Break the Insurance Mold, Go Independent!

An independent insurance agency is more than just another cookie-cutter coverage provider. They offer a unique set of opportunities to their customers that could be missed out on if you choose to work with agents representing only one company. These captive insurance agents can have competitive rates for personal, business, and life insurance, independent insurance agents provide their clients with policy package flexibility, more personalized customer service, and the ability to shop your insurance for you. This ensures that you get the best coverage for the best price.

Many single-company insurance providers have their own exclusive agents that sell for only that insurance company and their primary responsibility is to their employer, not necessarily to the client. This can create a conflict of interests that adversely affects the customer in the event of a dispute.

Multi-company independent agents are licensed professionals who must understand all of the offerings of the insurance carriers that they represent.  This means that they will be able to find a specific policy that fits your insurance needs best.  They do not work for the company, they work for you which keeps your best interest and their best interest aligned.

What does this policy personalization get you? (more…)

Wow! It’s Wet In Here! How To Avoid Costly Water Damage Claims

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Water damage claims are messy and a hassle to deal with. The best way to avoid them is to understand where the high risk areas of your plumbing are and to implement maintenance and preventative care. The Institute for Business & Home Safety identified 9 of the biggest plumbing risks in a survey of home water damage claims and offers several tips for keeping them from becoming water damage nightmares.

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Everything You Need to Know About Your Insurance Audit

What Is An Insurance Audit?

Insurance audits are typically performed on commercial insurance policies providing auto, general liability, garage liability, umbrella, and workers compensation coverages. When these policies are issued, you are asked to pay an estimated premium. Estimated premiums are based on the nature of your business and your estimate of exposures (i.e. payroll, sales, etc.) for the policy period.

Once your policy expires, an audit is conducted by the insuring company to collect information on actual exposures and operations and then a final premium is determined. The difference in the estimate and the final premium will be either refunded or billed to you. This allows your insurance to accurately reflect your business’s fluctuations in payroll and business growth or downsizing.

When And How Will The Audit Be Done?

An audit will be performed shortly after your policy expires, usually within 30 days of the expiration date. Smaller, less complex businesses may only require that you assemble and send the necessary information to the insurer or have the information available when a telephone auditor calls. Larger and more complicated policies are handled by a field auditor, who will schedule an appointment and visit your business. If you must change or cancel a scheduled appointment, please advise the auditor as far in advance as possible.
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Insurance for Everything Else: Excess and Surplus

Insurance is one of the most readily available financial services in the market place.  Nearly everyone needs it in some form or fashion, but what if your insurance shopping has come up empty so far.  This may happen for several reasons; lack of prior coverage, the coverage you need is unique and hard to find, you have had several losses in the past and do not qualify for most insurance carriers, or any number of other reasons.  If you or your business falls into one of these categories, then fear not!  Specialty insurance companies offer what is called Excess & Surplus lines to cover everything that does not qualify under normal insurance guidelines.

Excess & Surplus Insurance can be divided into 3 major market segments; each with an issue that keeps the insurance from being written by a standard company: (more…)

Is Insurance on Your Back to School Checklist?

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As your new or returning college student heads back to school for their next semester you will have a lot on your mind. Moving all their furniture and belongings back to campus, making sure tuition is paid in time, setting up meal plans, and shopping for class books and school supplies. If your student is moving into an apartment off campus then one thing that you should not overlook is your insurance. While your own home insurance policy may extend some coverage for your student’s school housing, this is not always included and can be very limited if it is present at all.

Home policies may cover some of the student’s property while he or she is away at school, but they are not suited to handle all of their insurance needs for several reasons. The first is that a home policy generally has a high deductible which can lead to very limited coverage for inexpensive belongings like TVs, computers, and furniture. If you have a $500 deductible on your home policy with a coverage extension, then a $1,000 laptop that is stolen from your son or daughter’s apartment would only be covered by half. Additionally, filing small claims like these on your main homeowners policy can reduce your insurability and increase your cost of insurance in the future. (more…)

Six Life Insurance Features That You Should Know

Life policies are a tricky subject when you get into the details.  They have several features and add-ons that many people will overlook when deciding which policy to get.  Here are a few things to look into on your existing or future Life Insurance Policy:

  1. Accidental Death Benefit: As the name suggests, this endorsement broadens coverage to include an accidental death. Frequently, this may be lumped in with other broadening coverages on your life policy, like dismemberment coverage. For most people, this is likely an unnecessary coverage option, however if you are frequently exposing yourself to risky situations or are more clumsy than most, then the small additional cost may be worth adding to your policy.
  2. Waiver of Premium Rider: This is a very important addition to look into. It is designed to keep your policy in force in the event that you are disabled for any length of time and cannot pay the policy premium due to your inability to work. Depending on the policy, this missed premium may have to be paid later, but the policy will not lapse while you are incapacitated. (more…)

GAP Insurance: Avoid this Car Insurance Pitfall

Something that the recent housing market crash has shown us all is that there is a definite difference between a property’s cost and its market value.  When the housing market tanked and market values sharply declined, many of the mortgages and loans on the houses were more costly than the houses could be sold for.  The term for this is being “upside down on the loan”.  A similar issue can occur with auto insurance coverage, so it is something that you need to watch out for.

Similar to the housing crash, new cars often depreciate faster than the auto loan is paid off.  This is especially true since early loan payments on a new vehicle are almost entirely interest.  The issues arise if the car is totaled before the loan is paid off enough to where it is less than the actual cash value of the car (price new minus depreciation).
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Best Practices for Workers Compensation Insurance

Worker’s Compensation insurance is designed to provide for your employees in the event that they are injured on the job.  A clean injury claims record and safe business practices can lead to lowered premiums for this state-required coverage.  In order to minimize you and your employees’ exposure to workplace hazards there are several good practices that you should implement in your business as well as services that are provided by many insurance carriers.  Some of the things you can do on your own are:

  • Develop a set claim-reporting process for your office. Designate to whom they are reported and what the reporting process entails. Be sure that all incidents are properly documented with photographs, statements, and other supporting evidence.
  • Hold periodic safety meetings. These can be relatively infrequent, but should educate the employees about your claim reporting process, stance on fraudulent claims, and what they are covered for if an incident occurs. You should also go over locations or activities with increased risk in the workplace and the practices that can best avoid injury.
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