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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
> Check the financial > Shop around > Low price may or > Write down what
Ratings of insurers may not be the type of insurance
deciding factor features you want
Insurance agents and brokers can streamline your insurance purchases and become your ally if you run into insurance problems down the road.
The terms “agent” and “broker” are often used interchangeably, but is there a difference? Technically, an agent sells insurance from one insurance company, while brokers represent many carriers. An “independent agent” is unaffiliated with any particular insurer and represents a range of companies.
Do your homework before you set foot inside an insurance agency. First, identify what you want in auto, health, home, life,, business and other insurance products. Write it down. This list of features becomes the summary plan that you will give to agents and brokers in exchange for price quotes.
When you are in the shopping-around stage, you can go online to get price quotes and ballpark figures for useful comparative rates. It helps to know what costs are facing.
THE RIGHT AGENCY
Look for strong service reputations and seek out testimonials from other satisfied customers. Use any contact you have in the insurance business to find out what agents are considered the most helpful.
Ask how long the agency has been in business and with what insurers it works. Longstanding agencies have clout with insurers and they can be your advocate if you face a claims problem. Don’t be shy about asking for references – and following up on them.
Work with insurers that are financially stable. Rating services such as Standard & Poors and A.M. Best rank insurance companies based on financial stability and performance, and good brokers will discuss with you the financial status of the insurers with which they work.
Often, one agency can handle al of your insurance business. According to the Better Business Bureau, one way to save money is to insure all your automobiles with the same company or agent and to buy your homeowner’s policy or other insurance policies from the same source. Multi-policy discounts are common.. Ask about long-term holder discounts. Also, ask what other services the broker offers and at what costs.
Alternately, you can shop around based purely on price comparisons. If you treat insurance just as a commodity, brokers might not appreciate it, but you have the right to shop until you are satisfied. However, watch out for low-ball quotes.
Here are some words to know while shopping for insurance…..
Conditions: Explanations in the policy of your and your agent’s responsibilities. For example, how claims are to be filed and what proofs you must submit with your claim.
Coverage: Description in the policy on specific circumstances in which you can receive benefits.
Deductible: The amount of a loss or claim you must pay before you can collect.
Premium: The cost of the insurance policy.
RATINGS ARE IMPORTANT
It’s also important to understand the ratings, especially in car insurance. The rating is the process by which the price of your insurance coverage is determined. States are divided into rating territories. Your insurance agent, in the case of car insurance, bases part of the price of your policy on the claims history of all the drivers it insures in your territory. Often, there are discounts related to age and household or marital status.
According to a recent survey commissioned by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 67 percent of Americans feel they have about the right amount of insurance coverage, although only 28 percent say they understand the details of the coverage “very well.”
Your state’s department of insurance can provide rate guides for both auto and homeowner’s insurance, which can help consumers shop wisely for the insurance they need.
THE TOP FIVE THINGS YOPU SHOULD KNOW…
1. Identify what you want in insurance products.
2. Look for an agency with a good reputation and satisfied customers.
3. Ask for references.
4. Consider having all your insurance with one firm for a multi-policy discount.
5. Pennsylvania’ state department of insurance can help.