper ads are a perfect starting point. Referrals are also a way to
get names; however, you shouldn't put too much weight on someone being
referred to you, as mentioned earlier. It would help if you also interviewed
the individual extensively until they become your insurance agent. It's
a perfect place to mention a caveat. This article does not summarize a
few measures that will help you buy the best insurance policy for the
least amount of money.
It's unlikely because there are so many variables at stake. The circumstances
differ between individuals and companies. So what could be ideal for one
person's case isn't ideal for someone else's. Also, recognize
that insurance coverage can vary considerably from insurance to insurance.
Anything as necessary as "property coverage" involves virtually
infinite carrier discrepancies. I've spent my entire career learning
discrepancies in coverage, and it's just not possible to share my
insurance coverage experience in a few sentences.
That said, you can do things to get yourself better insurance policy pricing
and increased coverage. But understand that this will take some effort
from you. You will be able to save $500 by spending five hours working
on your insurance policy. That's $100 / hour for your time. Not too
bad a time-invested monetary return.
The other advantage of going through the process is learning new insurance
material. And more information is sufficient. Here are clear measures
you may take to reduce the insurance premium amount:
1. Prepare a summary of insurance coverages and limits of insurance that
you desire for each type of insurance policy you wish to purchase.
For instance, if you want to obtain competitive homeowner policy quotes,
develop a spreadsheet template that includes the following coverages and
limits of insurance:
- Coverage A (Dwelling)
- Coverage B (Other Structures)
- Coverage C (Personal Property)
- Coverage D (Loss of Use)
- Coverage E (Section II Liability)
- Coverage F (Medical Payments)
- Other Coverages Desired (i.e., Flood Insurance, Sewer Backup, Inland Marine, etc.)
The right starting point is to look at your current policies to check your
existing coverage and limits.
2. Contact various insurance brokers representing different insurance firms.
Include direct writers and independent insurance agents, and get quotes
from multiple insurance firms.
3. After receiving insurance proposals, it's time to start assessing
which insurance brokers and insurance providers are likely to have the
By now, you'll start feeling which insurance agent and company will
better serve your situation. Stuff like your initial contact with the
insurance provider, customer care, turn-around time, and pricing was all
part of your ultimate decision. You may also want to interview the agent
you're working in the future.
Questions for a prospective insurance provider include:
- How many years were you a licensed consultant?
- What's your "specialty" (most critical area), and why?
- Your weakest area? How do you handle this area?
- What can you give me other agents can't?
- Who writes insurance cover?
Many of the best agents make others write their covers and have a second
pair of eyes check their policies and have someone else sue if they write
- How relevant is your continuing education?
- What's your last class?
- What's your view on the insurance industry's future?
- Please send a brief overview of what it feels like two years from now.
- If I do business with you, who will manage my account — you, one
of your customer service staff, or someone in your office?
- What should I expect of you in the future?
- How much do you check my account?
- How do you handle renewals?
- What services would you have besides selling insurance policies?
- Provide ten of your happy clients' names and phone numbers.
- What's the easiest way to connect with you — email, mobile, fax, etc.?
- What insurance firms do you serve and their "A.M. Best's" ratings?
- What are the top five insurance firms based on premium volume?
- How well does your firm write my claims for insurance handling?
- What's their reputation?
- Are they "late payers" or "hard payers?"
4. Next, enter all details in your spreadsheet. At this point, you should
start eliminating insurance firms, limiting your option to two or three
insurance companies and their agencies.
5. Look further into the coverages.
Ask the insurance provider to clarify coverages that were quoted.
Ask what variations exist between your insurance quote and other insurance
Ask the insurance provider to define severe coverage limits and exclusions
that restrict or exclude coverage.
6. Choose the insurance company and insurance.
Don't have loyalty to your insurance company because they won't
have any to you.
7. After you receive your insurance plans, search them for delivery of
what you ordered.
You wouldn't believe how many mistakes I find in analyzing delivered
insurance policies over the years. In most states, you must read the insurance
plans by statute. This doesn't mean you need to have a clear understanding
of all insurance policy jargon. It means that you need to consider your
strategy in the same situations and with similar educational and career history.
Now that you know how to increase insurance coverage and insurance policy
pricing, the question remains:
- Can you take these steps?
- Based on my experience, more people say "no" than "yes."
Most people don't want to spend the time to get a positive result.
Others don't "like" insurance, and their new insurance plans
would rather ignore coverage and pricing. If you've bought this book,
you're more likely than the general public to pay attention to your
insurance policies. However, you may feel unfamiliar with the technical
aspects of insurance coverage or may not want to spend any personal time
enhancing your current insurance situation. If you explain this, there's
another alternative: employ a fee-only insurance agent.
Based on direct consumer input, I can testify that insurance consultants
play "the great equalizer in the insurance buying process."
Fee-only consultants do not represent insurance firms and work entirely
with their customers. There is no dual fiduciary liability conflict since
consultants have not signed contracts with insurance firms.
Insurance consultants will recommend any insurance firm that does the best
job for your particular needs. Some of the advantages of personal insurance
and business insurance clients using a consultant include advanced expertise
to gain more comprehensive coverages and gain cheaper premiums unbiased
second opinion of the existing insurance policy, including successful
agent and insurance provider.
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