Most people are familiar with or have worked with an insurance agent at some point in their lives. However, a broker has an entirely different role from an insurance agent. Unlike insurance agents, insurance brokers do not work for an insurance company. They work for their clients, providing advice on the best insurance options for their clients’ needs. Their goal is to support their clients’ interests — not to sell a particular policy on behalf of an insurance company.
‡‡ Some benefits, such as the Disappearing Property Deductible, are only available with the optional Advantage Plus package. A policy without these added benefits is also available. To qualify for the Disappearing Property Deductible, homeowners must have no claims or losses for three consecutive years in most states. The Advantage Plus package option and the Disappearing Property Deductible benefit are not available in all states.
Brokers are not appointed by insurers. They solicit insurance quotes and/or policies from insurers by submitting completed applications on behalf of buyers. Brokers don't have the authority to bind coverage. To initiate a policy, a broker must obtain a binder from the insurer. A binder is a legal document that serves as a temporary insurance policy. It usually applies for a short period, such as 30 or 60 days. A binder is not valid unless it has been signed by a representative of the insurer. A binder is replaced by a policy.
Amica consistently ranks among the top homeowners carriers by J.D. Power and Consumer Reports, due to its sky-high customer satisfaction with the all-important claims process (settlement, estimation, and repair). This is arguably the most essential element of good customer service in the industry. Amica was the only one of our top providers that received a five out of five in every category from J.D. Power. Amica also received a Consumer Reports reader score of 94 — two points better than USAA, the gold standard in insurance. None of our other finalists came anywhere close. With excellent scores across the board, you can expect timely and helpful interactions with Amica representatives.
Acts of war or acts of God such as earthquakes or floods are typically excluded from standard homeowners insurance policies. A homeowner who lives in an area prone to these natural disasters may need to get special coverage to insure his or her property from floods or earthquakes. However, most basic homeowners insurance policies cover events like hurricanes and tornadoes.
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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.
Life insurance policies often have hidden costs, such as fees and large commissions, that you may not find out about until after you purchase the policy. There are so many different kinds of life insurance, and so many companies that offer these policies, that you should use a fee-only insurance adviser who, for a fixed fee, will research the various policies available to you and recommend the one that best suits your needs. To ensure objectivity, your adviser should not be affiliated with any particular insurance company and should not receive a commission from any policy.
Liberty Mutual has a decent selection of endorsements, from scheduled personal property to coverage for your home business, but one add-on stood out to us in particular. Liberty Mutual is one of the few providers that offers inflation protection for homeowners. With this add-on, the company will automatically adjust your coverage limits each year to keep up with inflation. That means if your house ever needs repairs, you won’t have to worry about the higher cost of building materials and labor exceeding your previously sufficient coverage.
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.