1 In Texas, the Auto Program is underwritten by Southern County Mutual Insurance Company through Hartford Fire General Agency. Hartford Fire Insurance Company and its affiliates are not financially responsible for insurance products underwritten and issued by Southern County Mutual Insurance Company. The Home Program is underwritten by Trumbull Insurance Company.
If you are in the market for insurance, you may have heard the terms ‘broker’ and ‘agent’ tossed around. While both are professionals in the insurance industry, these two job titles have some distinct differences. Both insurance brokers and insurance agents act as intermediaries between insurance buyers and insurers. They both must also have the appropriate licenses to distribute the insurance they are selling, while also adhering to any laws or regulations enforced by local insurance departments. The primary difference between an insurance broker and an insurance agent is who each represents. While a broker represents the insurance buyer, an agent represents one or more insurance companies.
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Virtually every state mandates that insurance agents and brokers meet licensing requirements, which normally entails the successful completion of a written examination. Prelicensing educational requirements may also apply, which can vary depending on the state and license type. Separate licenses are necessary for each line of insurance, including Life and Health and Property and Casualty. In addition, agents and brokers may have to meet ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses.
Let’s say your home burns down and it’s now uninhabitable. While your home is being rebuilt, you’ll need to live elsewhere for a short while. Additional living expenses (ALE) covers any living away from home costs and eases the stress of being temporarily uprooted. These expenses may include lodging, meals at restaurants, storage fees, and other costs incurred while your home is being rebuilt.
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Auto insurance isn’t only great protection for your vehicle, it’s also the law. All states require some degree of insurance for your vehicle to protect you and other motorists. Coverage requirements will vary based on your financial responsibility for your car and your state’s requirements. Some states even require you to have liability insurance before you even get a license.
Insurance brokerage is largely associated with general insurance (car, house etc.) rather than life insurance, although some brokers continued to provide investment and life insurance brokerage until the onset of new regulation in 2001. This drove a more transparent regime, based predominantly on upfront negotiation of a fee for the provision of advice and/or services. This saw the splitting of intermediaries into two groups: general insurance intermediaries/brokers and independent financial advisers (IFAs) for life insurance, investments and pensions.
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Through these educational requirements and experience in the field, brokers gain a significant level of knowledge in insurance. They are well informed about specific types of insurance and how claims of a particular type are covered. For example, a broker can explain to an individual exactly what types of risks a homeowner’s insurance policy will cover and what it will exclude (such as acts of god, intentional acts, negligent acts, slip and falls, loss of theft of valuable items, etc.). With this knowledge, clients can make better informed choices about what type of insurance they need, along with how much coverage is necessary. This is a broker’s job: to help clients understand the liabilities that they have and how those risks can be adequately managed through insurance. Brokers can then help clients review a number of insurance options to pick the policy and premium that best fits their needs and budget.
We’d never recommend picking an insurance company based on price alone. The entire point of carrying insurance is to be taken care of in rough times. When that time comes, a super cheap policy with paper-thin protection won’t be worth even the tiny premiums you paid for it. Plus, rates aren’t one-size-fits-all — a ton of factors impact your home insurance quote: everything from the age of your house and its neighborhood statistics, to your geographic area and its natural disaster risk. We already surfaced a collection of great companies in our review of the best homeowners insurance companies. Here, we identify which among them offer the greatest value by isolating customers’ satisfaction with pricing relative to their coverage.
As with most good insurance companies, you can get a quote from State Farm online. But State Farm’s process involves extra-detailed questions about the construction of your home, down to the percentage of carpet-covered floors and the number of corners in your home’s framing. We recommend arming yourself with floor plans, your insurance history, a home inventory, and specific details of your home’s construction so there won’t be any surprises when it's time to sign a policy contract. The upside is that all of these details provide you with an accurate quote and an exceptionally well-fitted policy.
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Whether you own a home already or you’re house-hunting, it’s wise to know average home insurance rates for your state so you can anticipate what your expense is when shopping your policy and creating a family budget. Knowing what you can expect to pay also helps you save money when comparing rates because you can more easily flag rates that are above the average home insurance cost for your area.
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J.D. Power’s annual U.S. Household Insurance Study and Consumer Reports’ customer experience survey measure communication, price satisfaction, claims process, and timely reimbursement. From J.D. Power, we required companies to have a score of 3/5 or better, and at least an 80/100 Reader Score from Consumer Reports. High scores reflect a company’s ability to handle claims and communication kindly, effectively, and without frustration.
Personal property (or Coverage C). This reimburses you for lost, stolen, or ruined possessions such as furniture, electronics, and clothing, even when they aren’t on your property. You can choose to insure them for their actual cash value (the original value, less depreciation) or their replacement value (what it costs to buy a replacement in similar condition).
Permanent life insurance policies do not expire. They are intended to protect your loved ones permanently, as long as you pay your premiums. Some permanent life insurance policies accumulate cash value. That means, the value of the policy will grow each year, tax-deferred, until it matches the face value of the policy. The cash can generally be accessed via loans or withdrawals, and can be used for a variety of purposes. This type of plan is typically portable so coverage can continue if employment terminates.