We often hear from the insurance companies that we sell for that other agencies around the Southeast are struggling. Maybe they’ve seen a lull in one type of insurance or another. It always surprises them when we say we’ve been growing steadily. Not fast. Just steady.
We like to pat ourselves on the back about that, but deep down, we know it has much more to do with you, our clients. You put your trust in us that we will be there for you. You are loyal. Heck, we have many clients whose parents AND children have their assets insured with us.
So we just want to take a moment to say “Thank you”. Thank you for having faith in us. We don’t take that lightly. We won’t make promises we can’t keep. We will answer the phone when you call. And most importantly, we will treat you like a human being and not like a policy.
Logistics and legal requirements are the last things anyone wants to deal with as soon as they are involved in a crash. But we’ve seen too many examples of hundreds of thousands of dollars being lost from not taking these steps.
- Stop and assist anyone injured. Make sure everyone is okay and out of harm’s way before any logistics are taken care of. Assessing the situation will also let you know what to tell the police when you call. However, unless you are a medical professional, do not provide medical assistance. That includes moving someone who may have injuries.
- Call the police. This seems like a no-brainer. But you may be tempted in minor incidents to trade information with the other driver and handle things without seeing a need for police involvement. But the position you might find yourself in is that there is no objective party involved. Facts can be misconstrued when it’s your word against someone else’s.
- Take pictures of the accident before moving vehicles. This will make sure facts can be backed up with visual evidence. It’s best to get shots of all vehicles involved from multiple angles as well as close-ups of the damage incurred.
- DO NOT admit fault (even if you are 100% sure you are guilty). The kindness that was instilled in us growing up will want us to respond to an accident with something like this: “I’m so sorry! This was completely my fault. I wasn’t paying enough attention.” The accident may be your fault, but don’t let your perception of the situation (or your abundant politeness) cloud your judgement.
- Get contact and insurance information from all drivers involved. Also, get tag number and make and model of the other vehicle(s). The easiest way to get most of this is to snap a picture of all licenses, tags and insurance IDs with your cell phone.
- Finally, call your agent. This doesn’t have to be done immediately afterwards. But don’t let it linger more than 24 hours. Of course, if you don’t have an agent, call your insurance company directly.
This is a time when we will point out the benefit of having an independent agent. Independent agents will advocate for you. We do not work for the insurance company. We can hold insurance companies accountable and follow up on your behalf. If they get something wrong, it won’t be up to you to call them to the table on it.
Does it seem like the amount you pay for your homeowners policy continues to climb? But everything is, right? The price of food, cars, clothes. When you were a kid, everything was cheaper. But inflation and the price of oil has little to do with premium increases. It’s actually much simpler than that.
Claims drive the cost of any insurance policy.
The recent rise in accidents due to distracted driving has had a huge effect on car insurance premiums. Homes are no different. But unlike accident statistics, there may be something you can do about your home insurance premium.
Our houses are intended to protect us and our things from the elements. And no part of the house works harder to do this than the roof. Our roofs take a beating from rain, sun, wind, hail and the occasional basketball. And because of that, the majority of claims are roof related. As a result, insurance companies are very interested in what kind of roof you have, what shape it is in and how old it is.
If you haven’t had any claims, the age of your roof is probably the number one reason for your homeowners premium to go up.
A typical asphalt shingle roof that is supposed to last 25 years is considered old by insurance companies after 10 years. Some companies won’t insure the house at all if the roof is older that 15 years. If your roof is five years old or less, you’re in the best shape. The insurance company will not only take you at a lower cost, but your coverage will also be better.
That gets into completely different territory. You think price is the most important factor unless you’ve ever had a claim. Once you’ve had a claim, you understand that being able to replace your roof is what really matters. But insurance companies do not want to pay for a brand new roof on a claim where a 20 year old roof was damaged. Therefore, companies that will insure homes with older roofs will only insure the roof for actual cash value. What that means is if you have a claim, and your roof needs to be replaced, they will pay for an old roof. Not a new one. That scenario would put you in a position of not only paying your deductible but also paying the difference for a new roof.
Replacing an old roof could lower your premium around 25%.
And having architectural shingles or better yet metal roofing installed will keep that premium down longer. And best of all, you’ll be insured for replacement cost and not just cash value.
Are you unhappy with your homeowners premium? Could it be related to your roof?
Have you replaced your roof in the last few years? Have you told your agent?
Perhaps it seemed like a good idea at the time. In 2008, gas prices were skyrocketing taking almost a daily increase moving right past the $3/gallon mark at the beginning of the year and headed to the $4/gallon by the middle of the year. One auto maker had a plan and a promotion to match the hysteria.
