Nice write up. I personally have been able to save with an independent agent. A big concern of mine was finding an agent that worked with more reputable insurance carriers. There seems to be alot of agents who will use non-standard insurance carriers to provide cheaper coverage. I've heard some horror stories about customer service, sub-par adjustments, and claims services. I'd definitely do alot of research into the insurance companies the independent agent is appointed with.
Progressive Home Advantage® policies are placed through Progressive Specialty Insurance Agency, Inc. with insurers affiliated with Progressive and with unaffiliated insurers. Each insurer is solely responsible for the claims on its policies and pays PSIA for policies sold. Prices, coverages and privacy policies vary among these insurers, who may share information about you with us. PSIA’s compensation from these insurers may vary between the insurers and based on the policy you buy, sales volume and/or profitability of policies sold. See a list of all the insurers that write Progressive Home Advantage policies, or contact us for more details.

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Homeowners insurance quotes, in states where Esurance homeowners insurance is not available, are provided by Answer Financial, Inc or Security First Insurance Company for FL residents. Homeowners insurance claims are processed and paid by the underwriting company. Esurance does not underwrite, provide customer service, or pay claims for any homeowners policies sold by Answer Financial or Security First Insurance Company.
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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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.
Insurance brokers perform a plethora of duties for individuals and businesses in search of the right insurance for them. When you contact an insurance broker for a quote, he will acquire some information and assess your individual needs. An insurance broker will compare the coverage of various insurers to get you the best conditions and rates. A broker will also search for opportunities to combine different types of insurances to obtain discounts or reduce premiums. As brokers do not work for the insurance companies, their recommendations are unbiased and in favor of the insurance buyer.
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This life insurance information is provided for general consumer educational purposes and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice. Life Insurance offered through Allstate Life Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL; Allstate Assurance Company, Northbrook, IL; Lincoln Benefit Life Company, Lincoln, NE and American Heritage Life Insurance Company, Jacksonville, FL. In New York, life insurance offered through Allstate Life Insurance Company of New York, Hauppauge, NY. All guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.


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.

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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.
2Partial withdrawals and surrenders from life policies are generally taxed as ordinary income to the extent the withdrawal exceeds your investment in the contract, which is also called the "basis." In some situations, partial withdrawals during the first 15 policy years may result in taxable income prior to recovery of the investment in the contract. Loans are generally not taxable if taken from a life insurance policy that is not a modified endowment contract. However, when cash values are used to repay a loan, the transaction is treated like a withdrawal and taxed accordingly. If a policy is a modified endowment contract, loans are treated as a taxable distribution to the extent of policy gain. On a modified endowment contract, loans, withdrawals and surrenders are treated first as distributions of the policy gain subject to ordinary income taxation, and may be subject to an additional 10% federal tax penalty if made prior to age 59½. Loans, if not repaid, and withdrawals reduce the policy's death benefit and cash value.
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.
Your home's claims history -- The claims history includes both your filed claims and ones that previous owners filed. If you file more than one claim in a 10-year period, you can expect your insurance rates to increase. They'll increase even more if you file more home claims. That could even cause your insurance company to drop you because you're considered too much of a risk. 

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.
Term life insurance pays a specific lump sum to your loved ones for a specified period of time – usually from one to 20 years. If you stop paying premiums, the insurance stops. Term policies pay benefits if you die during the period covered by the policy, but they do not build cash value. They may also give you the option to port. That is, you can take the coverage with you if you leave your company.

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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.

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Universal life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance designed to provide lifetime coverage. Unlike whole life insurance, universal life insurance policies are flexible and may allow you to raise or lower your premium payment or coverage amounts throughout your lifetime. Additionally, due to its lifetime coverage, universal life typically has higher premium payments than term.

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Now that you have a better picture of the difference between term and whole life policies, you probably want to compare term life versus whole life insurance costs. To do so, you will need to directly compare the short and long term costs of a whole life policy and a term policy, based on factors like your age, the face value of the policy you want to buy, and whether or not you are a smoker.
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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7Variable universal life products are long-term investments designed to provide life insurance protection and flexibility in connection with premium payments and death benefits. You should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the investment alternatives before purchasing a policy. These policies have limitations and are sold by prospectus only. The prospectus contains details on the investment alternatives, policy features, the underlying portfolios, fees, charges, expenses, and other pertinent information. To obtain a prospectus or a copy of the underlying portfolio prospectuses, please contact Allstate Assurance Company. Please read the prospectuses carefully before purchasing a contract.

