25 Years and Counting

Picture this:

Brooklyn, October 20, 1995.

I walked out of the offices of the insurance company I dedicated 13 years of my life to, into an unknown, unplanned, unintended future.

Medical insurance: none.

No rate books.

Lacking a company structure and culture.

Truly my own boss.

Thankfully, fully licensed.

Used a part-time position at H and R Block to learn the income tax preparation business from the world leaders.

While preparing taxes, I gave each tax prep client who came to my desk my calendar, card, and a list of my insurance services.

Prospecting. And the plan worked.

Many of those wonderful folk are still clients to this day.

25th year Jubilee
25 Years and Counting!

Many of those years weren’t filled with Harvard Business Review successes, but we never missed a meal and always wore clean clothes. Went to more movies than I can remember. Even attended NY Liberty games, and the theatre at least twice each year.

Sadly, Ashley and I survived the loss of her mother in 2002, and later, three of her grandparents.

But along the way, we found Prep For Prep, which led to Poly Prep, which led to Yale, (Lord to I miss going to Yorkside Pizza and enjoying their Chicken Tenders!). Now Ashley enjoys a stage and TV screen career whose trajectory is ever skyward.

I am blessed with agency agreements with Travelers, Kingstone, and Progressive insurance companies, as well as Guardian, and Globe Life, just to name a few. 

Empire Safety Council named me a  Delivery Agent and Instructor in April of 2000. Can’t wait to write my tell-all about some of those wild classes. Especially the time a married couple made out in the bathroom during class! 

And through it all, I still wake up each and every day and feel blessed to say, “Thank you Lord for another day to serve the public with the greatest products in the world. Even when they think they won’t be burglarized, suffer a disability, have a house fire, or die.”

And guess what? In my mind, I’m just getting started, really ready to rock and roll as I share decades of accumulated knowledge and experiences with anyone willing to learn.

Many thanks to my many wonderful clients, the companies which believed in me, and in my mission, and most of all to my world-class, true-gift-from-God-even-though-she-sometimes-drives-me-beserk-daughter, Ashley.

Without you kiddo, I don’t think I would have made it this far.

Here’s to at least 50 more. So what if I’m just a little bit greedy. I think I deserve it.

Love to all, and again, thank you.

Eustace L Greaves Jr.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr. LUTCF has enjoyed a career in insurance, income tax preparation, investments, and defensive driving instruction spanning nearly 39 years. You can reach him at his office number, 718-783-2722, his cell at 917-783-7209, or via email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. Please visit his website, https://greavesinsurance.com  where you can subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use.”

If you are ever in New Haven, Connecticut, take some time to order a great meal (like their Chicken Tenders) from Yorkside Pizza Restaurant. They are located at 288 York Street, New Haven, CT, 06511. Their telephone number is 203-787-7471, and their website address is www.yorksidepizza.com. Enjoy!,

Automobile Insurance Policy Danger In The Details

automobile insurance policy
Good auto insurance is hard to beat!

Automobile Insurance Policy Details Are Fraught With Danger

I enjoyed a great conversation with a nice gentleman the other day. He’d been referred to me for an automobile insurance policy. He readily admitted his last automobile insurance company dropped him back on July 1, 2020, for having two (2) “incidences” during the past three (3) years.

He tried, without success,  to acquire new coverage for two (2) months prior to his prior company’s non-renewal date. After many tries, he simply couldn’t understand why no one would take him up as his one accident was not-at-fault and the other incident, a moving violation, resulted only in a ticket, no points.

I ran him through one of my preferred companies and discovered why no one wanted to take him.

How Automobile Insurance Policy Owners Put Themselves In Danger

 

Auto and home insurance are analogous to term life insurance. Basically your coverage, unlike whole or permanent life insurance, runs out after a certain number of years. If your policy allows the coverage to continue, the premium skyrockets to an amount that becomes untenable to maintain. So you wind up losing your “cheap” insurance, usually at the same time it is most important for your family’s financial well being.

In New York State, auto and home insurance companies write you policies with a term of three (3) years. So, if you maintain a good auto driving record, for example, renewal is a no-brainer. Too many “incidences” though, and renewal may come at a hefty price, or not at all.

So. several years ago you called one of those over-the-phone, direct-to-a licensed advisor automobile insurance companies and got a terrific rate.

You just weren’t aware it could have even been better.

You didn’t know your new policy contained a ticking time bomb.

So you contacted your independent agent or broker who’d been through hell, high water, and even a couple of claims with you, canceled your current policies, and moved to your new company.

Which Rating Factors Matter Most To Automobile Insurance Companies When You Want To Move Your Policy?

How long you’ve been licensed.

Your gender and age.

Your insurance credit score.

