- Q: What are the advantages to using an independent agent to purchase insurance?
A: By using an independent agent to purchase insurance, policyholders receive more personal service. An independent agent takes the time to listen to a policyholders’ entire situation, creating a level of comfort which becomes vital when purchasing a product and absolutely necessary when filing a claim. Independent agents work for their clients, not the insurance companies.
- Q: What factors should I consider when purchasing insurance?
A: There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing any product or service, and insurance is no different. Here is a checklist of things you should consider when purchasing insurance.
- Base your decision on value. This is more than simply the lowest price. The premium you pay should be compared to the claims and policy service, protection and advice you receive. Independent agents, and the companies we represent, deliver excellent value.
- Purchase the amount of liability coverage that makes sense to you.
- You should decide which optional coverage you want. For example, do you want optional physical damage coverage or is the market value of your car too low to warrant purchasing them.
- Once you have decided what you want in your insurance policy, you can now decide from whom you would like to purchase the insurance from.
- Q: What factors can affect the cost of my automobile insurance?
A: The type of car you drive, the purpose the car serves, your driving record, and where the car is garaged can all affect how much your automobile insurance will cost you. Even your marital status can affect your cost of insurance. Statistics show that married people tend to have fewer and less costly accidents than do single people.
- Q: Why does the driving record of members of my household affect my rates if they do not drive my car?
A: Auto policies are heavily regulated by the state you live in and most situations require insurance to pay no matter who drives your car. If the insurance company only had to pay for losses involving the listed drivers then they would only be concerned with the driving records of the listed drivers because all others would not be covered.
- Q: Suppose I lend my car to a friend, is he/she covered under my automobile insurance policy?
A: Whenever you knowingly loan your car to a friend or an associate, he or she will be covered under your automobile insurance policy.
- Q: If I drive someone else’s car and wreck it, does my policy pay for the damage?
A: No. Insurance follows the car not the driver. The insurance covering the car would respond to damages. Your policy may respond but only as excess over the primary insurance covering the car.
- Q: I have an older car whose current market value is very low – do I really need to purchase automobile insurance?.
A: Most states have insurance laws that require drivers to have at least some automobile liability insurance. These laws were enacted to ensure that victims of automobile accidents receive compensation when their losses are caused by the actions of another individual who was negligent.
- Q: Does my automobile policy cover me when I rent a car on vacation?
A: If you are vacationing in the United States or its territories, you will be covered for losses to a personal vehicle, such as a car, pickup or van (but not, for example, a motor home), and the broadest coverage on your personal auto policy carries over to the rented vehicle.
- Q: What is the difference between collision physical damage coverage and comprehensive physical damage coverage
A: Collision is defined as losses you incur when your automobile collides with another car or object. For example, if you hit a car in a parking lot, the damages to your car will be paid under your collision coverage.
Comprehensive provides coverage for most other direct physical damage losses you could incur, including theft, and flood. For example, damage to your car from a hailstorm will be covered under your comprehensive coverage.
- Q: What can I do to keep my auto premiums down?
A: Make sure you are getting all the discounts allows by your insurance company such as: Multi-Car, renewal, claim-free, good student, driver training, defensive driver course, anti-lock brakes, air bags, anti-theft device, and multi-policy discounts. Households with drivers having no tickets or accidents will be eligible for the best rates. Ask us how much you can save by increasing your deductibles.
- Q: What is homeowners insurance and who should buy this type of coverage?
A: Homeowners insurance is one of the most popular forms of personal lines insurance on the market today. For many homeowners, the purchase of their dream home is the largest financial investment they will make, and a homeowners insurance policy can be tailored to your specific needs.
- Q: What does homeowners insurance cover?
A: The typical homeowners policy has two main sections: Section I covers the property of the insured and Section II provides personal liability coverage for the insured. Almost anyone who owns or leases property has a need for this type of insurance. Usually, homeowners insurance is required by the lender to obtain a mortgage.
- Q: Where and when is my personal property covered?
A: Personal property (except property that is specifically excluded) is covered anywhere in the world. For example, suppose that while traveling, you purchased a dresser and you want to ship it home. Your homeowners policy would provide coverage for the named perils while the dresser is in transit — even though the dresser has never been in your home before.
- Q: Do I need a special insurance for a condominium or co-op apartment?
A: Yes. Insurance for condos and coops are different forms of homeowners insurance. They are designed to cover some of the unique exposures of this type of residential ownership. In a condo, depending on the coverage of the “master policy” of the building structure itself, you would in most cases be responsible to insure your own personal belongings (i.e. furniture, clothing, electronics, etc.) any and all improvements and betterments (permanent changes)you’ve made to the actual structure, i.e. new kitchen or baths, mirrored walls, ceramic floors, etc. You are insuring these for the actual replacement cost. On a coop, you are not responsible for insuring the inside walls themselves, but –like a condominium — on a coop and a condo, you can be assessed for losses that occur to the overall building coverage situations wherein the cost of repairs and damages are assessed against the individual unit owners, and coverage can be purchased to limit monetary loss to these exposures.
- Q: What factors should I consider when purchasing homeowners insurance?