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How you buy your Progressive Home Advantage policy — directly through us (online, by mobile device or by phone) or through an independent agent/broker rather than PAA — determines which insurers are available to you. Use the link above to get a rate from one of the insurers. Or contact us to see if we can get you a rate from any of the other insurers. Policies sold through agents and brokers are available from them and through Progressive.com/agent.

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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.
Brokers - Because a broker is solely focused on your unique needs, he or she can help with comparison-shopping, honing in on the best prices for the coverage you need. They can even advise you on how to best bundle or customize your policies in ways that agents might not be able to do (either because they are restricted in their policy offerings, or simply because they lack the insight into your specific needs).
If you find yourself away from the wheel more times than not, a pay-per mile auto insurance company like Metromile may be the best company to go with. Metromile is one of the first companies in the U.S. where a bulk of a driver's premium is determined by how much they drive. How much is too much? We found that generally for Metromile to be a good deal, drivers should only drive 7,500 miles or less per year. The biggest downsides to Metromile is a mediocre record of claims handling, in addition to the company only being available in seven states: CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA.
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.

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3 The above example is based on a scenario for 20‐year term life insurance (domicile state) that includes the following benefit conditions: $50,000 death benefit, $50,000 accidental death benefit, and $12,500 seatbelt benefit. Benefits may vary by state, benefit option, and level of coverage selected. Review your state‐specific brochure below for a “How It Works” scenario customized for your state.

It depends on the type of policy and the agent’s contract level with the insurance company. A Medicare insurance broker may have different commission levels with different insurance companies as well. A large Medicare insurance broker who has been in the market for a number of years is not likely to care about small differences. Here at Boomer Benefits, we enroll our clients in the insurance plan that is right for them regardless.
People who choose Universal Life Insurance are typically looking to maximize their long-term coverage and are less concerned with building cash value. You would fit this category if, say, you were an older parent with young kids to see through college, or if you have a second home with a mortgage that will take you into retirement. If you want to be sure your long-term financial commitments are covered, Universal Life could work for you.
“It’s not anybody else’s responsibility to help you reach the next level. It’s your responsibility,” she told the audience. “It’s important for you to find the right mentor to help guide you along the way – and there are lots of us out there who want to help you become a superstar - but you have to be willing to go the extra mile to make sure you stand out from the crowd.
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.
Base commission is the “normal” commission earned on insurance policies. Base commission is expressed in terms of a percentage of premium and varies by type of coverage. For instance, an agent might earn say, a 10 percent commission on workers compensation policies and 15 percent on general liability policies. Suppose that you purchase a liability policy from the Elite Insurance Company through the Jones Agency, an independent agent. Jones earns a 15 percent commission on general liability policies.
Medicare Brokers like Boomer Benefits also often provide simple and easy education to you about how Medicare works. Every year, thousands of Medicare beneficiaries feel frustrated after trying to read the Medicare handbook. At Boomer Benefits, we will educate you by breaking Medicare down into pieces that are easier to understand. This is why we are so well known as the baby boomer’s favorite insurance agency.

If you make any home improvements or security upgrades, you might be able to reduce your premium — but only if you tell your insurer. Before investing in any renovations on your home, double-check what discounts are available. Chances are you already have the basics down, such as deadbolts and smoke alarms. But your insurer may reduce your rate if you go the extra mile with carbon monoxide detectors and home security systems (provided they're monitored). That also extends to improvements that help guard against natural disasters, like storm shutters and stronger windows. However, not every addition will help your premium. Trampolines, swimming pools, and “risky” dog breeds such as pit bulls will make your homeowners insurance company cringe. They’re all liability concerns, and liability concerns make rates go up.

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Dwelling Coverage – Helps protects your home and the structures directly attached to it. This can include coverage for electrical wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning as well as larger structures like staircases and walls. Tip: Choose the right amount of coverage – enough to cover the cost to rebuild your house in the case of a total loss.
For instance, someone who lives in New England near the ocean might not get as much snow as someone 25 miles inland. So, the person along the coast with less snowfall may pay less due to a lower risk of freeze losses. Or, on the other hand, if that person lives right along the coastline, he may pay more because of increased risk of ocean windstorm-related damage.

