You Have Options When Shopping for Insurance

Hello All,

The true difficult part of shopping for insurance comes in recognizing you’ll be buying something you can’t see and, hopefully, will never use. It’s an odd situation, to be sure, but unless you’re financially prepared for everything (and few of us truly are) then you do have quite a few options when it comes to hunting for the right insurance for you.

Guarantee that you will be able to locate it when the time comes. Consider registering the company name with a database where your loved ones can always go to find it.

If you like your life simple, straightforward and uncluttered you can buy a low-maintenance insurance policy directly from a insurance company, agent or website – term life insurance and auto insurance are two that come to mind right away. Convenient and with a wide variety of products to choose from, these types of policies can have somewhat lower premiums due to reduced transaction fees. Purchasing insurance online has its own benefits, not the least of which is that it’s easy to compare insurance prices and quotes and do it at your own leisure, without any hassling sales pressure. If you have more complex needs or are seeking advice, an independent or exclusive insurance agent or broker can guide you through the steps. An independent agent typically represents more than one company while exclusive brokers do business through only one company.

As convenient as it is, it’s just as important for you to choose the right insurance company. Lower premiums and convenience don’t mean much if your insurance provider goes out of business. A number of consumer advocate companies, such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, rate insurers with both a letter grade and with full financial ‘health’ reports. Insurance companies can also provide their own ratings. It isn’t necessary that the company you choose have the highest rating for your needs, but you should avoid the ones with the lowest ratings, those on ‘credit watch’, and ones with a high proportion of negative comments or feedback. Don’t discount word-of-mouth as you find the companies with the best customer service records, but it may be impossible or impractical to expect to get a clear idea of a company just from asking other people. Check company websites and talk to customer service reps, asking about the services they offer. You can also check up on a company by talking with your state department of insurance to find if any complaints have been filed against the provider. Obviously, fewer or no complaints should foretell a quality insurance company.

No matter the type of insurance you’re after, the actual purchasing process is basically the same. You’ll get a tentative quote by talking to the provider, or one of their agents, via phone or the internet. You’ll fill out an application and possibly answer a battery of questions. If you’re buying health or life insurance you’ll also take a medical exam to find out how much the premiums will be for the coverage you need. Once you’ve submitted your application, the underwriting process starts, with an insurance underwriter verifying the information you’ve supplied and possibly getting more helpful information from other sources such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, hospital and doctor records, credit agencies and the Medical Information Bureau. The underwriter then uses this information to decide whether or not to approve your application, issue your policy with an extra premium or decline you coverage.
 
Until next time,

Michael Hartmann
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