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

No insurance company owns a monopoly on helping you customize your insurance.


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 and every other state in the Union.

Every company gives you the ability to customize your insurance.

Every single one.

The problem is that most consumers aren’t served by most of the television commercials aired today.

They are goaded into a perpetual state of dissatisfaction with their current career, even when their current career 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 their automobile insurance coverages. Inevitably, 14 out of 15 give the same answer, “Full Coverage.”

Not 25/50/10.

Not 250/500/100.

Full coverage.

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


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 coverage 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 is 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 case 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.
  • It is important 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 [email protected] or by completing the contact form on this page, or  one of the many contact forms on his website, https://greavesinsurance.com.



Disability Insurance and Mack Trucks

“Now, there are two types of company-sponsored disability plans, short-term and long term. As the name implies, short-term disability insurance usually replaces all or a portion of your income for a short period of time, usually, six months. Long-term disability, if the company provides such a benefit, will usually kick in once the short-term plan ends.”

The Mack Truck that hits you doesn’t always kill you…

I recently met with a client to review his financial portfolio. When the subject of disability insurance came up he scoffed at any need for further review as he,  “…Got a great plan at work. I’m not sure of all the details, I just heard it’s a great plan.” Since he brought his company benefit booklet with him,  we took a few minutes to see just how terrific it really was.

How many types of company-sponsored disability insurance plans are there?

There are two types of company-sponsored disability plans, short-term and long-term. As the name implies, short-term disability insurance usually replaces all or a portion of your income for a short period, usually, six months. Long-term disability, if the company provides such a benefit, will usually kick in once the short-term plan ends.

Are there any benefit limitations with these company-sponsored disability insurance plans?

One of the major problems with these plans are the limitations placed on your monthly benefit once you exceed a certain monthly income. A common benefit limit is 60% of income, up to $2,500.00 each month. This means if you earn an annual income of $50,000, for example, your monthly income is $4,166.67. When we calculate 60% of $4,166.67, that equals exactly $2,500.00. Which is great if you earn $50,000.00 annually. The problem begins when your annual income exceeds $50,000. If, for example, you earn $100,000.00, your greatest benefit will stay at $2,500. Meaning you are digging a deep financial hole with every company-sponsored disability income check you receive.
My clients’ income hovers around $75,000 each year.
Also, keep in mind these are company-sponsored plans. Unless they are part of a collective bargaining or other contractual agreement, there are absolutely no guarantees the company will provide these plans forever. Due to current economic conditions, several companies have changed or even discontinued company-sponsored health, disability and even life insurance programs to save money and keep the company afloat. Even in those cases where the plans were not discontinued, employees are expected to pick up more of the cost, or accept changes such as higher deductibles, and in some cases, new providers. Several well-known firms took the step of freezing management pensions and offering those affected 401(k) plans.In the case of my client, we agreed to revisit the subject as soon as he and his bride took time to revisit their budget.You see, his company-sponsored plan provided only short-term disability insurance coverage, without a bit of long-term coverage.

And the Mack Truck doesn’t always kill you.

Make it an outstanding day.


Eustace Greaves  Jr., LUTCF is the Owner and Principal of Greaves Financial Services and The Bridge Insurance Agency  in Brooklyn, NY. You can reach him by telephone at 718-783-2722, or by email at [email protected] .

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