How do I choose the right insurance company when there are so many to choose from?

Two individuals pointing and looking at a laptop screen With such a large selection to choose from, it can be hard to know which insurance company is right for you. Many people revert to shopping based solely on price or they rely on recommendations from friends and family to evaluate which insurance company to go with. But your decision should be based on more than just cost or a recommendation from a loved one. Let’s take a look at how you can choose the right insurance company for your needs without having to spend hours of research.

Rankings

The results of consumer surveys are easy to find online and often offer more reliable information than individual online reviews. These surveys are generally in-depth inquiries into specific sectors of a market. Those responding to the survey will be asked several questions about their satisfaction with the insurance company and how much they pay for their various policies. You can even get insights on the best insurance company for specific issues such as claims satisfaction, availability of discounts, or customer service. Consumer survey results are available for many types of insurance including auto, home, health, and life.

Financial Stability

If an insurance company is weak financially, then there could be issues with paying incoming claims. That’s especially a concern if there’s a natural disaster and the company is hit with a large number of claims in a short amount of time. Financial stability ratings are available online and it’s worth doing some homework, especially if you’re considering going with a smaller or lesser known insurance provider.

Payment Plans

Different insurance companies take a different approach to payments. It’s best to look for a company that offers multiple payment plans. Some of the more flexible insurance companies offer discounts for automatic withdrawals or paying the premium in full. Likewise, beware of companies that charge excessive fees with each monthly payment as those costs can add up over time.

Buying Online vs Purchasing From an Independent Agent 

There are many big-name insurance companies that saturate the media with advertisements and commercials touting how much you can save in very little time. But these companies are not always the best option. While you may see and hear a lot less about independent agents, they offer some unbeatable benefits. These insurance professionals will take the time to understand your personal insurance needs and offer advice on which insurance companies are best for you. Independent agents have access to multiple insurance companies and they can effectively shop around for a policy that matches precisely what you’re looking for.

The best way to get more information on the best insurance company for you is to ask a licensed agent in our office. We can assist you with assessing your insurance needs and provide you with some quotes from several of the top insurance companies.

Call Us Today For A Free Consultation

Our licensed staff is ready to help you get multiple insurance quotes. Because we’re an independent insurance agent we can shop from multiple insurance companies to help you find the right coverage at the right price.

Adults sitting in a boat on a lakeWhen it comes to insuring your boat, it can be hard to know where to start. Most new boat owners start by wondering how much coverage will be provided by an existing home insurance policy. But it’s often best to separate your boat insurance from your homeowner’s policy or any other policies that you might have. The majority of home insurance policies either offer very limited marine specific coverage or don’t cover boats at all.

If your home insurance does provide marine insurance, it’s important to ask what type of coverage is included. Most home insurance policies that have some type of marine insurance included only offer coverage when operating the boat on inland waterways, small lakes, and rivers. Coverage rarely reaches to a coastal inlet or along the beach.  Additionally, the liability limits can be restrictive. Oftentimes a home insurance policy won’t provide coverage for costs that you might be liable for such as salvage work, wreckage removal, and environmental damages.

What are the variables involved in most boat insurance policies?

There are many variables which insurance companies will consider when determining your boat insurance premiums. Some of the most common of these variables include:

  • Length of the boat
  • Age of the boat
  • Overall value of the boat
  • Condition (Does it meet US Coast Guard Standards?)
  • Horsepower of the motor(s)
  • Where it will be kept and operated

What types of boat coverage are there?

There are two basic types of boat insurance —“agreed value” and “actual cash value.” Applying deprecation at the time of a loss is what sets these policy types apart.

An “agreed value” policy insures the boat based on its value when the policy was initially written. While it can cost more upfront, there is no depreciation for a total loss of the boat.

“Actual cash value” policies cost less upfront but factor in depreciation. The policy will only pay the boat’s actual value at the time of loss. Over time, as your boat ages, your insurer will likely insist on an actual cash value policy—and your premiums will likely decrease over time as a result.

What coverages are often available on a stand-alone boat policy?

The availability of specialized coverages is the advantage of purchasing a stand-alone boat policy rather than relying on your home insurance. Some of these coverages include:

  • Accessories Coverage: Coverage for a specific high-value piece of equipment on your boat, such as an expensive prop or navigation equipment.
  • Wreckage Removal: Covers the cost of removing and transporting your boat in the case of severe damage or sinking.
  • Towing: In the event that your boat breaks down, this coverage will reimburse you for the costs associated with getting back to shore.
  • Cruising Extension: You can get temporary, additional coverage for areas outside the USA such as Mexico or the Bahamas.