How many current moving violations (with some companies, during a period of as many as five (5) years) are on your record when you apply.

Policy lapses for non-payment of premium.

License suspension or revocation.

The length of time you were without auto insurance. Nowadays, the lack of a personally owned auto insurance policy for more than 30 days even if you didn’t actually own a vehicle, will disqualify you from getting insurance from many companies. 1

And Finally, The One Factor Most Consumers Know Nothing About

Few, if any, of the major preferred companies take new business coming from indemnity or non-standard insurance companies.  

And that is where your company placed your coverage. Its indemnity or non-standard insurance company. The nice person on the phone never suggested you could request quotes for their Preferred or Standard companies. Or, even if you didn’t qualify for those companies now, you weren’t advised to try again in six (6) or twelve (12) months.

For this reason, you’re basically stuck with your automobile insurance company.

Your Policy Is Emblazoned With An Automobile Insurance Scarlet Letter

 

For this reason, and this reason alone, I couldn’t offer this gentleman a quote from any of my preferred companies. So, I took the only choice open to me. I gave him a quote from the New York Automobile Insurance Plan (NYAIP).  In many cases, the NYAIP is the last resort for those needing automobile insurance. 

The NYAIP quote? Close to $6,295 for one year, about $4,500 more than the quote I would have been able to get him from one of my preferred companies.

I called him back.

Told him the quote.

He said, “Forget it,” and hung up.

Why Do Some Automobile Insurance Companies Engage In These Practices?

Short answer? Got me. 

For many companies, the name of the game is increasing market share, no matter the immediate cost. So, if your profile permits, you will be placed into their Indemnity or Non-Standard company, offering you a competitive, lower premium just to get your business. Then as claims from other drivers in your Indemnity company roll in, your premium begins to increase. This increase will be imperceptible at first. Then one day, you will open your renewal envelope and receive the shock of your life. 

Even if your record is perfectly clean, when you begin calling other insurance companies to secure a lower-cost automobile insurance policy, your current indemnity policy status will prevent you from doing so.

What You Should Do Today

Find your automobile insurance policy and call the insurance company or agent. Ask whether you are in an Indemnity or Non-Standard automobile insurance company. If you are, request they requote your policy for either their preferred or standard company.

Now, when you want to switch companies, it won’t be the type of company preventing you from moving your coverage.


Notes:

1. In my previous post “8 Tips To Save Money On Your Automobile Insurance, (https://brooklyncovered.com/8-tips-to-save-money-on-your-automobile-insurance/)”,  I wrote about the good old days when most auto insurance companies allowed you to go from one to up to three years owning a personal auto insurance policy without extra premiums or flat-out rejection. Some companies didn’t even factor in the lack of automobile insurance, as long as you didn’t own a car in your own name. In either case,  I suggested the purchase of a monthly zip car membership where your membership automatically provided you with liability insurance coverage. This removed the necessity of maintaining a non-owned auto insurance policy. Thus, when you decided to purchase your own vehicle, the money you’d spent on the zip car membership:

Wound up saving you money on your new auto insurance policy as you’d been continuously insured, and,

Enabled you to qualify for a better or preferred company in an insurance company’s member companies. 


Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with over 38 years of experience. Eustace is ready to assist you with your life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, cooperative and condominium, and wedding insurance needs, and can be reached at 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. You can also contact him by going to his website and completing any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

If you’d like to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use,” go to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the “Subscribe” buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers and will continue to call on his expert contacts for help in the other areas. Just send him an email to eustace@insuremeeg.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”

What is a Loan Estimate?

graphic of a one-family house that speaks to the need for a home mortgage
Home is where the heart is.

What is a Loan Estimate?

Recently, a client asked me the following question:

“It has been years since I took out a mortgage. I notice that instead of the old Good Faith Estimate, I am getting a Loan Estimate. What is a Loan Estimate? Are they the same thing?”

When It’s Out of Your Comfort Zone, Seek Help

I am comfortable and qualified to questions concerning life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, co-op, and condominium insurance. I don’t possess the same knowledge levels about mortgages. So, I reached out to three of the top home mortgage lenders I know for their insights about the new Loan Estimate form.

Somehow, I know this will cost me big time down the road.

My Panel of Experts Answer The Question of “What Is A Loan Estimate?”

 

Ennell Esperance, a Senior Home Lending Advisor (NMLS ID: 68006) with the Home Lending Division of JPMorgan Chase Bank, provided me with some recent history about this topic.

In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency that regulates consumer financial instruments such as mortgages, retired the Good Faith Estimate form (in part) and created the Loan Estimate form.

On the Good Faith Estimate form,  lenders used their own language to describe the loans. Multiple estimates could seem very different. Consumers were confused by that document.

