All the Insights About Insurance You’ve Ever Wanted to Know

insights about insurance andthenwesaved.com

This is a sponsored post, but, as always, my opinions are my own.

Insurance is one of those things that is NOT super fun to talk about. It’s right up there with the dentist, and prying yourself off the couch from a Netflix marathon to go out in the freezing snow for a 15 mile run followed by 700 sit-ups. It’s like, the very last thing on the TO DO list, ever (at least for me). Plus, I always feel like, “Am I getting the best deal? And, freakin’ a – how the hell am I supposed to know how much coverage I even need?!!” It can be a dreadful process but dealing with insurance is just one of those things that come along with being a straight-up Certified Adult.

When we were looking for homeowners insurance we went with the company our real estate agent recommended because we were in a time crunch. We had to have coverage by the closing date. Because we were in a rush we didn’t shop around, and we didn’t do our research. That’s definitely not an ideal situation so once things settled down, we went back, shopped around, found out that we were paying WAY TOO MUCH, and we ended up switching to a company that gave us far better customer service, along with, and most importantly, better coverage at a way better price.

Insurance is, no doubt, an important part of solid financial planning. We know this. We need to find the perfect combo of THE BEST DEAL POSSIBLE, and, ideally we would have an expert looking out for our best interests. Trusted Choice is a company that is basically what would happen if your best friend turned into a super knowledgable, trust-worthy, insurance agent. They know the ins-and-outs, they ask you all the right questions, they set you up with the best coverage at the best price and then come over and share a pizza with you, while watching The Bachelor. You know I just made up that last part but they would do that if they could:P.

So, here’s the deal- Trusted Choice connects you with an insurance agent based on your location and needs. The insurance agent then connects you with the best insurance policy (or policies) at the best price. Also, since their agents aren’t limited to writing policies for any one carrier they skip the sales pitch, and just get right to helping you as quickly as possible so you can hurry up and end the insurance misery, and get on with your life already.

I got to ask them a few questions about insurance, and about how they work. While it is a bit lengthy it’s def worth the read. Tons of great info.

Btw, the agent who answered these is named Paul Martin. Here’s a bit about him: Paul Martin, CPCU, is a 30-year insurance professional. Over the course of his career, Paul has focused on advancing the insurance industry, and has excelled in a variety of positions including independent agent, commercial underwriter, company manager, association director, and industry educator. Paul’s professional mission is to make members of the insurance industry better equipped to serve the public through education.
Just a heads up. If you have any questions about insurance that aren’t answered below you can send them a tweet (@askanagentTC), or submit a question and an agent will respond.

 

All the Insights about Insurance You’ve Ever Wanted to Know…

Questions about Trusted Choice

And Then We Saved: What does TrustedChoice.com do exactly?

Trusted Choice: Independent insurance agents own their own businesses and can represent multiple insurance companies. If one insurance company isn’t the fit the customer needs, the independent agent finds another company that is. They shop for insurance for their customer, and most times have many options to match the customer’s needs with the right coverage. This also means you can get all of your insurance policies (home, auto, business, whatever) through one agent, rather than having to work with various agencies separately.

The big insurance company names that most people recognize are typically represented by what are known as “captive agents.”  There’s nothing wrong with the company, or the agent and they may be good people, with years of experience. The difference is that a captive agent is limited to just the one insurance company for whom they can write insurance. They are stuck with what the big brand has to offer, and that’s it, which can mean higher premiums, more restrictive coverage, or fewer options to customize the policy.

TrustedChoice.com is the bridge that connects consumers with independent agents, helping customers find an agent near them who specializes in the kind of insurance they need.

ATWS: How long has TrustedChoice.com been in business? 

TC: TrustedChoice.com launched in 2012. The brand Trusted Choice dates back further to 2001, when independent agents re-branded together to be Trusted Choice Agents, to help give themselves a unified identity nationwide.

ATWS: How many agents are there?

TC: There are 22,000 Trusted Choice agencies in 27,000 locations, which employ over a hundred thousand individual agents.

ATWS: What kind of training, qualifications and credentials are required of the agents? 

TC: All agents are licensed insurance professionals (in the states they are operating) who support the Trusted Choice pledge of performance. Individuals are subject to rigorous ethical and continuing education requirements.

ATWS: Where can consumers go to verify an insurance agents credentials and ratings? (Are there public records of licenses and credentials consumers can view online?) 

TC: Absolutely—each state keeps a registry of insurance licenses, as well as customer complaints against agencies. Check with your state’s department of insurance for more information.

ATWS: Where can consumers go to verify an insurance company’s credentials, financials, and ratings?

TC: Same as above.

 

Questions for Insurance Agents

ATWS: When looking for an insurance agent what questions should consumers ask?

TC: People should ask questions related to three important areas: the agent’s/agency’s experience in handling the insurance needs of customers like me; the companies they represent that write insurance for someone like me; and the financial health of the insurance company in which they would place my insurance. You want someone you feel you can trust, not only to purchase from but to be your advocate through the whole process.

ATWS: Are there any “red flags” consumers should be aware of? How can consumers know if an agent is legit?

TC: The length of time an agency has been in business is a good indicator of success and stability. Referrals and testimonials from friends, family, and community members are also a plus. Basically, the more unknowns there are about the current success of an agency, the riskier it may be. Independent agents are known for playing open and enthusiastic roles in their communities, so that can make it easier to get a feel for who they are and what they are about.

ATWS: How should consumers determine how much coverage they need? What’s the best way to assess the value of items?