The best way to get more information on boat insurance is to ask a licensed agent in our office. We can assist you with assessing your insurance needs and provide you with some quotes from several of the top insurance companies.

Get A Quote For Your Boat Insurance Today

Our licensed staff is ready to help you get multiple boat insurance quotes. Because we’re an independent insurance agent we can shop from multiple insurance companies to help you find the right coverage at the right price.

A male driving a vehicle and texting at the same timeApril is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 lives were lost from distracted driving accidents. This increased 10% from 2018.

What is considered distracted driving? Any time you cannot have 100% full attention to driving your vehicle is considered distracted driving. Behaviors can range from talking on the phone, texting, talking to a passenger in your vehicle, eating, brushing your hair, adjusting settings in your vehicle or playing with your vehicle’s GPS while driving your vehicle. Unfortunately, distracted driving is more common than it should be.

Take this month to practice safe driving by eliminating any of the previously mentioned behaviors while driving. This will not only make you a safer driver, but keeps other vehicles on the road safer too.

Cell Phone Use

Cell phone use can be one of the most dangerous behaviors while driving a vehicle. Sending a text message while driving can take your eyes off the road for several seconds. Talking on the phone also creates enough distraction while driving. Here are some things to consider practicing this month –

  • Keep your phone in the back seat when driving to avoid looking at it, texting or talking. You could also consider other areas of your car like your trunk or glove box. If the glove box is tempting, place farther away from you like the back seat or trunk.
  • There are options to put a do not disturb setting on your phone while driving. This can help eliminate the distraction.
  • Make phone calls or texts before or after driving your vehicle.
  • If you are riding with a passenger, let the passenger be in charge of your phone for calls or texts.

Be Aware of Other Distracted Driving Behaviors

Do you find yourself eating in the car often? Grooming? Frequently fiddling with your entertainment system? Reaching in the back seat dealing with children? If you are guilty of these behaviors, how can you work to eliminate them?

Be a Good Role Model

Especially if you are a parent to children, you should demonstrate how to be a safe driver. Children see what you do and can easily follow in your footsteps. Cell phone use can be one of the most dangerous behaviors so practice never using your cell phone while driving. If you do not have kids, keep others you love accountable. Not only demonstrate safe driving practices while you are behind the wheel, but call out any of their behaviors you feel are unsafe while in the passenger seat.

While our agents cannot teach out how to practice safe driving, we can shop to find you the best rate for your auto insurance. Call our office for a free auto insurance quote. We’ll shop our carriers and provide you with several quotes to choose from. We’ll explain your coverage options too.

A man standing by a vehicle pulled over on the side of the road reading a mapDuring the pandemic, many individuals may not feel comfortable getting on an airplane. However, many still want to travel. Perhaps a road trip can be the answer. Road trips allow you to see what is between your home and destination, something that hopping on a plane doesn’t, but it is essential to have the best plan in place before you hit the road.

First off, where do you want to go?

This is the most important question. Start with your end destination. For example, say someone who lives in Washington State wants to travel to Death Valley National Park.

Start with your basic questions:

  • How much time can I spend on the road?
  • How long will it take to get to my end destination?
  • What are my route options?
  • What am I interested in seeing?
  • Is everything open that I am interested in seeing?
  • Do I want to rent a car or use my own car?

Once you answer those questions, you can begin your planning.

Grab the basics for your vehicle

It doesn’t matter if you are renting a car or using your own, it is good to have the basics in the car for your road trip.

  • Flashlight
  • Food and water
  • Owner’s manual
  • Spare tire & roadside kit
  • Cell phone charger
  • Blanket
  • Small trash bag

Adding comfort to your road trip

Comfort can come in many ways. From wearing comfortable clothes & shoes to having snacks. We will share below some items that can bring comfort to a long drive.

