When it comes to buying insurance what comes to mind?
If you’re like most of our personal insurance customers, then coverage and price will be your top concern. Insurance is a complicated product so it’s important to know what you’re doing. Here’s your guide to make sure you know you’re getting the best product.
Behind the scenes things to know beforehand….
Before beginning the shopping process, a homeowner should be aware of a few factors. Do you want to insure your house for its replacement cost or its current market value? Do you prefer a high deductible or a low deductible? Do you have any other structures that need to be insured, such as fences, sheds, or detached garages? Do you want to insure your roof at what it takes to replace it in today’s market (replacement cost) or for the used value (actual cash value)? Don’t know the difference between Replacement Cost and Actual Cash Value? Refer to my blog that explains all that here.
In order to get a quote, all insurance companies will require some personal information. A good place to start is with your name, birthdate, and social security number for yourself and a spouse or partner that live in the same house.
Many of our customers are surprised to find out that insurance companies are utilizing credit scores. It does not show as a pull on your credit, but they are able to determine preferred rates for those with good credit ratings.
When going through a list of information that is helpful on the home itself it includes items like your address, square footage of the home, any updates to the electrical, plumbing, havoc, or roof, an estimate of what contents you have in the house. They also typically ask whether you have a pet and what breed. If you have a pitbull, germen shepherd, mastiff, cane corso or other security type dogs some companies will have exclusions for those types of breeds. Lastly, how far the closest fire hydrant and fire station are to your home are big factors for insurance companies. Your rating will be determined by how far both are from your house. The farther it is, the more expensive it gets.
How do you start the process of finding an agent and shopping?
What type of shopper are you? Do you like to shop around or work with a specific person with whom you are familiar? Are you sold on having just one option with that brand or would you like multiple options from your agent? Both are fine but determining this is a nice place to start. When looking for Homeowners Insurance, you have two options: captive agents or independent agents.
What’s the difference between the two? Captive agents are captive to one firm since they have access solely to that company. State Farm, Farmers, AllState, Farm Bureau, Shelter are a few examples of common captive agents. They can be excellent solutions for securing your home insurance. Independent agents are a little different in that, rather than having just one company, they usually have several to quote and compare in order to get you the best option. For example, ECI has 12 companies to compare in order to explore your best options for insurance on your home.
So, you’ve determined what works best for you and you’re ready to get a quote….
Depending on the agency, you can usually do it via email, text, phone call, or online. They’ll require some of the data listed above. Repeat this process if you want multiple agents to look at it. Some organizations can provide you with an estimate in as little as an hour, while others may take a few days if they’re looking into various options. Ask questions about the coverages that are relevant to you, such as “will my roof change to Actual Cash Value coverage after 5, 7, or 10 years?” or “Does this cover pipes in my foundation?”
Everyone buys differently, so choose the method that works best for you.
What discounts should a buyer look for?
Different companies have different discounts. Some of the most typical ones might surprise you.
If you work for large corporate companies, specifically government entities, hospitals, or large corporations they can offer discounts for being an employee. This is why many agents will ask about your profession.
You may have heard the term “bundling” on tv commercials. That just means pairing your auto with your home insurance can be advantageous. The “bundling” discount is usually the best way to get the most competitive price.
Having a class 7 shingle or hail resistant shingle can also help on pricing…this can vary company to company and sometimes can make the price go up.
We briefly touched on credit, but if you have a partner that has a better credit rating then try running the quotes with that person as the first named insured. This can sometimes help as well.