Googling homeowners insurance could spell disaster for you.

Have your ever Googled your symptoms even though you know you should’nt only to find out you are dying in the next five minutes?!?

I have done it. I was recently diagnosed with a difficult form of eczema but had convinced myself after Googling my symptoms that I had skin cancer. After hemming and hawing I decided to put on my big girl pants and talk to a professional – my dermatologist. She quickly settled my nerves and told me that greasy lotion was my new best friend and that feeling like a greased pig was a new way of life now.

That’s like Googling home insurance and going with the first website that promises you cheap home insurance. It may seem easier and less stressful to do it yourself but you don’t really know what you need or what’s available. Only an professional can do that.

According to a study completed by JD Power in 2016 74% of new insurance purchasers will begin the buying process online. Of those consumers 25% will purchase insurance online. The rest use other methods, such as insurance agents or insurance company call centers. Now consider that 60% of homes in the US are under insured as stated by Marshall & Swift/Boeckh, and per Insurance Information Institute 1 in 20 homes will have a home claim each year. Those are some scary statistics from my perspective.

I know asking for help is difficult sometimes. My husband easily comes to mind when it comes to asking for help, asking for directions, or visiting a doctor. Hearing, “Honey, you were right.” always feels good. There is a reason there are doctors and there is a reason why there are Insurance Agents. It’s because we need them.

You may think by Googling and searching through a couple options that you have the right insurance. You can’t tell from seeing a few websites what you are getting until you are knee deep in a claim and you are hearing the word “denial” from your claim adjustor when you realize you may need a professional.

You are not paying extra money by using an Insurance Agent. You are asking for some one to build a relationship and trust with you. You are asking for an Insurance Agent to help you insure your home and auto adequately and to educate you about what is available to you. So ask for help and don’t go it alone. You will be glad you have some one to call if and when something happens.

What is Personal Insurance vs. Commercial Insurance?

Insurance is complicated as I have said before. There is sometimes confusion as to what type of policy you may need. There are a variety of policies out there and only a Insurance Agent can help you navigate to the right insurance program for you.

Typically a business has a few characteristics that leads to commercial policies. This includes a business name or entity, its purpose is to generate money or profits, they employ others, and have clients/customers/policyholders/members. If you tick any of these items then you will be looking at a variety of commercial policies such as the following:

  • General Liability                           
  • Workers Compensation
  • Product Liability
  • Business Property
  • Employment Practices
  • Errors & Omissions
  • Directors & Officers
  • Inland Marine
  • Business Auto
  • Cyber Liability
  • Crime
  • Bond
  • Commercial Umbrella
  • Boiler & Machinery
  • Pollution
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Builders Risk
  • Business Interruption

In the case of personal, assets are owned by an individual or a married couple. They do not have employees or clients. In some situations there may be a business entity but this will be scrutinized by the insurance company. There may also be a situation where a home owner rents out their home to others for money but this will also be reviewed by the insurance company for acceptability. Personal Insurance includes the following types of policies:

  • Homeowners
  • Personal Auto
  • Vacation Homes
  • Investment Properties
  • Rental Properties
  • Vacant Properties
  • Collections Insurance
  • Umbrella Insurance
  • Boats
  • Yachts

  • Jet Skis
  • Motor Homes
  • Mobile Homes
  • Trailers
  • Campers
  • ATVs
  • Motorcycles
  • Scooters
  • Snow Mobiles
  • Drones

Sometimes you will find cross over between personal and commercial policies but only an Insurance Agent can guide you to the right policy for what you are trying to accomplish. Take for example the individual that came to me in need of a home insurance policy for their home that also housed a reptile rescue sanctuary with employees. Apparently this did not come up in conversation with the prior agent and the insurance company was now cancelling the policy. This does not fit the typical profile of a home owners insurance policy and therefore was forced to purchase a commercial program. There is also the case of an individual purchasing a vehicle in the name of a LLC which they also use the for personal reasons. Based on the insurance companies review of the occupation of the driver and the business exposure it did not qualify for a personal auto policy and was instead covered by commercial auto insurance policy.

Insurance as a whole is not black and white. It is not one size fits all. Each situation is unique and policies are placed on a case by case basis. Sometimes the decision is the not Insurance Agent’s but the insurance company’s decision. Keep in mind your Insurance Agent is your front line person to place a policy that will respond the way you need it to at the time of a claim. Only they can help you find the best policy for your situation.

What you need to know about selecting a home deductible.