  • Good music playlist. Whether you create it on your phone or pack a bunch of CDs, music makes a comfortable drive. Not a music fan? What about an audio book?
  • Hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes. Obviously this is more important than ever with COVID-19, but having access to clean hands brings comfort.
  • Sometimes you will come across a vendor who only accepts cash. Sometimes there are tolls you have to pass that require cash. This is always good to have on hand.
  • Snacks – pack your favorites!
  • Sunglasses & sunscreen
  • First Aid Kit
  • Cooler – this allows you to bring a variety of food choices. Especially if you don’t want to eat out every meal, packing your own meals brings safety and routine to your diet.
  • Pillow
  • Camera & camera charger (unless you use your phone for photos!)

Another common question – if I am renting a car, do I need to purchase their insurance policy?

This choice is up to you. Your auto insurance coverage would cover anything on your rental car that is covered on your personal car. Comprehensive and collision insurance is a required coverage on rental cars. If your current auto insurance coverage does not have comprehensive and collision coverage, you will need to purchase that coverage. Also, consider roadside assistance if you plan to be in an area unfamiliar to you.

What else should I know about creating the best road trip?

This may sound silly, but keep your head up and enjoy the scenery. If you are sitting in the passenger seat, it is easy to scroll through your phone instead, but sometimes the gems along the route are better than the destination.

Also, it may be fun to keep a journal of all the details of your trip. Especially if you are a fan of scrapbooking your trips, you’ll remember all the little memories that may be easy to forget.

Lastly, do some research. If you are a foodie, research the best places to eat on your route. Whether it is a simple Google search or looking at Yelp, it is easy to find tasty food.

If you have any questions about your existing auto insurance or RV insurance coverage, please contact us before you hit the road. Safe travels and enjoy the open road.

A driver's hand on a car steering wheelThe auto insurance industry landscape is changing as more companies embrace emerging technology. No longer are auto insurance rates based solely on your age, marital status, where you live, or the number of violations that you have. Instead, some companies are also basing their rating structures on how you drive, when you drive, and even where you drive. These models are often called Usage Based Insurance (UBI) or Pay-Per-Mile Insurance (PPMI) programs. And the adoption rates of these new rating variables varies across insurance companies. Some base their rates almost entirely on these new metrics whereas others have been slower to shift from traditional rating structures. Details regarding the type of data collected and the methods of data collection for these new programs are below:

Type of Data Collected:

Most insurance companies collect a wide range of data for their UBI programs. Some of the most common of these variables include the following:

  • Hard Brakes/Hard Acceleration: Hard braking or fast accelerations are signs of aggressive driving which data suggests increases the likelihood of being involved in an accident. Maintaining assured clear distance with the cars ahead of you and accelerating smoothly are ways to ensure this variable doesn’t increase your premium.
  • When You’re Driving Data suggests that between midnight and 4am are the riskiest times to be on the road. So, if possible, avoid late night driving when participating in a UBI program.
  • How Much You’re Driving, The more you’re on the road, the higher the chances that you’ll be involved in an accident. Those with low annual miles tend to get the most favorable rates from UBI programs.

Data Collection Methods

You might be wondering how insurance companies even get access to your driving behavior data. There are two primary data collection methods:

  • Proprietary Apps – Some insurance companies have created their own proprietary app which customers download to their phones for purposes of recording driving behavior. The app uses the technology embedded in the phone to collect hard brakes, GPS, date/time, etc and then wirelessly sends that data to the insurance company.
  • Plug-In Devices –  Every car manufactured since 1996 has an On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port which allows for real-time monitoring of the vehicle. Some insurance companies have created a device that a customer can plug into this port. The device then collects the vehicle information and wirelessly sends that data to the company.

The best way to determine whether a UBI program is best for you is to ask a licensed agent in our office. We can assist you with assessing your insurance needs and provide you with some quotes from several of the top insurance companies.

Get A Quote For Your Auto Insurance Today

Our licensed staff is ready to help you get multiple insurance quotes. Because we’re an independent insurance agent we can shop from multiple insurance companies to help you find the right coverage at the right price.

Diamond necklaces and diamond earringsJewelry is often one of the most valuable belongings in your home and, for this reason, it’s something you may want to consider insuring. Most pieces of jewelry can be fragile, easily lost, and they are among the first items stolen during burglaries. But most people still fail to insure expensive pieces of jewelry with high sentimental values.

Below is some general information to help you understand how much jewelry insurance can cost and the different ways that you can purchase insurance for some of your most precious belongings.