2Partial withdrawals and surrenders from life policies are generally taxed as ordinary income to the extent the withdrawal exceeds your investment in the contract, which is also called the "basis." In some situations, partial withdrawals during the first 15 policy years may result in taxable income prior to recovery of the investment in the contract. Loans are generally not taxable if taken from a life insurance policy that is not a modified endowment contract. However, when cash values are used to repay a loan, the transaction is treated like a withdrawal and taxed accordingly. If a policy is a modified endowment contract, loans are treated as a taxable distribution to the extent of policy gain. On a modified endowment contract, loans, withdrawals and surrenders are treated first as distributions of the policy gain subject to ordinary income taxation, and may be subject to an additional 10% federal tax penalty if made prior to age 59½. Loans, if not repaid, and withdrawals reduce the policy's death benefit and cash value.

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Agents and brokers act as intermediaries between you (the insurance buyer) and your insurers. Each has a legal duty to help you obtain appropriate coverage at a reasonable price. Each must have a license to distribute the type of insurance he or she is selling. An agent or broker must also adhere to the regulations enforced by your state insurance department.
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SelectQuote Insurance Services is not obligated to monitor any transmission made through the respective web pages and newsgroups. However, SelectQuote Insurance Services has the right, but not the obligation, to monitor any transmission made to and for this website. SelectQuote Insurance Services may use or disclose information gathered from the site.
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The price of car insurance can vary greatly between states. One company may be expensive in Utah, but inexpensive in New York. In some states, a small, local company could even offer the best price. Below, click through to your state to see which company and cities have the least expensive car insurance based on the numerous studies we've conducted.

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Living near a full-time fire station with a nearby hydrant plays a role in your home insurance rates. The reason an insurer wants a home near a fire department and hydrant is that there is less chance of your home burning down if you live near a fire station. Having a hydrant nearby also means that firefighters can start battling a house fire faster than if the hydrant is down the street -- or even miles away.
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.

Rules of ethics. (You might say this is a simple case of “buyer beware,” but as government investigations have indicated, it’s the misrepresentation that’s the problem. Such investigations have found that brokers do not always consider their clients’ best interests, instead acting primarily in their own interests and those of their favored insurance companies.)


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.
“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.”
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.
2Partial withdrawals and surrenders from life policies are generally taxed as ordinary income to the extent the withdrawal exceeds your investment in the contract, which is also called the "basis." In some situations, partial withdrawals during the first 15 policy years may result in taxable income prior to recovery of the investment in the contract. Loans are generally not taxable if taken from a life insurance policy that is not a modified endowment contract. However, when cash values are used to repay a loan, the transaction is treated like a withdrawal and taxed accordingly. If a policy is a modified endowment contract, loans are treated as a taxable distribution to the extent of policy gain. On a modified endowment contract, loans, withdrawals and surrenders are treated first as distributions of the policy gain subject to ordinary income taxation, and may be subject to an additional 10% federal tax penalty if made prior to age 59½. Loans, if not repaid, and withdrawals reduce the policy's death benefit and cash value.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer review, and coordinate their regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally. NAIC members, together with the central resources of the NAIC, form the national system of state-based insurance regulation in the U.S. For more information, visit www.naic.org.
Dealing with an insurance broker as opposed to directly with an insurer is something many customers (particularly businesses) choose to do in Australia for reasons including: the ease of having the "shopping around done for them"; having the opportunity for premium funding which allows for larger insurance policies to be paid in installments rather than all at once; dealing with one broker for all policies from the car insurance to professional indemnity insurance rather than dealing directly with several insurers; and, the ease of having claims managed by the broker who deals directly with the insurer on the client's behalf.
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7Variable universal life products are long-term investments designed to provide life insurance protection and flexibility in connection with premium payments and death benefits. You should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the investment alternatives before purchasing a policy. These policies have limitations and are sold by prospectus only. The prospectus contains details on the investment alternatives, policy features, the underlying portfolios, fees, charges, expenses, and other pertinent information. To obtain a prospectus or a copy of the underlying portfolio prospectuses, please contact Allstate Assurance Company. Please read the prospectuses carefully before purchasing a contract.
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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