When looking at insurance quotes our eyes automatically drift to the bottom line premium quoted. But what about all the stuff above it? Not all home quotes and/or policies are created equal. One of the key parts of a home quote and/or policy is the deductible. Below is a list of things to keep in mind as you consider a home quote and/or policy.

  • Some deductibles are flat and some deductibles are percentages. Percentages are typically used in coastal areas where there is a higher probability of wind, hurricane, etc. A percentage deductible is based on the dwelling value listed in the policy. If the dwelling value increases the deductible increases as well.
  • Some deductibles are specific to a type of coverage; Water Back-Up, Water Damage, Hurricane, Tropical Cyclone, Named Storm, Wind/Hail, etc. You may also see the term All Other Peril which means where a specific deductible is not identified the All Other Peril deductible applies.
  • A home policy can have multiple deductibles which can be a problem if a claim triggers more than one deductible. Understanding how each deductible applies at the time of a claim is important.
  • Some deductibles are dictated or required by the insurance company. This decision can be based on where the home is located, such as coastal. One insurance company may require a higher deductible than another insurance company.
  • Some home policies waive the deductible for large claims or a total loss claim. Knowing when a deductible waiver applies is important. This can be beneficial in deciding on a high deductible.
  • Some companies offer a reducing deductible if you remain claim free.

It is important when you are reviewing a home quote that you be aware of the deductibles. While a high deductible will reduce the policy premium, a high deductible can be detrimental if you can not afford the deductible at the time of a claim or the losses that occur are below the deductible. An insurance agent can help you review all the deductibles applicable to a quote and/or policy. An agent can also help you select a deductible that fits your financial situation while providing you the most advantageous premium.

Do you need Rental Reimbursement on your auto insurance?

The short and sweet answer is yes but I am not the short and sweet type when it comes to insurance. So let’s dig a little deeper.

Many individuals dont think they need it and many times forgo it to save money. Honestly this coverage is only about $30 to $40 per vehicle annually, if not less. That’s not alot when you consider it’s an annual cost and what it means for you.

Recently I had a client find out the hard way how important Rental Reimbursement is. Another vehicle hit my client’s vehicle while parked and unoccupied. Initially the client attempted to have the claim handled by the responsible party’s  company. However the adjustor was indicating the vehicle was a total loss and that decision made the client uncomfortable. Add on the client had paid extra money for Replacement Cost coverage on the totaled vehicle on their own auto insurance policy. The client attempted to go back to their own insurance for Replacement Cost coverage but it was determined they had no Rental Reimbursement on their own auto policy. The claim process would start over with the client’s own insurance company and leave them out of pocket for another rental vehicle.

In the end the client settled with the responsible party’s insurance company to reduce the amount of stress and move on ultimately.

Had the client opted for Rental Reimbursement when the policy was purchased the client would have had a completely different result.

Yes, you can shave off a few dollars on your auto insurance by not including Rental Reimbursement but it can have a severe impact at the time of a claim.

So purchase Rental Reimbursement for all of your vehicles. I recommend a limit of $40 per day based on the average cost of a small rental vehicle. You can certainly bump it up if you will need more rental vehicle, such as a mini van or SUV.

An independent agent can help you pick the right limit and find a competitive auto insurance policy for you.

It’s Not About Price

When you pick out a car is your only deciding factor the price? No! In your mind you have already picked a color and all the cool features you want. Leather seats, navigation system, parking assist, heated steering wheel, etc. The list is endless. You’ve done your research and know the listed price of the vehicle you want. You also researched pricing for your trade in and the financing. When you arrive at the dealership and finally get behind the wheel, you are in love. You are sold. You want that car no matter what. Price is a factor but not the only factor.

Insurance should be the same way. There is no one size fits all. There is no standard policy. Not all policies are the same. And price should not be the only deciding factor. There are a lot of benefits and features available and every insurance company has a different selection of coverages available.

With home there is water back-up, personal injury, and guaranteed replacement. With auto there is medical payments, rental reimbursement, and agreed value. Like buying a vehicle the more features you want the more it costs. Why would you settle for Kia coverage when you purchased a Mercedes? Why would you settle for a home policy designed for some one that has $0 assets when you need to insure a million dollar home?

Do the research. Know what the value of good coverage means to you. Don’t settle for typical coverage. Don’t focus on the bottom line when it comes to insurance. When something catastrophic happens you are going to want peace of mind, not the lowest price.