4 Things to Consider When Changing Your Auto Policy
Whether you are adding a vehicle or a new driver, updating your address, or considering a new insurance provider entirely, the process of making changes to your auto policy can be intimidating. Read on for things to keep in mind when adjusting your auto policy.
1. Let Your Independent Agent Do the Work for You
As with any important decision, consider talking to a local expert who can help you navigate the decisions involved in switching to a new car insurance company. While paying the lowest possible rate may seem attractive at first glance, any responsible agent will explain that getting the coverage you need should be one of your top priorities.
For example, if you frequently drive with your dog in the backseat, you might ask your agent whether or not your dog is covered in the event you are in an accident. A professional independent agent can recommend an auto insurance policy that automatically covers any potential pet medical bills if you get into an accident. Not all insurance companies include this coverage. This is an example of how protecting what matters most to you is more important than the savings you get from buying insurance online. The foresight to look ahead and anticipate coverage needs is one of the many benefits of working with an independent agent.
2. Ask the Right Questions About Insurance Carriers
It’s important to balance between being price-conscious and making sure your insurance needs are met. To ensure you receive the correct coverage to meet the needs of you and your family, ask these questions when you speak with your local independent agent:
3. Mind the Policy Gap
Timing is everything as you don’t want to be without coverage between policies. Fees might be involved if you change insurance providers mid-policy term, or discounts may be offered if you shop for a renewal prior to your expiration date, so you’ll want to plan your insurance switchover accordingly.
Failure to avoid a gap in coverage can have serious legal and financial repercussions, especially if a disaster strikes when you’re between insurers. Additionally, a lapse could mean that insurance carriers will charge higher premiums in the future.
4. Follow Through
Once you’ve switched, make it a point to stay in contact with your local agent. Make sure that your previous policy has been canceled. Avoid billing mistakes and credit bureau issues by obtaining written confirmation from your previous insurer that your policy has been cancelled.
If you are moving to a new state, plan to visit with your insurance provider. Because insurance laws vary by state, you’ll want to complete changes prior to your move.
With the right insurance carrier watching out for you, making the switch should be a straightforward process. And, Theodore & Associates is always here to help!
Today, as car sharing has grown in popularity (well over a million people are members of various services in the U.S., according to the Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC)), the number of options has grown, too.
You can borrow a company-owned car (think Zipcar or Car2Go) for a few hours at a time or for a daily rate, returning it to the spot where you picked it up or a drop-off area in a designated zone. You can even rent cars from other individuals—and rent your car to them.
There are benefits and drawbacks to car sharing—just as there are when driving your own car everywhere. But is sharing right for you? Here are four things you should consider before you get started.
There’s a lot to like about car sharing, but there’s a lot to think about, too. Don’t hit the road before you weigh the pros and cons—and make sure you’re protected.
For more information, check out SafeCo's website.
Everyone knows why life insurance is important, but many of us choose to ignore the reality of what would happen if we were to die suddenly without the proper protection. The results could be devastating for your surviving family members, leaving them with a large bill for your final expenses, or even worse, loss of the family home because they can no longer cover the mortgage.
If you don’t currently have a life insurance policy, you are not alone. According to Life Insurance Statistics and Facts, which is a report put out by the life insurance industry, about 43% of the population don’t own a life insurance policy in any amount. Unfortunately, the study found that most of us are in desperate need of a life insurance policy. Nearly 1/3 of Americans would feel the loss of the primary earner in the household within the month.
We gathered a few stories to highlight the importance of life insurance. While these stories are fictional, they are based on very common situations.
Mary and Steve have a 24-year-old daughter named Amy who took out $150,000 in private student loans to fund her law school degree. Her parents co-signed the loans, wanting to give Amy a shot at her dream career.
Amy graduated from law school, joined a great law firm, had a baby and started paying off her student loans. When she died at the age of 34 from breast cancer, her parents suddenly became responsible for about $120,000 (the balance on her loans) and their 2-year-old granddaughter.
Because they co-signed the loans, Mary and Steve were responsible for repaying the loan balance. In some cases, the loan documents may include an acceleration clause that will bring the entire balance due at death. Mary and Steve could not afford to pay off the loan and had to sell their own home to settle their daughter’s debt.
While no parent ever wants to take out a life insurance policy on their own child, if you have co-signed their loans, and paying off the balance of those loans would be financially devastating; a life insurance policy can protect you from financial ruin.
