Every time your policy is renewed
Some may find this a bit silly. If your rate hasn’t increased, why should you review your policy? Let’s take a look at it like this. You would be very upset if McDonald’s didn’t add meat to your hamburger if you went to McDonald’s. Before you submit your renewal payment, make sure to inspect the burger. You might be surprised at how your coverages have changed. You may be surprised at how your policy coverages or discounts have changed. Fairness to all insurance companies, I will admit that many of them send a “letter” to notify you. However, you quickly glance at the document and put it in your file drawer. Until your cousin, 5 years old blows up your garage with a gas can and blow torch. Have you made $50,000 worth of improvements to your home? It is worth checking to ensure that your home is covered. Good agents should let you know when it is time for a policy review.
Remove coverages that you don’t use
Are you able to rent an additional car? Do you need rental car insurance? Do you have group health insurance? Consider dropping coverage for personal injury and uninsured motorists. This applies to all types of insurance.
Get the highest deductible that you can afford with
This is fairly self-explanatory. There is no need to add any more detail. I also have to get to the garage. My cousin, five years old, disappeared just a few moments ago.
Search for Discounts
This post does not cover enough of the available discounts. Your agent should be contacted immediately to get the best deal. Good agents should be proactive in getting you information about discounts.
WARNING Don’t work with Discount or Cut-Rate Insurance agencies
You get what your pay for. Why complain if they don’t answer the telephone? If you are paying only $1 per month, then you should be content! What’s that? What happened to you? Too bad! I hope you have insurance …. oh wait! Yes, you do. It’s just that it was with a discount company whose slogan is “delay don’t pay”. This banner was actually hanging on the wall of a claims office at an “discount insurance company”. My experience is that it’s worth paying a little more each month to have the assurance that you will receive the 5-star service you require if you have any problems.
Combine your policies
Agents are often able to bundle your policies with other companies or groups of companies to offer you a substantial discount.
Find an agent who brings you “extra” value.
Are they able to provide fax/copy/notary services for free? Are they able to send bimonthly newsletters with useful tips and other information? Do they have any recommendations for vendors that can offer you discounted services?
BEWARE!… The Yellow Pages
This section can be skipped if you’ve had a positive experience with the yellow pages. However, I have found that asking your family and friends about their favorite insurance agents/companies is the best way to find one. It is not a good idea to rush through the yellow pages looking for “quick” quotes for “cheapest” insurance. If you don’t give the agent the time to ask lots of questions and search through all the available companies for the best match, you are cutting yourself off. If they are only working for one company, and have no one-size fits all solution, then you should just ignore them.
View the financial rating of insurance companies.
It doesn’t mean that you are ignorant about an insurance company. There are many great companies that you may not have heard of. It would be a good idea to verify their financial rating at www.ambest.com, or by simply asking the agent. A financial rating is basically an assessment of the insurance company’s financial condition. It is usually given by an independent rating agency (like a.m. best!). C is horrible and A+++ is great.
One thing that I’ve found is that smaller companies have better customer service and respond to claims faster. Ask your agent if they can recommend the company that offers the best price/service combination.
Find an agent who values you
Everybody has bad days. But if you are getting the runaround, unreturned calls, or an attitude that is not professional, it’s time to look for another agent. You should look for someone who is different from your bad agent. Good agents will take the time to answer all your questions, make you feel valued and appreciate you. If you have friends who need insurance, you will always remember a good agent and will recommend them to them. A good agent will thank you for referring them and send you a $10 gift certificate (like us!).