By Tracey Wells
Do you devalue your household insurance? Is insurance something you only think of when a potential claim arises or when you receive your rate increase on your offer of renewal? Do you hold the entire insurance industry in contempt? Have you been lured in by funny commercials? Do you think your entire insurance program can be written in a matter of minutes when it took you years to build and accumulate your assets?
Internet and call center insurance companies have done an excellent job of devaluing the process of obtaining insurance as well as the need for agent’s advice on coverage. They use the lure of “cheap prices”, crafty commercials and barrage of ads. Even some syndicated consumer experts are advocates of the internet/call center insurance carriers. The business model of removing the agent from the equation to get the premiums lowered sounds noble but huge sacrifices and risk are kept on the customer’s side and a much smaller than normal risk is maintained by the internet/call center insurance company. These insurance carriers are banking on the client not asking coverage questions or not being concerned. Also, many of these call centers have sales reps who do not understand coverage and are only concerned about the method of payment to close the sale. Bottom line, most people are not experts in insurance and just listening to a news story or a consumer expert doesn’t make you an expert in insurance/risk management.
It is a big deal and you should treat your insurance as important as your taxes, or your education or your children’s education and your health. Your insurance agent should be as important as your attorney and your family doctor. If you have significant assets, you need to have a knowledgeable insurance agent, an attorney and an accountant on your team. Out of the three, only your agent brings you a check to make you whole (attorney’s do it through insurance companies). Also, with the “ambulance chaser” attorneys you see on commercials, it is imperative to have a skilled insurance agent to show you different insurance risk management plans to protect you from the “ambulance chaser.”
A good agent can be the difference for you having adequate temporary lodging in the event of a claim that makes your house unlivable or a total loss; having access to another vehicle if your vehicle is damaged or having the ability to clean up in the event of an interior sewer or water backup or discharge. Disregarding minor coverage details could make life miserable for you for a considerable amount of time or even cause you to have a life altering change due to circumstances left up to chance from a poor insurance program.
Also, the mentality of “that stuff happens to other people not me because I’m a careful responsible person” can get you in trouble later. These internet/call center insurance companies will never advise you on all scenarios that could occur if a loss occurs. Even if an agent offers you a plan that you cannot afford currently, do your best to slowly step up to those recommended limits or plans as your income allows you. Ignoring it can cost you more in the long run.
In closing, I highly recommend an appointment preferably face-to-face or block out at least 45 minutes to an hour to discuss with a knowledgeable agent on the phone. The Internet/call center insurance companies are not going to set you up with a good household insurance plan and they are not equipped to do so. Get a plan that will properly address most of the common scenarios as well as obscure problems. That extra money “saved” by going with these call center/internet companies will cost you more money in the future when you are not covered correctly.
Tracey Wells is an Agency Owner for Farmers Insurance in the state of Georgia.