I know,… awful is a strong word. Maybe even slightly offensive to some.
But it’s true — there are some awful insurance policies out there. I see it every single day, and I’m here to help the people who don’t know they have one, realize why, and how to fix it, and the folks who are well aware, but maybe in denial about it, change their ways a little bit.
Sometimes I too live in denial about the 380 calorie donut I may or may not have just consumed while writing this article. Okay fine, it was multiple donuts. Happy now (insert eye-roll here)?
What’s worse is most of the time when it comes to hiding the truth from ourselves its because we know we need to dedicate the time or the money to making a change. Time and money??? No wonder so many people live in denial land (as I raise my hand self admittedly).
Whether that be changing your donut addiction, the white-wash jeans you swear are still in style, or your antiquated insurance policy.
Whatever your truth in denial is, the fact remains that a lot of us simply avoid change.
So what’s my point? What do donuts and insurance have in common?
Denying that you have a problem with either of them can be a major detriment to your health lol.
Here’s what I mean, but first…
It’s time for an intervention:
What if I told you that by embracing the change ahead in this article, it could not only save you thousands of dollars, but it can also change the way you might see insurance as a whole, because let’s be honest- insurance isn’t one of the most fun loving topics.
Let’s just say it together, more than likely, if you have been working with the same agent for more than a few years, your policy may be outdated if not reviewed. Even more so, if you have been working with an agent who only writes business for one company (a “captive” agent, more on this in a moment), you may not have all the coverages in place you think you have.
And it’s okay. We are going to fix it (I will hold your hand here if needed). The first step to recovery is to start by admitting it, let’s say it together.
My name is ____________ (you go here) and I have been ignoring my insurance policies forever.
The Super Obvious Way To Know If Your Insurance is Secretly Bad And The One Quick Thing You Can Do to Fix It
As you saw in the video featured above there are several ways that a consumer can become “numb” to their existing insurance policy. Whether you haven’t looked at it in 25 years like our pal Joe (isn’t Joe just the cutest person to ever have worn a blazer?) or you look at it scrupulously every year like Rita.
Whatever your circumstance is, as a consumer if you are not using an independent insurance agent for your insurance policies, it is your responsibility to get educated about what you currently have and how much you are paying for it.
Sounds fun right?
Yeah I didn’t think so. So let’s change gears on how I can help you make a transition to an independent insurance agent as opposed to help you stay comfortable with being uncomfortable (only in the gym is this allowed) with your insurance agency and/or policy.
In order for us to become insurance policy ninjas we need to first attack an insurance policy in the least lame way possible… pat on the back to me because making an insurance possible not lame is hard to do.
I could give you the official definition for insurance policy but I decided I actually want you to read the rest of the article (LOL) so I am going to give you Erin Nutting’s unofficial definition to an official insurance policy document:
An official insurance policy is like a maze of words, glossed over terms, and broken dreams compiled into a 172 onslaught of trees. It is broken down in your coverage portion, exclusions, and a ton of other verbiage that is meant to protect the insurance company in case you decide to sue. It is confusing and frustrating.
As you can tell by definition above, you are not alone in feeling totally lost when it comes to insurance policies. In fact, the point to that definition is to show you that you should not be navigating this alone.
When it comes to an insurance policy trying to figure out what you need or do not have is nearly impossible to do on your own and still feel confident that you would have coverage in the event of a claim.
So how do you know if your insurance is secretly bad?
Soooooo, here’s the deal with insurance — a lot of people (like a lot a lot) think that insurance is all about price and that they can weed through 50 companies using some wiz bang online quoting website, and “choose their own” coverages all by themselves.
If this describes you, just know that I’m patting you on the back right now for your efforts, but I have some news for you and I say this nicely — you can’t do this by yourself.
You need an independent insurance agent
If you don’t have an independent agent, your coverage could be secretly bad, and here’s what I mean…
You can’t just pick any insurance company, just the same as you can’t pick up a Roledex (if you have one of these expect when you call me to also have a counseling session about upgrading your contact system) and select any insurance agent.
Selecting any insurance agent or company is what got you in AWFUL INSURANCE LAND to begin with.
There are two kinds of insurance agents….
Captive Insurance Agents– These agents are contracted agents for the company in which they work for. They typically only represent one company.
