Let’s Set The Record Straight About – Customizing Your Insurance

Today’s clever insurance commercials are a necessary evil. They provide more information about bundling and saving, and less about the coverages you, your family, and your business really need.

We can change that by simply asking the right questions.

Customizing Your Insurance

There is no insurance company that owns a monopoly on helping you customize your insurance.

None.

Commercials, Commercials, Commercials

Commercials are designed to increase brand awareness using gimmicks including celebrity spokespersons, animals, car crashes and chases, and well, anything they think you will remember when it is time to buy insurance.

Does Every Company Allow You To Customize Your Insurance?

You can customize your home, life, auto, renters, co-op, condo, disability, long term care, personal umbrella, and yes, even your flood insurance with any company licensed to do business in the State of New York as well as every other state in the Union.

Every company gives you the ability to customize your insurance.

Every single one.

Problem is, most consumers aren’t served by most of the television commercials aired today.

They are simply goaded into a perpetual state of dissatisfaction with their current carrier, even when their current carrier is doing a good job for them.

It’s What Consumers Don’t Know About Their Insurance Which Hurts Them

Each year, I make at least 25 insurance-based presentations for HUD-approved housing agencies and organizations such as Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, Harlem Churches for Community Improvement, and Impacct. I always ask those in attendance to tell me what their automobile insurance coverages are. Inevitably, 14 out of 15 give the same answer, “Full Coverage.”

Not 25/50/10.

Not 250/500/100.

Full coverage.

And when I ask them how much their policies cover in the event of an accident, they usually reply that they’re not really sure, but they did save money by bundling their home and auto.

Yay,

Buying What You Need Is A Two-Edged Sword

As long as the policy or policies quoted for you meet your state’s required minimum coverages limits, buying the cheapest policy or bundle possible is actually all you need.

What if though, you just struck and killed a pedestrian, or lost control of your vehicle and totaled a house. Will your policy provide you with the actual amount of money you will need when the jury hands down some obscenely massive award against you?

Imagine coming home to find;

  • Your home on fire.
  • Two (2) feet of toxic sewage water sloshing about your finished basement.
  • Burglars paid you an expensive visit while you are at work or the market.
  • Your good dog had a bad day.
  • There are three feet of floodwater in your home and you don’t own a flood insurance policy.

What Questions Should I Ask?

  • What, if any hoops must I jump through in case of a claim?
  • Are policy coverages or exceptions more important to know?
  • Why do I have duties after a loss?
  • In the event of a covered cause of loss, how easily will my claim be settled?
  • Is your claim service fair?


What Should My Insurance Company and/or Independent Agent and Broker teach Me?

  • Why buying home insurance based on your home’s replacement cost is essential.
  • How to determine your condominium and cooperative apartment “walls in” insurance coverage based on what a licensed contractor would charge to completely repair fire or water damaged walls, ceilings, and floors.
  • The importance for renters to complete a personal home inventory, down to the last sweat sock.
  • How owning Life and Disability insurance will prevent financial disaster should death or disability destroy the earning power of a family breadwinner.
  • Reasons why every property policy should include Water and Sewer Backup coverage. And why every cooperative and condominium apartment owner should add the Loss Assessment endorsement to their coverage.
  • Why buying flood insurance, even when their home is not in a high-risk flood zone, is a smart financial move.

And, of course, what coverages do I actually need to protect my family and home from most disasters?

The other day a woman asked me for my honest opinion of who I felt was the best insurance company out there.

My answer?

The one with whom you secured the proper policies, with sufficient coverages, which is in force at the time of your claim.

A company that won’t make you jump through hoops to settle a  claim fairly. An independent insurance agent and broker willing and able to service your policies. With premiums accurately reflecting the coverages your policies provide.

Nothing else matters.

As for the commercials, well, give my regards to Broadway.

At least until we can enjoy live theater again. Until then, stay healthy and safe.

 

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an independent insurance agent and broker, licensed to conduct business in New York State. Contact Eustace at 718-783-2722, 718-489-2218, by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com or by completing the contact form on this page, or  one of the many contact forms on his website, https://greavesinsurance.com.

 

 

3 Reasons To Dislike Quoting Auto Insurance

What is the company’s name? (Word to the wise, many auto insurance companies will not write a policy for someone coming out of an indemnity company. Think New York Automobile Insurance Plan with a fancy name attached. Another reason to always ask which company you’re being written in and whether or not this is an indemnity company. Better to pay an exorbitant premium for a year or two, and then, all things considered, move into a less expensive company within that company’s family of companies.)

The New Realities of Quoting Auto Insurance

Now, don’t get me wrong, my profession is providing and servicing personal lines insurance, including auto insurance, and I love my profession. Over three decades as an insurance agent and broker, I’ve come to realize, however,  there are three main reasons I dislike quoting auto insurance for strangers calling on the phone who are just shopping around for the cheapest automobile insurance quote they can get.

Reason number 1:

Too many people are under the impression that just because they can fog up a mirror, they are entitled to buy good, cheap auto insurance whenever they want, no matter  their driving history.

So what if they have moving violations, haven’t ever been insured to drive a car, have a suspended or revoked license, or just had same reinstated?

So what if their father once put several cars under their child’s name, and on their child’s auto insurance policy, cars driven by other people who collected accidents like leaches suck blood?