A: There are a number of factors you should consider when purchasing any product or service, and insurance is no different.
Here is a checklist of things you should consider when you purchase homeowners insurance.
- Determine with your independent agent what amount and type of insurance that you need. The coverage limit of your house should equal 100% of its replacement cost. If your policy limit is less than 80% of the replacement cost of your home, any payment from your insurance company will be less than the full cost to replace your home — you’ll have to pay the rest out of your own pocket. Also, decide if the personal property and personal liability limits are adequate for your needs.
- Again, using the expertise of your independent insurance agent, determine which, if any, additional endorsements you want to add to your policy. For example, do you want the personal property replacement cost endorsement, an earthquake endorsement or a jewelry endorsement?
- Q: What is the difference between “actual cash value” and “replacement cost”?
A: Covered losses under a homeowners policy can be paid on either an actual cash value basis or on a replacement cost basis. When “actual cash value” is used, the policy owner is entitled to the depreciated value of the damaged property. Under the “replacement cost” coverage, the policy owner is reimbursed an amount necessary to replace the article with one of similar type and quality at current prices.
- Q: What are some practical things I can do to lower the cost of my homeowners insurance?
A: There are a number of things you can do to lower the cost of your homeowners insurance. The easiest thing to do is get a comprehensive review of your policy and needs from your local agent. Another way to lower the cost of your homeowners insurance is to look for any discounts that you may qualify for. For example, many insurers will offer a discount when you place both your automobile and homeowners insurance with them. Other times, insurers offer discounts if there are deadbolt exterior locks on all your doors, or if your home has a security system. Another easy way to lower the cost of your homeowners insurance is to raise your deductible. Increasing your deductible from $250 to $500 will lower your premium, sometimes by as much as five or ten percent. Your independent agent will ask you about these during your discussion.
- Q: Why would I want to buy renters insurance?
A: If you live in an apartment or a rented house, renters insurance provides important coverage for both you and your possessions. Quite simply, if a fire destroyed the home you rented, including everything that belonged to you, where would you live, and how would you replace your belongings? A standard renters policy protects your personal property from fire damage as well as other perils. It can also shield you from personal liability. Anyone who leases a house or apartment should consider this type of coverage.
- Q: How does a renters policy protect my personal property?
A: A renters policy provides named perils coverage. This means that the policy only pays when your property is damaged or destroyed by any of the ways specifically described in the policy. These usually include:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
- Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current
- Volcanic eruptions (but this doesn’t include earthquake or tremors)
Renters coverage applies to your personal property no matter where you are in the world. This means you’re covered when you are on vacation as well as at home.
- Q: Why do some apartment complexes require tenants to have renters insurance?
A: Owners of apartment complexes buy insurance policies for their liability and to cover their buildings and personal property. However, these policies do not cover any of the tenant’s property or liability. By requiring their tenants to have renters insurance, the apartment owner is assured that the tenants will not mistakenly believe the apartment complex owner’s policy will provide coverage for a tenant’s property or personal liability. Although this type of requirement benefits that apartment complex owner, there are benefits to the renter as well. We recommend that you purchase renters insurance regardless of what your landlord requires.
- Q: What if I share my apartment with a roommate? Do we both need to have renters insurance?
A: Standard renter’s policies cover only you and relatives that live with you. If your roommate is not a relative, each of you will need your own renter’s policy to cover your own property and to provide you liability coverage for your own actions.
- Q: How much life insurance should an individual own?
A: “Rule of thumb” suggests an amount of life insurance equal to 6 to 8 times annual earnings. However, many factors should be taken into account when determining the right amount of life insurance for you and your family.
Important factors include:
- Income sources (and amounts) other than salary/earnings
- Whether or not you are married and, if so, what is your spouse’s earning capacity
- The number of individuals who are financially dependent upon you
- The amount of death benefits payable from Social Security and from an employer-sponsored life insurance plan
- Whether any special life insurance needs exist (e.g., mortgage repayment, education fund, estate planning need, etc.)
Calculating the correct amount of life insurance to buy is not as simple as it appears. We recommend contacting us for help determining the right amount of coverage. As independent agents, we are unbiased advisors that will help you avoid buying too much, show you appropriate optional coverage for your specific needs and recommend a company that will best serve your interests.
- Q: What about purchasing life insurance on a spouse and on children?
A: Life insurance on a non-wage-earning spouse is often recommended for the purpose of paying for household services lost due to this individual’s death, and in order to cover the cost of the funeral. It is also advisable to purchase life insurance on children to cover the cost of the funeral.
- Q: Should term insurance or cash value life insurance be purchased?
A: This is a difficult question — one whose answer will vary depending on your personal circumstances.
First, recognize that in any life insurance purchasing decision, two questions must be answered:
- “How much life insurance should I buy?”
- “What type of life insurance policy should I buy?”
The first question should always be resolved first. For example, the amount of life insurance that you need may be so large that the only way you can be afford is through the purchase of term insurance, since term insurance has a lower premium.
If your ability to pay life insurance premiums is such that you can afford the desired amount of life insurance under either type of policy, it is then appropriate to consider the second question — what type of policy to buy. Important factors affecting this decision should be discussed with your independent agent.