Independent Insurance Agents – These agents represent multiple companies and are not committed to writing business with just one carrier. They are “independent” of any one carrier if you will.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the differences, but I’m going to break these down in even more detail as you keep reading:
Coverage Options- And Why Secrets Are NOT Your Friend
I’m about to name drop. It’s about to happen. Brace Yourselves.
If you are a Farmers Insurance customer in Arizona, it’s very possible that you DO NOT have a crucial type of coverage on your homeowners policy that would be a detriment if you needed it.
There has been a Tucson, Arizona monsoon and, as most of us do, we discover a leak in our roof during the rain (wouldn’t it be neat if this happened when it was dry?) It has caused damage to the interior walls of the home, your amazing Lazy Boy that you just spent $3,000 on, and some technology that was conveniently located under the leak.
The restoration company comes out and says you haven’t maintained your roof in 13 years and well…. it’s your fault for having the normal wear and tear.
Having a panic attack yet?
No sweat, I got ya. On every insurance policy written in my agency, this coverage is a no-brainer. Most insurance policies in general would cover the damage incurred (your walls, your sweet Lazy Boy, and your new Star Wars Hero Droid). We just wouldn’t cover the “ill” maintained roof.
That’s on you as a home owner (and we’d ask you to fix it for future).
Seems reasonable right?
If you have a homeowners insurance policy with Farmers Insurance in Arizona you DO NOT have coverage for any incurred damages due to that non-maintenanced, leaky roof.
So Erin, you’re telling me that even though insurance is supposed to cover the sudden and unforseen, my Farmers Home Insurance policy won’t cover the sudden and unforeseen if it was in relation to something I didn’t know prior to the rain?
Let it be known, I am not ripping apart the Farmers Insurance homeowners policy.
The fault here is not that the policy is bad — the policy could be fine for certain homeowners, and there is a fit for everyone. The question is, is your Captive Insurance Agent informing you of this gap in coverage?
That’s where the magic is. You saw that policy Joe was holding… there is no way a consumer can be expected to read that entire document and figure this out on their own.
Consumers don’t read policies, but are assuming because they paid money for their policy, that they are magically covered for every single thing imaginable.
Carrier Access -This is extremely important for you and your family/business
Claims aren’t convenient. They don’t happen between the hours of 8:30 am- 5:30 pm. In fact, its more than likely they are going to happen at 2 am after you finally got your infant to sleep (no… I’m not speaking from experience).
When selecting your independent insurance agent it is imperative that they have an option for you if you need some service in the after hours or even just as a back up to the agency.
As an agent myself I want to say “oh yeah- call me anytime I am always here” but I would be a big fat liar. Voicemails happen. Emails after 24 hours happen. Life just happens. The good news is my agency is equipped with with top notch insurance carriers to back us up.
Kind of like a buddy-system if you will.
We actually pay carriers a little bit more, to make sure our clients are taken care of, even when we aren’t available to them. When it comes to insurance, having access to someone at all times of the day is well…. completely underrated.
What’s more, because we have access to multiple companies, when you’re rates increase, you don’t have to constantly fire and rotate between different agencies, some of whom you might really like doing business with, just because your pricing increased.
With an Independent agent, we can re-shop your policies with our companies to see what we can do for you so you don’t have to change the agent, you can just change the company if need be.
Claims Handling- We Got Your Back
As I said above, claims basically suck.
The benefit to working with an independent agent is that we seriously go to bat for our customers when it comes to claims. In fact I have been told I am the Derek Jeter of insurance claims. See what I did there? Go to bat….get it?? *Okay you’re right, I totally just made that up*
As terrible as a claim is, I always tell my clients that it really is our time to shine as an insurance agent. This is where we scream….
Put me in Coach!
The idea of insurance in general is that we hope you never have to use it. But when/if you do, we are loyal to you not the carrier. Sadly, insurance policies are typically written to where companies have exclusions and conditions, meaning that they are trying to control the amount paid, if/when there is a claim.
Can we blame them? Look at the world we live in. It is our job as an independent agent to step out of the batter box and hit homers every time.
This is why we go to spring training.
Policy Servicing -Getting help on your terms
This one I tend to get a little unreasonably excited about. Kind of like going to Target with no kids… ya know to get things I need.
I was talking with one of my Captive Insurance Agent Besties last week and he tells me “nah I wasn’t able to put that on my Facebook because Company A didn’t approve it”. I could help but think for a minute before asking him the following question.