If you bought a new car, they would guarantee $2.99/gallon gas for up to three years. It sounds crazy now, but at the time, it looked like a huge blunder by the auto maker, not the consumer. The feeling at the time was that there was no end in sight to the gas crunch.
I remember being at a party with someone who had bought a car based on this program and listening to a friend chide him in late October about the offer. With a sly smile he quizzed, “So, are you still having to pay $2.99/gallon?” By this time, the market had stabilized and gas was well below $2.99/gallon and quickly headed below $2/gallon. Any “savings” had long since been negated due to a change in the market.
While insurance markets don’t tend to change as quickly as the gas and oil markets, it should be noted that what may have worked for you a few years ago may not be the best option for your current situation. Our job is to make sure your insurance program matches your current situation. For this very reason, we work with different companies, so we can find a company that fits your current needs and offer other solutions as your needs change.
I’m often asked what kind of work I do. When I reply I’m an insurance agent, the next question is “Who do you work for?”. Usually my answer is “I don’t work for any particular company, I’m independent.”
This always brings up the same question: “What does that mean?”. Since this question comes up so often, I thought I would share information today that explains how an independent agency works.
When I first entered the industry in 1980 I was an employee of an insurance company. The only insurance I could offer was their products. If it didn’t fit their appetite, I would have to tell the customer they would have to get their insurance from someone else. Or, if they had claims issues and their policy was cancelled, I didn’t have anything else to offer them.
After several years of this, I decided there had to be a better way. Surely there was a way to offer more than just what one company provided. I longed for the day I could say to my customer “If this company doesn’t want to do it, I have others that will.” That day came when I started an independent agency. As independent agents, we’re not employed by the insurance companies. We are contracted with numerous, well respected companies such as Travelers, Auto-Owners, Progressive, Safeco, Liberty Mutual, Foremost and others to represent them and offer their products, but they don’t dictate to us. You, our customer, along with our guidance decide which company best fits your situation.
Another area where independent agents are different is when you have a claim. We are your claims advocate. Since we are not employed by an insurance company, they can’t tell us to stay out of it in the event we feel they’re not handling your claim to the best of their ability. Most people don’t realize how huge this is. When you buy from an agent, you expect they will be there to assist you in the time you need them the most. Unfortunately, that’s usually no longer allowed unless you’re an independent agent. So, with that said, I’m proud we’re still able to do what I started twenty three years ago when I began our independent agency, and we look forward to providing this service to you for many more years to come.
“Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires involving cooking equipment.”
Thanksgiving is an enjoyable time for many of us. But the extra cooking combined with the added chaos of people can cause accidents if we aren’t prepared.
Take a look at the tips that the National Fire Protection Association gives:
Half of home heating fires occur in just three months out of the year (December, January and February). Space heaters are responsible for four out of five deaths from home heating fires. But 100% of home heating fires are preventable!
The National Fire Protection Association has a checklist of tips to help prevent house fires as the cold creeps in:
We receive many calls from our customers regarding chipped or cracked windshields on their vehicles. Usually this is due to a rock or some object from the road finding its way to your windshield while you are driving down the road. This is a good time to check and see if you have comprehensive coverage on that vehicle. What many people don’t know is that if you do have comprehensive coverage, many companies will repair your chipped windshield without you having to pay anything, not even a deductible. You want to make sure to call your agent as soon as you realize your windshield is damaged. If you don’t and the windshield becomes a larger crack, it may not be repairable anymore and may require a full windshield replacement. In this case, you will be responsible for paying your deductible, which in many cases is more than the cost of the entire windshield. Have you heard of ‘Full Glass‘ coverage? Your agent may have an option for this, as well.
Late last year we had a customer call that had two chips in their windshield that needed to be repaired at the same time. They did not have ‘Full Glass’ coverage at the time, so it was good that they called and got them repaired before the damage could get worse. Changes in weather may also cause a chip in your windshield to turn into a full replacement, as the chip can get worse and start to crack even more over time. Keep in mind that many chips in a windshield can be hard to see, so it is a good idea to look at your entire windshield from time to time to make sure there is no damage.
These chipped windshield occurrences happen more often than some people may think and we file claims fairly often for this. Some insurance companies offer some type of ‘Full Glass’ coverage so that whether your windshield is just chipped or even if it is severely damaged and needs to be replaced, your insurance will either pay for the full repair/replacement or may have a very small deductible so that you don’t have to pay for the entire repair. This is a good option for someone who travels a lot or someone that just wants that extra peace of mind. A windshield can be expensive to replace, so ask your agent for a quote on ‘Full Glass’ coverage.