Bundle Insurance Coverages, Or Else | Brooklyn Covered

According to a recent article in The Insurance Journal, a major insurance company announced plans to drop their North Carolina homeowers insurance clients who didn’t bundle, or combine, their automobile insurance policy with the same company. As many as 45,000 homeowners insurance customers were due to be non-renewed unless they bundled insurance coverages for their home and automobile insurance from this carrier by December 15, 2011.

Bundle Insurance Coverages, Or Else

According to a recent article in The Insurance Journal, a major insurance company announced plans to drop their North Carolina homeowners insurance clients who didn’t bundle, or combine, their automobile insurance policy with the same company. As many as 45,000 homeowners insurance customers were due to be non-renewed unless they bundled insurance coverages for their home and automobile insurance from this carrier by December 15, 2011.

The company doesn’t plan to simply let these former policyholders fend for themselves. They’ve already made arrangements with other companies to provide these former policyholders with coverage.

Let’s look at the positives of bundling insurance coverages.

  1. Bundling insurance coverages saves money. When you place one or more policies with the same company, you can qualify for what’s known as a multi-policy discount. This discount, depending on the company, can range from 5% to 15% on each policy you have with the same company.
  2. Bundling makes it easier to keep up with all your coverages. Now you won’t have to call two (2) or more agent or servicing companies to stay on top of your insurance. 
  3. Purchasing Umbrella Insurance. Adding an Umbrella Liability policy to your insurance portfolio is a cost-effective method of protecting your property from loss in case of a liability claim against you. To qualify to buy this coverage, many companies now require you to have both your auto and homeowners coverage with them. One reason for this is to guarantee the insured continually carries certain minimum personal liability amounts on each policy. And, the company knows immediately if either policy lapses, which could invalidate the umbrella policy coverage.

While there are positives, this “Forced-Bundling,” (sounds a bit like force-placed homeowners insurance doesn’t it?) does raise several critical questions. 

  1. What is their financial relationship with these other companies? Are they truly separate entities, or will they be some type of wholly owned subsidiary?
  2. How will this company compensate its agents for the loss of income they stand to face? Imagine an agent losing 50 – 250 clients in one fell swoop. This will create a huge loss of income during difficult economic times.
  3. Will they allow their agents to become licensed agents for these other insurance companies, or will that ability only be offered to  preferred agencies? Even if they allow all of their agents to seek agency contracts with the new companies, will those companies only offer agency contracts to the best and/or largest agencies?
  4. How will these same agents deal with the loss of community confidence and good will? People tend not to like being dictated to, and the easiest person to whom they can voice their displeasure is their local agent. And, they’ll vote with their feet, wallets and pocketbooks.
  5. How does the underwriting and claims handling ability of the  new companies compare with that of the original company?
  6. What if you’re paying less for your automobile insurance at another company, even while taking the multi-policy discount into effect? Why should you be forced to pay more than what you’re paying now with another carrier?
  7. Let’s suppose you have terrible credit and/or a lousy driving record. You may not even meet the basic underwriting criteria for any of this company’s auto insurance companies. What will happen then?

This situation will anger many, and that’s understandable. One of my clients claimed it was akin to being held up at gunpoint in a dark alley with the criminal telling you, “You’d better give me some money or I’m going to shoot you.”

And just your luck, you’re wearing your jogging shorts.

The ones without the pockets.

 I’ll let you know how this works out for all parties concerned.

 

Save Money on Homeowners Insurance|Brooklyn Covered

The most important part of purchasing homeowners insurance is not the price of the policy, it’s the replacement / reconstruction cost estimate. This becomes your policys Coverage A or Dwelling Coverage amount. Without the proper Dwelling Coverage, you put yourself in the position of having to self-fund part of the reconstruction cost of a damaged home at 140% on the dollar. Why 140%?…

How Do I Save Money On My Homeowners Insurance Policy?

A homeowners insurance policy is just worthless sheets of paper unless it gives you the dollars and coverages you’ll need to rebuild your home and your life when a covered loss occurs. 

What’s Most Important When Buying Homeowners Insurance?

The most important part of purchasing homeowners insurance is not the policy premium. What matters most is determining the replacement, or reconstruction cost estimate. This becomes your policys Coverage A or Dwelling Coverage amount. This is the amount of coverage your policy will generate for covered causes of loss.

 Without the proper Coverage A – Dwelling Coverage, you put yourself in the position of having to self-fund part of the reconstruction cost of a damaged home at 140% on the dollar. Why 140%? Well you have to pay taxes on your  gross income before you realize the net income. Also, all the other coverages in Section I of the Homeowners policy represent a percentage of the Coverage A – Dwelling Coverage amount. So a competent replacement estimate is the essential component necessary for building a sound Homeowners Insurance policy.

So, Any Insurance Broker Or Agent Will Do?