So are your customers not able to Facebook message you to make a change to their policy if needed?
His response… priceless.
Oh My Gosh no… Company A watches us on our PC’s and that is not an acceptable way to make a policy change so we just have to ignore it.
Hmmmmm. Ok so I am going to give Company A a break and say I understand that adapting technology and adapting the way we meet our customers needs is exhausting.
As an independent insurance agent we are blessed with creating our own rules to fit our consumers. Overinsured Olivia… get down with your bad self and send me a “insta-chat” on our website to schedule your review guuuurl. The new way of doing business in our world is how we are told we need to do it by our consumers.
The Renewal -Because no one needs a deductible that is the cost of a small pony
If you are anything like Rita from the video, you know that sometimes insurance premiums can take a rate increase. *Correction* Insurance premiums will almost always take a rate increase. This is just the nature of the beast.
There are a few acceptable things that should happen when your insurance renewal takes a hike upwards.
- Coverage Review– Do you have unnecessary coverages? Example: Do you have AAA Roadside Service but yet still carry it on your auto insurance policy as well? Do you have 3 vehicles and only 2 drivers in the household, and carry rental car reimbursement? These are just two very easy examples of coverage removal when you are experiencing a price increase.
- Deductible Real Talk– The first thing you typically hear from an insurance agent when your policy renewal goes up is “we could look at increasing your deductible“. I am going to reflect here on the positive reason you would want to look at your deductible increasing. The math goes like this —– you increase your insurance deductibles—- your insurance premium goes down. You take on more risk, we reward you with a price break. Got it? If you currently have a 250.00 deductible and don’t file small claims (more on this later) then it would be wise of you to not waste your insurance premium dollars on a low deductible. Look at going to a 500.00 deductible or my personal recommended 1000.00.
- Multi-Policy Discounts– One of the most missed discounts on insurance policies is when you don’t combine your insurance policies together. Let’s have #serioustalk for a moment here so we are both transparent. Insurance agents of course want all your business, fact. Let’s not pretend we don’t need to eat mmmmk? Is that my primary goal in combining your insurance policies? Heck no. You are potentially missing out on up to 30% of a discount with some carriers by not combining your insurance among so many other benefits. So at renewal when your insurance premium goes up (notice I say when and not if), multi policy discount is a great way to cut cost and *BONUS* will probably save you on your other line of insurance also.
- The Policy Re-Write- Close your eyes… come on this journey with me. You call in to your “decently friendly neighborhood insurance agent” after your premium went up 35/month. You are trying to see what options they have? You experience all the not so fun things like Rita did in the above video. What if I told you that as an independent insurance agent I would instead say the following “it went up again?! They’ve done this the last 3 years… that’s it, we are moving ya”. This was a very real conversation I had with a customer of mine last week. With access to over 30 companies we were able to find a better fit for her pocket book (do people still call them pocket books) and didn’t have to comprise her coverage options. BOOM- where do you sign up right?
These are only a few of the several things that an independent agent can do for you if the budget is getting higher due to insurance premium increases. An insurance agent’s loyalty should always be to their insureds, not to the carrier they represent. Not having reasonable options at renewal time is a big red flag.
Conclusion and how to fix your potentially broken insurance policy:
I promised you a fix. I promised you a way out.
I promised you that I would help you take your insurance policy back.
So here’s the fix: you need to consult an independent agent and have them do a thorough review of your insurance policies. Have them review every little thing, like your endorsements/riders, and possible exclusions/limitations.
Once the coverages have been sorted out, and you have what’s adequate for you and your family or business, then, and only then, can you compare the different carriers to see who offers the best pricing.
Pro tip: don’t wait until your renewal to do this!
Better yet, if you’d like me to personally do this for you, fill out this form below and upload your current insurance documents. We will not only review what you currently have just to make sure you are covered, but we will provide you with some alternate options.
And hey listen… if you know for a fact that you are adequately insured and getting a better deal where you are now, we will tell you that too. I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but independent insurance agencies are limited on how much they can help after a claim has occurred. You might be stuck with your captive policies if that happens. We can’t jump in and save the day if you aren’t with us.
Let us help you take back the way you do insurance business and get us your insurance information below.
Together, we can take back your insurance policy making sure you have the best possible coverage and price, and well… I can work on my donut addiction.