State Farm offers standard discounts for installing certain protective devices in your home, such as smoke detectors and fire alarms. It also offers a unique discount if your roof was built using impact-resistant roofing products. However, you won’t get any price breaks based on the age of your home, even if it’s newly built. Similarly, State Farm doesn’t provide discounts for new homeowners or for homeowners who have recently completed renovations, both of which are offered by Allstate and Amica. If your house is new or recently received a face-lift, it might pay to shop around elsewhere.
Insurance brokers specialize in insurance and risk management. Unlike insurance agents, brokers work for you rather than the insurance companies. An insurance broker uses his knowledge and experience to help you assess your unique insurance needs, find the best coverage and value, and can assist you when making a claim. As insurance brokers work directly with insurance buyers, you can rest assured that an expert is available to receive your calls and answer any insurance questions you have.
Homeowners insurance policy is different from a home warranty. A home warranty is a contract taken out that provides for repairs or replacements of home systems and appliances such as ovens, water heaters, washers/dryers, and pools. These contracts usually expire after a certain time period, usually 12 months, and are not mandatory to have in order to be issued a mortgage. While homeowners insurance does not cover damages that result from poor maintenance or inevitable wear and tear, home warranty covers such issues.
“I recommend that people create video evidence of all their belongings, as well as the inside and outside of their home,” says Jeffrey D. Diamond, adjunct professor of insurance law at Georgia State University College of Law. Many providers have online lists you can help to keep track. “The more ways in which you can establish and prove the features of your home, as well as the quality and quantity of your personal property before a loss occurs,” Diamond adds, “the better your homeowners insurance coverage will serve you at the time of need, if and when the need arises.”
On top of traditional price cuts, Amica offers policyholders the chance to actually make money through their house insurance. Because it’s a mutual company, Amica is member-owned, not investor-owned, and pays dividends to policyholders, not stockholders. If you opt for a dividends policy, and the company does exceptionally well financially at the end of any given term, you stand to receive a payback between 5-20% of your annual premium.
If you’re in bargain-hunting mode, Liberty Mutual may be a good place to look for homeowners insurance. It offers a long list of discounts — matching leading companies like State Farm, Allstate, and Nationwide in number — that includes some hard-to-find options we appreciated. For instance, Liberty Mutual is one of only two companies on this list, along with the Hartford, that will cut you a deal if you insure your house for 100% of its value. Other unique discounts include savings for new homes, homes with new roofs, first-time insurance buyers, and customers that set up autopay or pay online.
In that same vein, we were impressed by Nationwide’s “better roof replacement” coverage. This add-on will help pay to repair your roof with stronger, safer materials if it’s damaged by a covered peril. First off, that’s a good thing because a sturdier roof will hold up better in the future. But it’s also important because a better roof means cheaper homeowners insurance rates. So if you know your roof is getting up there in age, it may be worth paying a little extra now for better roof replacement — it could save you money in the long run.
Captive Agents - Captive insurance agents represent just one insurance carrier. In essence, they are employees of the carrier. The upside of working with a captive agent is that he or she has exceptionally thorough product knowledge. The downside is that he/she cannot provide access to products or pricing from outside their respective company. For this reason, you must have a high tolerance for carrier-specific terms, since each carrier and its in-house representatives may use language that is tough to compare across several companies that you encounter. Nevertheless, tap into that exceptional product knowledge and get smarter along the way as you search. The surge in online insurance websites offers consumers yet another option to use as part of their selection strategy. It is easy to find an insurance agent online, particularly one from a national insurance provider. Moreover, with 24-7 online access and quick comparison of policies, these web services are convenient, quick and a great way to ballpark quotes and to give you exposure to a wide variety of insurance providers. When you find one that is appealing to you, give them a call or fill out an agent request online.
The biggest downside to Erie is that it is only available in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. As well, Erie still relies strongly on its agent network; which isn't always a bad thing. A strong agent network is usually key to ensuring a smooth claims process. If you want to quickly buy car insurance without speaking to anyone though, Erie may not be the company for you. While you can start the process online, you ultimately will have to speak with an agent to finalize your quote. Erie will be ideal for any customers within its market, who do not mind putting in some extra effort to get quality and cheap auto insurance.
Independent agencies including A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s provide ratings on the financial strength of insurance companies. These agencies asses the ability of an insurance company to remain solvent in the event of major crisis or difficult economic times. While companies of such status seem invulnerable to failure, not even they have limitless funds. One notable example: American International Group (AIG) needed a government bailout during the 2008 recession. While many circumstances can influence the financial state of these corporations, their agency ratings are a valuable metric. A good rating is confirmation that an insurer can back your claim when it matters most.
If you are or were in the military, or if your parents, parent-in-law, or spouse was in the military you are eligible for USAA auto insurance, and they may just be the best company for you. USAA scores 5/5 stars for the both shopping experience, and claims handling process in the J.D. Power study. They do particularly well on how you can report your claims to the company. You should also be highly satisfied with their final settlement claims. For more information, read here.
