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.
Your best possible price equals a competitive initial quote, plus lots of opportunities to save. The most significant discounts, like those for owning a fire extinguisher or being claim-free, are offered by most providers. However, there are a few exceptional discounts that make certain providers a better fit for certain homeowners. For example: Allstate’s “new purchase” discount gives a small break to owners who are moving into their home for the first time. We tallied and compared the discounts offered by each provider to help us make personalized recommendations for different homeowners.
You will find independent insurance agents represent many of the same insurance companies offered by local insurance agents. The biggest benefit is the time savings individuals and business will find. Because the selection of insurance companies for personal, commercial and life insurance is so comprehensive you don't have to contact several agents for quotes. An independent insurance agent may represent 5 to 10 insurance companies.
Customers claim that Progressive offers reasonable prices and attentive representatives. Our own experiences with Progressive were bolstered by its well-designed online quote tool. Like many insurance companies, Progressive relies on third-party underwriters, and most that do so automatically pair you with a single underwriter in order to produce a quote. Progressive furnishes quotes from several of its underwriting partners and allows you to choose the one that best suits you. This gives you the power to prioritize coverage and price.
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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.
Whole life is permanent insurance — you’re insured throughout your lifetime, or until the policy matures, as long as you continue to pay your premiums per terms of the contract. And those premiums will stay level as long as the policy remains in force. Over time, permanent insurance typically accumulates a cash value that can be accessed2 for a variety of purposes while you’re still alive.
Because brokers work with a variety of insurance companies, they tend to have a broader understanding of companies’ offerings and key benefits. They are commission-based, which is a double-edged sword: they may be more motivated to earn your business year after year by getting you the best deal possible; or they may try to sell you a policy with unnecessary bells and whistles since that would pay them a higher commission. Regarding the double-edged sword: the best way to nail down the best deal possible is the annual review and re-shopping of coverage. The best way to avoid unnecessary “bells and whistles” is to remember that your needs guide what you purchase. If you don’t need “bells and whistles”, don’t purchase them. Approaching insurance this way is always the best way forward. Consider this: having options placed in front of you and explained in detail allows you the opportunity to hear about the newest “bells and whistles,” some of which may be just what you need or were looking for, but simply never asked about. Policies change, and new options are added by carriers all the time.
To stay up to date with changing regulations and ensure they are continuing to meet their duties, brokers are licensed by the state insurance regulatory agencies. This license must be renewed on a biannual basis in most states. The insurance brokers' job only begins after the policy is sold. They must regularly meet with their clients and determine that their current policies are meeting the clients' needs.
Converting term life to whole life insurance can be an excellent way to continue your life insurance policy and also build cash value that you can borrow from. There are many different ways to structure this type of policy, depending on your needs and goals, so be sure to work with a life insurance professional who can answer all of your questions and help you make the best choices.
I read the comments about the topic of my article and I see that some responses touch on the "middleman" in ways that suggest some things about those who reside "in the middle." One plus for us "middle" people is that we get to hear things from carriers that those on the retail buying end may not ever hear. Sometimes, when dealing with us "middle" people, you get a behind the scenes look at things that may have a bearing on your coverage. With life insurance through a broker vs an agent, you get to know that impaired risk underwriting (for unhealthy applicants) has a particular kind of nuance. For instance, carriers may decline your application because they take on a set number of impaired risk clients, and then they decline those coming after that. You might think, after being declined, that what they are telling you is "you are done, no life insurance for you." But, what I know from experience is that another carrier or two have not hit the limit yet on declines - and that might be the avenue of approach to get you approved. As a broker, I know things that apply across a broad spectrum of carriers, not just the playbook of one carrier. As a result, the market intelligence of this "middleman" can improve the experience of buyers by finding a way forward for them that is outside the boundary of what a retail buyer might ever know. One thing that I did not mention in the article is that I have been both a captive and a broker, and the experience allows me to see the pluses and minuses in both. Thank you for your responses, and if you have a question about insurance of any type (my specialties are life, Health, Disability, and Annuities) you may post it at MoneyTips.com and let the professional community respond to it. It's free, harmless, informative, relatively instant, and a bunch of other good things, too.
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For more than 85 years, Safeco has delivered new and better ways to protect cars and drivers with auto insurance. If you drive a sedan, hybrid, minivan, station wagon, SUV, pickup truck or anything in between, your local independent agent can provide personalized coverage that's right for you. If trouble comes along, we’ll make sure you’re taken care of every step of the way.
Analysis: That just means that your incumbent insurer’s underwriter won’t approve that coverage. The broker isn’t willing to do what’s needed to get the deal done, which is shopping the coverage to other insurers — exactly what brokers are supposed to do. It’s clear that this is the case, because on occasions when a second broker appears to bid on your business, you’ll find that suddenly the coverage you wanted becomes available after all.
1. It’s part of a sound financial plan. You know about savings, you know about retirement. You might know a bit about investments and long-term financial planning for your health and happiness. And life insurance helps with planning for your loved ones’ long-term health and happiness, especially those who depend on your income, in case something were to happen to you.
Sure. The liability portion of your homeowners insurance kicks in if someone is accidentally injured on or around your property. Say they slip on an icy sidewalk or your dog bites them. So long as there are no exclusions (which is possible, particularly with certain dog breeds), liability insurance will pay for that person's medical expenses and any court costs you incur if they sue. Liability insurance also covers property damage caused unintentionally by you or your family members, like if your kid breaks a neighbor's window while playing catch in your yard.
Every homeowners insurance policy has a liability limit, which determines the amount of coverage that the insured has should an unfortunate incident occur. The standard limits are usually set at $100,000, but the policyholder can opt for a higher limit. In the event that a claim is made, the liability limit stipulates the percentage of the coverage amount that would go toward replacing or repairing damage to the property structures, personal belongings, and costs to live somewhere else while the property is worked on.
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You’re typically asked about your current and past health conditions, and your family health history. The insurer may ask for your consent to get your medical records and may ask you to take a life insurance medical exam. Insurers will also check other data sources to determine term life insurance quotes. More: What you need to apply for term life insurance
Our goal is to help you understand the importance of life, disability and long-term care insurance in a sound financial plan, so you’re able to better protect yourself and your family. We give you up-to-date information and personal accounts of how these types of insurance can change lives, along with financial information and trends that allow you put it all into perspective.
While local or special eligibility insurers can potentially write you a great homeowners policy at a competitive rate, large national carriers tend to have more discounts and bundling opportunities. They’re also better equipped to handle claims in the wake of a disaster. Their rolling claims centers, outfitted with generators, satellite connections, and agent workstations, can make all the difference in areas where power has been knocked out.
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).
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Most states allow insurers to factor in your credit score when deciding what you’ll pay. The logic? Customers with high credit scores are less likely to make claims, and the insurer will return some of those expected savings in the form of lower rates. If you need some help getting on top of your score, and potentially improving it, check out our favorite credit monitoring services.
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Of all the variables that affect your premium, the most important will be replacement cost value. This is the amount of money needed to completely rebuild or replace your home in the aftermath of catastrophe. That number isn’t going to be the same as what you paid for your home (it should account for appreciation), nor the market value (which accounts for the plot of land and location). It’s best to hire an independent appraiser to get this number right and then confirm it with an appraiser from your insurance company. Now, the higher the replacement cost, the higher your premium, but don’t be tempted to underestimate it even if you’re eager to trim policy costs. This value is critical — protection against loss is the whole point of carrying insurance.
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.