TC: This is something to discuss with your agent—rely on them as an expert, not just a salesperson. Then determine what it would cost to replace the items in question—this can be difficult and is honestly best done with an inventory. (Just think through what’s in your closet–how many of each item, what you paid for each, and so on—you might be surprised at the dollar amount you end up with, and that’s just the closet!)  One suggestion is to take a video and narrate as you walk around the rooms of your home or apartment. This way you at least have a visual reference if you need it. Even with a full inventory, you probably still want to build in a buffer to cover anything you forgot.

ATWS: How can consumers be sure they’re not over-paying for their insurance?

TC: You can’t, really, unless you explore the marketplace. Pricing can vary based on a huge number of variables, which is where Trusted Choice agents can help—they have access to rate information specific to your scenario and can help you compare prices to find the best deal. The only other option is to do that legwork yourself, getting specific quotes from a variety of providers one at a time.

ATWS: Are there common mistakes you see consumers making when selecting insurance?

TC: First, young adults often still think about insurance as if they’re in college, when the goal is to pay as little as possible. But they aren’t in college anymore, and have more assets that need to be protected (and that they would want to be adequately protected if anything happened.)

The second common mistake is people paying too much—this can often happen if you are thinking about policies as individual products (home, renter’s, etc.), rather than as a whole package. We can shop around to find you the best value, and then often create package discounts for having all your policies together. This may not be an option for captive agents.

The third mistake is not customizing and adapting your insurance as your life changes. Every coverage area should be monitored and adjusted over time as needed based on changes in income, family situation, assets, etc.

ATWS: When accidents do happen is there something that comes up that consumers wish they had done differently?

TC: Almost always, yes. It could be a small thing or something major. A smaller thing might be needing to add a special amendment to your homeowners policy increasing your theft limit for jewelry if you own several valuable pieces and your regular policy only covers up to $2500. It seems like a minor detail, but if your jewelry ever is stolen, you can only be reimbursed up to that $2500 and will be out the rest of the value of your pieces.

A big thing might be if your house burns down and you go to rebuild, and realize it costs more to rebuild than you thought and your coverage is not enough. Your policy amount need to account for things like inflation, building regulation changes, rising materials costs, etc. You don’t want to run out of coverage funding before the build is completed—otherwise, all remaining costs are out-of-pocket for you.

The moral of the story is to understand your policy well and ask if you ever think there are holes to fill. Use your agent as a resource!

ATWS: There are so many different options when it comes to insurance. Generally speaking, what kind of insurance do people need throughout the different stages of life?

TC: Single – At this point in your life, you tend to have less stuff, but you want to protect what you do have with a renter’s policy. These are generally super inexpensive, like $10-$15 a month, and cover you if anything happens to your belongings, such as a fire in your building or a break-in.

Married and living in an apartment – Same as above, except you might be looking at multiple cars, and now you have common ownership and common liability. The main thing here is that all of your policies need to cover you both. Life insurance also becomes more important, since you want to make sure your spouse is taken care of if something happens to you, and it is cheapest when you’re young and healthy.

Married, with a child and a house – Same as above, but you may want additional life insurance coverage since there are additional dependents. Homeowners insurance is generally not optional if you have a mortgage—it’s required by most lenders. At some point you may also want to consider an umbrella policy, which covers you above and beyond the limits of your other policies. For example, your car insurance can cover you up to $500,000 of liability, but anything above that in a wreck would be covered by umbrella insurance rather than being out-of-pocket for you.

ATWS: If someone had very little extra money what is the bare minimum type, or amount, of insurance they should get/have?

TC: In priority, order…first, auto insurance first (it’s legally required, and is the most likely way you’d be exposed to liability in the case of an accident.) Then, renter’s insurance to protect your own property (it’s very inexpensive, and keeps you from losing everything in the case of something like a fire in your building.) Finally, low-limit life insurance so that if something happens to you, the financial burden for dealing with that won’t fall on someone else (coverage of $10-15,000 in many cases should be sufficient.) Funerals can be expensive, and there will be other costs in the case of your passing, so this is a good and inexpensive way to make sure your family members are taken care of.

 

Aaron didn’t have renter’s insurance when his neighbor’s 3 month old, dried-up Christmas tree caught on fire, and ended up sending the entire building up in flames. Thankfully everyone who lived there was safe but I will always remember how he had to start over after that. Has a situation happen to you where you were super thankful for your insurance coverage? 

This is a sponsored post, but, as always, my opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the partners that help to make this site possible! xo, Anna

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  1. Heather

    I will NEVER skimp on insurance again! Right after college I was broke and also being young and naive, thought I was pretty invincible. I never had renter’s insurance and I moved twice without buying coverage for the moving truck.

    The third time I moved, I was living on the edge financially. I had a student debt, a low paying job, and no savings. Again, I skipped the $15 insurance on the UHAUL, but then, decided last minute to suck it up and buy it.

    BEST decision ever. Driving through an underground narrow tunnel (I live in a city), a car drifted into my lane. In an attempt to avoid being hit, I panicked and crashed into the side of the tunnel. First car accident of my life in a huge truck and it was terrifying. Best $15 I ever spent on that insurance, it saved me from thousands of dollars repairing the truck. I learned my lesson and, despite being on the spending diet, I’ve classified insurance as a “need”. I have renters, auto, disability, and comprehensive health insurance. Despite the cost, I think it’s worth every penny to avoid a potential financial catastrophe.

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