Homeowner Insurance

One common way to insure jewelry is on a homeowner’s insurance policy. Usually adding your jewelry to your home insurance will cost you extra. Homeowners insurance rates will vary based on the amount of coverage you choose for your home, the location, age, and condition of your home, and other factors like your marital status and even your credit score.

Most home policies don’t automatically cover your jewelry. You’ll need to ask for an endorsement to your policy to cover your jewelry. And, as jewelry is a high-value item and is often stolen or lost, you’ll see a separate amount of coverage for it on your policy.

The cost of jewelry insurance can vary but typically it’s between 1% – 5% of the total value of your jewelry collection.

The different home insurance coverage options

When it comes to comparing home insurance, there are many different options to choose from. Some of the most common options that you will want to consider when taking out a policy include:

  • HO-3 Insurance – This is the most popular type of insurance and, if you have a mortgage, you are often required to have at a minimum this level of coverage.

This type of policy will cover any damage to your home, apart from any exclusions in the policy, which might be events such as floods or earthquakes.

As for the coverage for your belongings, this policy is commonly referred to as a Named Peril policy. On an HO-3 policy, your belongings will only be covered for events listed in your policy. Also, you typically will only be reimbursed for the actual cash value of your belongings rather than the true replacement cost.

  • HO-5 Insurance – If you are looking for more holistic coverage, then this type of policy provides more extensive coverage than an HO-3 policy.

HO-5 insurance provides the same amount of protection for your home as an HO-3 policy. But for your belongings, HO-5 is commonly referred to as an Open Peril policy. This means that rather than only covering your belongings for perils that are named in the policy, your belongings will be covered for everything unless a peril is specifically excluded in the policy.

An HO-5 policy will also reimburse you for replacing your belongings if lost or stolen rather than only providing the actual cash value of your property.

The best way to get more information on jewelry insurance is to ask a licensed agent in our office. We can assist you with assessing your insurance needs and provide you with some quotes from several of the top insurance companies.

Get A Quote For Your Jewelry Insurance Today

Our licensed staff is ready to help you get multiple jewelry insurance quotes. Because we’re an independent insurance agent we can shop from multiple insurance companies to help you find the right coverage at the right price.

A white vehicle in the snow Winter driving brings a whole new element of risk to the road. Driver’s concentration and a car’s integrity are continuously put to the test in frigid weather. Making the decision to change your tires at the right time will keep you safe and will help you to avoid accidents in winter weather. If you live in a seasonal state, then most agree that it’s best to have two sets of tires for your vehicle: a set of all-season tires and a set of winter tires.

What are winter tires?

Winter tires are engineered to perform best on icy roads in sub-zero temperatures. The tread compound is specifically designed to allow for better traction when stopping. This tread gives the tires a better grip on icy roads.

In fact, on average, winter tires can reduce stopping distance by up to 25% on slippery roads – that can mean the difference between stopping well before the car in front of you and a rear-end collision.

What about all-season tires?

Some people, however, argue that all-season tires are just as capable and safe as winter tires considering their name and from experience. But all-season tires have two considerable compositional downfalls when it comes to driving in icy, snowy, or slippery conditions. 

In order to be more durable, all-season tires are designed using a harder and longer-wearing rubber compound than is used in winter tires. This specialized rubber stiffens as temperatures drop, which results in a loss of tire flexibility. The less flexible a tire is, the worse its grip on the road. Moreover, when compared to winter tires, they simply have less surface contact with the ground which results in decreased traction.

How do different sets of tires affect auto insurance policy rates?

Very few insurance companies offer a discount for winter tire use. So switching from all-season tires to winter tires won’t have a direct impact on your auto insurance premiums. However, winter tires have a better chance of keeping you from an accident in cold weather conditions. Avoiding accidents will help to keep your auto insurance rates low.

While winter tires won’t prevent all auto accidents, they certainly lower your driving risk and tend to perform better in snowy conditions than all-season tires. As a result, you can expect a safer winter driving experience which will ultimately result in lower insurance premiums for you in the long run.

If you have questions about auto insurance rates, please call one of our authorized insurance agents. We can assist you with assessing your insurance needs and provide you with some quotes from several of the top insurance companies.

Get A Quote For Your Auto Insurance Today

Our licensed staff is ready to help you get multiple auto insurance quotes. Because we’re an independent insurance agent we can shop from multiple insurance companies to help you find the right coverage at the right price.