How Does The Loan Estimate Work?

 

The new Loan Estimate consolidates four forms into two: the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure.

The new Loan Estimate is a three-page form that you receive within three business days after you apply. It is not a loan approval or rejection. It simply gives you loan terms, projected payments, and closing costs for review.

Standardized Wording in The Loan Estimate


Leon T. Gelzer, Sr., (NMLS ID: 41256), is a Santander Bank Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) officer and Community Mortgage Development Loan Officer. He described how the Loan Estimate standardizes the wording that lenders can use. You’ll see which costs are fixed and which are not, allowing you to shop lenders.

Leon went on to say it also prevents surprise fees by establishing tolerance levels. If you do take the loan and the fee amount estimated is more than the amount paid, the lender makes up the difference.

I would imagine every mortgage lender does their best to avoid this reality.

How Loan Estimate Costs Are Broken Down

Peter Chace, a Mortgage Loan Officer (NMLS ID: 206181), with TD Bank directed me to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s website to view samples of the Loan Costs and Closing Disclosure forms (Click Here to go to the CFPB website) and highlighted how costs are also broken down in the following categories:

  • Loan Costs (origination charges, services you can’t shop for and services you can shop for) and Other Costs (taxes, government recording fees, pre-paid fees, and initial escrow payments, for example).

  • Closing Disclosure
    The Closing Disclosure is a five-page form that buyers receive before closing. It has the final terms and costs associated with the mortgage and specifies the amount of money you need on-hand at closing. Buyers can easily compare the Loan Estimate to the Closing Disclosure. Buyers will have three (3) days to review the form and ask questions.

I want to thank these gentlemen for being so generous in sharing their time with me, and ultimately, you.

Let’s Thank Our Experts

Here is the contact information you’ll need to reach of our experts who contributed:

Ennell Esperance can be reached by telephone at
718-810-7680, and by email at ennell.esperance@chase.com;
Leon T. Gelzer, Sr.’s office number is 718-302-5418. Leon’s email address is leon.gelzer@santander.us.
Peter Chace can be reached by telephone at 917-715-2818. Peter’s email address is Peter.chace@td.com.

You can also find a copy of the full Loan Estimator, with completed samples in English and Spanish at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/policy-compliance/guidance/mortgage-resources/tila-respa-integrated-disclosures/forms-samples/

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with over 38 years of experience. Eustace is ready to assist you with your life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, cooperative and condominium, and wedding insurance needs, and can be reached at 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. You can also contact him by going to https://greavesinsurance.com and completing any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

If you’d like to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use,” just to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the “Subscribe” buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers and will continue to call on his expert contacts for help in the other areas. Just send him an email to eustace@insuremeeg.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”

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.

 

 

Wash Your Hands and Your Face Too!

There’s More To Life Than Just Washing Your Hands

If there is one thing we will all take from the experience of surviving (hopefully), COVID-19, it is this:

We all learned the simple act of washing our hands properly and often is key to disease protection.

Well, to quote Derrick Coleman, “Well whoop dee ding dang do.”

No matter where you look during these Covid-19 days, you are reminded of the importance of handwashing. There are signs, videos, I mean, did most of us fail kindergarten? When I attended P. S. 129K for kindergarten, my essential education included education in the proper use of rhythm sticks, marching in a circle,  zipping up your pants before leaving the bathroom, and the correct way to wash our hands.

Oh, and eating pretzel sticks layered with enough giant salt crystals to give a bull elephant high blood pressure.

With all the hullabaloo about washing our hands, there is one important procedure no one is talking about.

What, pray tell, could it be?

Don’t Touch It. It May Be Filthier Than Your Hands

How about washing your face?

You know, the thing you’re not supposed to touch with your hands as you might transmit disease through the mucous membranes around your eyes, or into your mouth.

How many times do you wash your face each day, I mean really get your rag and soap it up and scrub your face until your skin glows? Not the glow from the makeup layered on your skin, but the healthy glow from facial pores saying, “Hallelujah! We see the light!”

Then, scrub your neck until there’s no dirt left to stain your collar.

Get Behind Your Ears, Too

And don’t forget to get the crud from behind your ears, and the surface wax and filth from the surface of your ears. It would be a shame for someone to actually want to nibble on them, only to gag and spit out whatever lives there.

So take the time to scrub your face, ears, and neck at least two or three times a day.

If nothing else, you’ll be touching a clean face with clean hands.

And you won’t be like Shrek, pulling enough earwax out of your ear to make a candle.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a New York State licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker who tends to look at life way differently than most people.

You can reach him at 718-489-2218, 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com for home, renters, life, disability, flood, coop condo insurance coverage quotes, and policy reviews.