No, you should seek to work with an insurance professional who will invest the time necessary for gathering information about you and either your future or existing home. This is key. I have clients who chose me because after talking to me during the initial phone call, they had to go back and find out more information about their home than they thought necessary. Information, in many cases, other so-called professionals either didn’t take the time to ask, or simply didn’t care.  In most cases, you’ll prefer working with a “Mr. Nosey” than someone who simply wants to know what you paid for the house, or how much coverage you now carry. Another way to find a trusted insurance representative is by contacting local housing organizations. They work with many homeowners and are good sources of information and referrals for all the professionals you’ll need as a homeowner. 

Once the information is gathered, a true insurance professional will use either a computer or paper-based system to determine your future or existing homes replacement cost. The  brick for brick, nail for nail, pipe for pipe, wire for wire, and board for board amount necessary to put your home back together again. Then you’ll truly have a sense of how much insurance is really necessary to properly cover your home.

Here’s a small sample of the types of information you should be prepared to provide your insurance representative:

  • The square footage measured using the outside walls.
  • The types of flooring materials used in the house and the percentage of each.
  • Whether the walls are plaster, drywall, or some other material and the percentage of each.
  • The number of kitchens and bathrooms, and whether they are builders grade, or have some form of customization.
  • What kind of roofing material you use.
  • What type of heating system you use.
  • Maintenance and upgrade information about your roof, plumbing, heating, and electrical systems. A good insurance representative will want to know maintenance or upgrade dates, and whether a licensed professional performed the work. (Note: few, if any insurance companies will insure any home which doesn’t have circuit breakers. Fuses will result in the automatic non-renewal or rejection of your policy.)
  • Whether you have any pets, especially any of the no-no breeds, (Dobermans, Akitas, Pit Bulls and Wolf Hybrids to name just a few). Also, if any of your pets have a bite history, even that lovable little Yorkie which loves to nip strangers, you might want to seek out a company which is more forgiving about that type of risk exposure.

When It Comes To The Basic Coverages, Are Any Companies Really Cheaper? 

When you compare most Homeowners Insurance policies using an apples-to-apples comparison, (Same dwelling amount, same policy form, same state), you’ll find most companies homeowners insurance premiums for policies with the same coverages are usually within $50.00 to $100.00 of each other. So here are a few tips to really impact the premium amount you’ll pay for your Homeowners Insurance coverage:

  • An excellent credit score and history. If you have repossessions, collection items, judgements, late payments, and bankruptcies in the last five (5) years of your credit history, you will pay more for insurance. In extreme cases, you may even be denied. For example, I recently insured two (2) homes in Brooklyn. Both were in the same neighborhood, of similar construction, and had the same replacement cost. One familys premium was $1650.00, while the other familys premium was $2550.00. The difference? The first family owned a credit score you’d kill for. The second family owned a credit score which was killing them.
     
  •  Many companies will give you a first-year credit of 10-14% if you are a first-time homebuyer. Great, right? Just one thing: This credit decreases over a period averaging 10 years. Still, a great way to save money when you first purchase your home.
     
  • Along with number 2, purchasing a brand-new home  generates an additional discount.
  •  Installing a central-station monitored burglar and/or fire alarm system in your home will qualify you for policy discounts of 10-15% with most companies. Keep in mind insurance companies will not give you credit for the system without the proof of installation letter from the alarm company.
     
  • If an alarm system is not financially feasible, buy fire extinguishers. Along with the installation of deadbolt locks, you can realize a premium discount of 5%.
     
  • You should consider bundling your auto insurance with your home insurer. Some companies give up to a total of 30% in discounts, and this will be a nice piece of the savings “pie.” And, you also qualify for a similar discount on your auto insurance.
     
  • For more protection, you should considering purchasing a Personal Umbrella Liability policy. This policy provides added liability coverage starting in increments of $1,000,000.00. This generates more discounts and provides an extra layer of protection against third-party claims, whether or not they’re justified.
     
  • Choose a higher deductible. You’ll save about $200.00 annually by choosing a $1,000.00 deductible over a $500.00 deductible. If you bank the savings each year in what I call your “Deductible Account,” you’ll have your deductible in five (5), and have earned interest in the interim. Remember, “The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.”
     
  • Last but not least, consider your home’s construction. Brick homes usually cost less to insure than brick. Why? Remember, bricks get damaged, but wood burns.

So, What’s My Next Step?

Want more information, or your own up-to-date replacement / reconstruction cost estimate of your home? Well,  just drop me an email to eustace@brooklyncovered.com  or eustace@insuremeeg.com . Please include your name and a daytime contact telephone number. Or go to my website, https://insuremeeg.com and download a copy of my Property Insurance Worksheet.

Thanks for reading, and please, tell a friend.

Two People Who Want To Kill Their Infant|BrooklynCovered

And the sad part? These two should-have-never-been-able-to-conceive excuses for parents would demand their insurance company provide the best care for their infant. As the child grew, they would demand the public school system provide the best possible education for their child. They would probably also demand their state and local legislators change existing estate planning laws re: Special Needs Children just so their child would benefit from greater access to lifelong services and funding.