When building your insurance policy, companies will offer discounts on your premium if you take measures that make you a lower-risk investment. For example, many companies give you a break for taking certain safety measures, like installing deadbolts or a security system. Most will knock their prices even lower if you don’t have a long claims history or if you sign up for auto-pay. We took into account the number and type of discounts offered to help maximize your chance at an affordable policy.
Other pros of Progressive include it being an online company. You can get a quote directly from the Progressive website without having to speak to an agent. Cons of Progressive involve its customer service. Customers in the J.D. Power survey only gave mediocre remarks for Progressive for its buying experience and claims handling process. It isn't the worst, but Progressive is far from the best in the field. Because of this, Progressive might be the best insurer ideally for customers prioritizing low rates, especially after an accident, and do not mind a bit more cumbersome claims handling process.
My husband and I have been using the same Independent Insurance Agent for over 15 years and I can't imagine getting insurance from anyone else! I like the personalized service we get. As bad as customer service is everywhere else, it's nice to know that I can go to my local office and get the help I need. I'm rarely put on hold when I call and I'm always helped by a knowledgeable staff member, not someone reading from a script. I've compared our insurance rates with many other companies, and our agent makes sure we get the best insurance for the best price. We've dealt with brokers and captive agents too, but our best experiences have been with Mr. Johnson.
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Don't forget to ask about the optional protection of a personal umbrella liability policy. Umbrella Coverage from $1,000,000 for individuals wanting higher liability protection. Most home and auto insurance policies stop at $500,000 liability coverage. A personal umbrella policy provides coverage on top of basic auto and home insurance: $1,000,000 to $10,000,000 available.
Services not available to residents of South Dakota. In New York licensed as SelectQuote Insurance Agency. In Minnesota and Oklahoma licensed as SelectQuote Insurance Agency Inc., and in Michigan as SelectQuote Insurance Services Inc. In Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin licensed as Charan J. Singh, Agent. In all other states licensed as SelectQuote Insurance Services.
Like any other type of insurance, you're in control of your life insurance policy. You determine how much coverage you need (from $50,000 up to a $1 million policy), how long you need it, who's covered and when you make your payments (called premiums). Usually, you can choose to pay monthly, annually or quarterly for 10, 20, 30 years or over your lifetime to maintain the coverage. When you die, if your policy is still active, the people you've listed on your policy (called your beneficiaries) get paid the death benefit. In most cases, this payment is paid in one lump sum to an individual or family.
Umbrella policies offer extra liability coverage on top of what's already covered by your standard homeowners insurance or car insurance policy. Umbrella coverage starts at $1 million. Our agents generally recommend an umbrella policy to people who have more than $500,000 in assets since that's typically where your standard homeowners policy will cap coverage. But you should also consider umbrella coverage if you're at risk of multiple lawsuits, like if you have a few teen drivers in the house or you own multiple properties, especially rentals. You can learn more about umbrella insurance here.
It's difficult to apply a rule of thumb because the amount of life insurance you need depends on factors such as your other sources of income, how many dependents you have, your debts, and your lifestyle. However, a general guideline you may find useful is to obtain a policy that would be worth between five and 10 times your annual salary in the event of your death. Beyond that guideline, you may want to consider consulting a financial planning professional to determine how much coverage to obtain.
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When it comes to online resources and navigation, Amica’s tech feels pretty dated. Its bare-bones site only details the basics of its policies and discounts. You won’t find anything like Allstate’s abundant and interactive resources, or guidance on how to build your policy. Thankfully, Amica scores highly in customer service, so a quick phone call can get you the information you need.
Insurance brokers play a significant role in helping companies and individuals procure property and casualty (liability) insurance, life insurance and annuities, and accident and health insurance. For example, research shows that brokers play a significant role in helping small employers find health insurance, particularly in more competitive markets. Average small group commissions range from two percent to eight percent of premiums. Brokers provide services beyond procuring insurance, such as providing risk assessments, insurance consulting services, insurance-related regulatory and legislative updates, claims assistance services, assisting with employee enrollment, and helping to resolve benefit issues. However, some states consider the provision of services that are unrelated to the insurance procured through the broker to be an impermissible rebate or inducement.
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We catalogued optional coverage additions that can fill gaps in your policy or cater to specific disaster-prone regions. Earthquakes, for example, aren’t covered in a standard policy, but for those living near fault lines, an endorsement that will cover damage resulting from an earthquake is wise. It’s important that insurance companies offer a variety of useful endorsements to help create a policy tailored to your home’s true risks.
Internationally known financial adviser Suze Orman strongly believes that if you want insurance, buy term; if you want an investment, buy an investment, not insurance. Don't mix the two. Unless you're a very savvy investor and understand all the implications of the various types of life insurance policies, you most likely should purchase term life insurance.
Simply put, there are six main categories that homeowners insurance covers: your dwelling, other structures, personal property, loss of use, liability, and medical payments. Within each category are particular coverages and exclusions. For example, water damage is covered under “dwelling” as a result of burst pipes or water heater but not as a result of heavy rainfall or flooding (though coverage for the latter can be added separately). And while water damage from the burst pipe is covered, your policy won’t cover the cost of replacing those pipes.