So what if there are three tombstones in the local cemetery directly attributable to their inability to control a vehicle?

So what if they have a DUI, DWI, or DWAI in the last ten (10) years?

You see, their cousin has insurance with your company, and they pay a low premium so you should give me a better rate.

They don’t realize their cousin has done all the right things throughout their driving career to earn that premium.

Reason number 2:

Now, providing anyone with a quote will, in the best of circumstances, take at least 20 to 30 minutes. So now I open with a series of qualifying questions, the same questions I will need answered to develop an automobile insurance quote. Some of them are;

What is your date of birth? Your Social Security number?

What kind of work do you do? How long have you done this type of work?

What is the name of your employer? How long have you worked there? What’s the address of the firm?

Have you ever had your driver’s license suspended or revoked? If so, which one, for how long, and when did you regain the privilege to drive? (Word to the wise, many companies will automatically disqualify you for these transgressions. Come on, be honest, would you loan your car to a friend with a lousy driving record? Yet you want insurance companies to insure you?)

How long have you been continuously licensed in the United States?

How long have you had auto insurance in your name, or been insured under someone else’s policy? (If you’ve neither owned a policy nor been insured under someone else for as little as one week you will pay a higher premium.)

How long have you been insured with the other auto insurance company? (If you’ve had a license for 15 years, but never owned a car, only rented when you had to, you will pay a higher premium.)

What is the company’s name? (Word to the wise, many auto insurance companies will not write a policy for someone coming out of an indemnity company. Think New York Automobile Insurance Plan, (NYAIP), with a fancy name attached. Another reason to always ask which company you’re being written in and whether or not this is an indemnity company. Better to pay an exorbitant premium for a year or two, and then, all things considered, move into a less expensive company within that company’s family of companies.)

How many and what kinds of accidents were you involved in during the last five (5) years? (Word to the wise, having two or more “incidents” involving either accidents or moving violations during the last two (2) to three (3) years will make you ineligible for insurance with many companies, forcing you to go into the NYAIP for what I call rehabilitation.)

While we’re on the topic, how many moving violations, and how many points have you accumulated during the last five (5) years?

Recently a young man from Baldwin, NY called my office for a quote.First, he called and didn’t leave a number, so I used my caller ID to call him back. He asked me if I was Travelers, and I informed him my agency is an independent insurance agency associated with Travelers. Then, came the dreaded request of “I want a quote.”

So I began to ask him my qualifying questions, and  he hesitated (always a bad sign) when I asked him if his license had ever been suspended and/or revoked (it had been). To top it off, he hadn’t been insured for over 5 months, was under the age of 25, and unmarried.

So, informing him my main companies wouldn’t insure him, I prepared a New York Automobile Insurance Plan quote for him. He only asked for liability on a relatively new automobile, and simply hung up when I gave him the premium.

Not even so much as a goodbye.

He could afford to buy the car. Can’t afford to insure it.

You can click here to see a copy of my Auto Insurance Quote Worksheet.

Reason number 3:

You see, just because you can buy a car doesn’t mean you can afford to insure it.

You can buy a car with no money down, but  you can’t buy auto insurance without making at least a minimum downpayment. Owning a car means you must maintain it, keep it insured, and avoid parking it on the wrong side of the street on alternate days. My clients usually call me before they buy a new car based on the year, make and model, so they will have a good idea of what their new budget will look like. That’s when I love to quote auto insurance, when it’s a client or a client referral on the phone. Those referred to me are usually fully compliant with all the questions, and it’s just a matter of getting the information into the computer.

So, you shouldn’t get mad at me because you now own, or are trying to pick up some beauty from the lot, and the insurance is too high for you.

Suggestions?

Suggestion number 1:

If you don’t own a vehicle, buy a Non-Owned Automobile Insurance policy from say, me. Then when you do purchase a car, you will be able to answer “how long have you been continuously insured” question satisfactorily. Purchase your renters, condo, coop, or homeowners insurance from say, me, and you’ll not only realize discounts on both policies, you stand a better chance of a great rate when you are ready to own a car.

Suggestion number 2:

You can join a car-share program like Zipcar, and take advantage of being insured under their policy until you buy your own Non-Owned policy, or buy your own car.

Suggestion number 3:

Lastly, you can speak to a family member about being placed on their policy. WARNING! WARNING! Don’t take offense if they are hesitant to do this. Remember, should you cause or be involved in an accident, (see Reason number 1), this will affect their premium, and perhaps their own insurability for up to five (5) years. Get moving violations and this will affect their premium. And God forbid you get arrested for a DUI after causing an accident which leads to the death of the other driver or their passenger or the passenger in your car. Your family member could stand to lose everything they’ve worked for, just to help you out.

For my money, I’d use suggestions numbers one and two. Just safer that way.

So, in closing, be ready to establish a relationship with an independent agent, and do what you need to do today to guarantee a great automobile insurance rate tomorrow.

For 33 years, the last 20 of those operating his own financial services agency, Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF has enjoyed providing his clients with the personal lines insurance coverages, income tax services, and defensive driving workshops they need to better their financial lives. 

Call him at 718-783-2722, or send him an email to Eustace@insuremeeg.com for a competitive quote for all of your insurance needs.

And please, don’t make fun of him if he groans when you say, “I’d like a quote.”