Some Parents Treat Their Children Like They’re A Major Inconvenience

So, there we were, myself and Salvatore Cataldo, owner of the soon-to-be world-famous Cataldo’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria (www.cataldos54.com), at 564 Vanderbilt Avenue, standing outside of his restaurant this morning, Sunday, August 21, 2011 at approximately 11:20 am.

The sun shone brightly (the biblical rain I am listening to outside my window wasn’t falling this morning), and as Sal and I spoke, I saw what can only be described as the complete disregard for an infants well-being by what passes for parents today.

Heading north on Vanderbilt Avenue were two couples, and both fathers were responsible for transporting their babies on their bicycles. The second father was doing everything right. The child wore a protective helmet of the proper fit and size. The child was also secured in a protective bicycle seat. Even better, both Dad and Mom were wearing bicycle helmets. Great.

It was, however, Dad and Mom number 1 who made me want to run out into the street and snatch their child from their stupid grasp.

Dad number 1, you see, was carrying what looked like an infant in one of those cloth baby carriers. You know the kind I’m talking about. They’re made of cloth and designed to support the infant’s head while allowing their little arms and legs to move. Something you wouldn’t put a child older than one year of age in. They provide absolutely no protection in an accident. Worse yet, the little infant lacked any form of head protection.

Breaking The Law, Breaking The Law

Article 34, section 1238 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law is quite specific about the minimum age of passenger on bicycles. It states;

Section 1238. Passengers on bicycles under one year of age prohibited; passengers and operators under fourteen years of age to wear protective headgear.   1. No person operating a bicycle shall allow a person who is under one year of age to ride as a passenger on a bicycle nor shall such person be carried in a pack fastened to the operator. A first violation of the provisions of this subdivision shall result in no fine. A second violation shall result in a civil fine not to exceed fifty dollars.

2. No person operating a bicycle shall allow a person one or more years of age and less than five years of age to ride as a passenger on a bicycle unless: (a) such passenger is wearing a helmet meeting standards established by the commissioner. For the purposes of this subdivision wearing a helmet means having a helmet of good fit fastened securely upon the head with the helmet straps; and

(b) such passenger is placed in a separate seat attached to the bicycle and such seat shall have adequate provision for retaining the passenger in place and for protecting the passenger from the moving parts of the bicycle.”

“So What?”  You Say?

Let’s imagine the worst. Both child-carrying Dads crash or fall because of  some obstruction on the roadway say,  a stone, a stick, a slippery metal road covering because of ongoing sewer rehabilitation. Even worse, they collide with a Distracted Pedestrian who’s watching a movie, texting or talking while walking.  Now Dad number 2 and his child may suffer some nicks and cuts, but should avoid suffering permanent damage to their brain cells.

Dad number 1 and his child would be a different story. The baby would have a higher chance of suffering permanent brain damage, not to mention the loss of use of one or more of its limbs. Or, the infant would die.

And the sad part? These two should-have-never-been-able-to-conceive excuses for parents would demand their health insurance company give the best care for their infant. As the child grew, they would demand the public school system provide the best possible education for their child. They would probably also demand their state and local legislators change existing estate planning laws re: Special Needs Children just so their child would benefit from greater access to lifelong services and funding.

Here’s What I Say-Deny, Deny, Deny.

Now, to his credit, Sal was trying to calm me down. Then  I gave him the reality of increased health care costs because these two “parents” didn’t love their child enough. Add to that the resources that might go to this child due to his parents foolishness, which could lead to higher taxes for us. And let’s not downplay the effect a liability suit could have on both the cost and availability of certain insurance coverages

And worse, the danger those parents placed their infant child in.

So here’s what I say: Deny.

Deny them the right to receive any medical benefits for their child.
Deny them the right to receive anything but the most basic education for their child, unless they pay for it from their own pockets.
Deny them the right to sue the city and/or utility or private firm for their failure to properly cover road hazards.
Deny them the right to sue the Distracted Pedestrian, or the driver of the car which strikes them by accident (Come on,  if they’re this dense, you know they’re running red lights on their bikes).

I do demand the law be changed. The civil fine for the first violation should be no less than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00). For a second violation of any part of the law, twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500.00), and the impounding of their bicycles until they prove the child is properly protected and of age to be a bicycle passenger. A third violation? Removal of the child from the parents. Why? They are clearing demonstrating they love to bike more than they love their child.

Sal, once he helped me get my blood pressure down to a reasonable level, put it all into perspective. “My friend,” he said, “I can almost guarantee you nothing will ever happen to that kid. The kid whose parents do all the right things, that’s the one who will suffer. That one, nothing  will ever happen to it. And that’s the way it is.”

Let’s pray he’s right.