A 30-year term life insurance policy on a 25-year-old woman (Amy’s age when she graduated from law school) would be very affordable and would have saved the day for Mary, Steve and their granddaughter.
1. Insurance Through Work Isn't Enough
Scott and Trish were happily married with two kids. Scott had a great job that he loved and was pulling down $150,000 a year. His employer provided two years' salary in life insurance, which Trish (who handled the finances) thought was sufficient until she talked to a friend of hers who was an insurance agent.
Her agent friend warned her that any coverage through work is always a nice bonus, but it’s never a good idea to rely on it. In the event that Scott were to quit, be fired or be laid off, his life insurance coverage would go away, leaving them completely exposed, and if 10 years had gone by, coverage would be much more expensive because Scott was now 10 years older.
Most insurance experts recommend keeping your life insurance separate from any coverage offered by work. Consider work-related life insurance icing on your insurance cake.
Trish took her friend's advice, and purchased a $750,000 term life insurance policy with a 25-year term. This coverage level would give her enough money to pay off their mortgage, put the kids through school and give her a bit of breathing room if the worst were to happen to Scott.
2. Don’t Leave Your Kids Holding the Bag
Kelly, a single mother, always thought it would be a good idea to buy life insurance to protect her children, but something always seemed to get in the way. Money was tight, or time was tight and she just never got around to it.
Years later, Kelly purchased a small home; her daughter was then 18 years old and her son was 14. While she didn't exactly live paycheck to paycheck, her budget was pretty tight and didn't allow her much room for savings.
One night while driving home from work, Kelly was struck head-on by a distracted driver. She died instantly. While Kelly’s children were forced to deal with the tragic loss of their mother, they also had to face the fact that she left behind only a few thousand dollars in the bank and no life insurance, leaving them essentially broke after covering the cost of a very basic funeral.
That is why life insurance is important. Nobody knows what is coming around the corner. If you die unexpectedly, you can leave your spouse or children in a very tight spot.
Term life insurance is extremely affordable. A 20-year policy with a death benefit of $500,000 for a healthy female can cost as little as $25 a month.
3. Life Insurance Can Save a Business If a Key Employee Dies
John started a tech company when he was 20 years old. Over the years he grew it into a multi-billion business that was consistently on the cutting edge of technology, introducing many industry-disrupting inventions. Even though John now employed thousands, he was very hands-on and had personally come up with most of their major breakthroughs.
John’s board of directors was concerned that if something happened to John, the company would suffer a tremendous financial loss. The board felt that a key man insurance policy was needed. A key employee life insurance policy is put in place to protect a business from losses if an invaluable employee dies.
The company decided to take out a very large life insurance policy on John, over his strenuous protests. John felt that he was in fine shape and would live to a ripe old age. Unfortunately, John was wrong. He suffered a major heart attack and died a few years after the policy went into effect.
Sales and the stock price immediately plummeted after his death, and the death benefit from the life insurance policy kept the company afloat for the next 12 months while the new CEO rebuilt investor trust and got the company back on track.
4. Stay-at-Home Parents Need Insurance Too
Mike and Stacy have been married for ten years, and for most of that time, Mike has been lucky enough to stay home with the kids while Stacy has been the primary breadwinner. While Stacy earns a good living, she would struggle to cover the cost of a nanny or other childcare provider if something were to happen to Mike.
Mike provides a variety of services to the family. He takes care of childcare, transportation, managing the household and their finances. He also deals with repairs and maintenance for their home. Mike also earns a small income doing handyman services around the neighborhood.
They decide that in the event something happened to Mike, a life insurance policy would ensure that Stacy would have enough money to hire the necessary help or take a few years off to stay at home as the family learns to cope with the loss.
Sarah purchases a 20-year term policy with a death benefit of $750,000 that will give her the financial means to replace the services Mike provided for the family as well as cover the cost of sending the kids to college.
5. Life Insurance Can Ensure Your Business Survives
Todd and Chris started a business together and over the years it grew into a successful enterprise. Their financial advisor recommended using whole life insurance policies to make sure that if one partner died, their family would be taken care of, and the business would survive the loss.
Todd purchased a $1 million whole life policy on Chris (and made the payments) and vice versa. Years later Todd was killed by a drunk driver. Chris received the death benefit from his life insurance policy on Todd, which he used to buy Todd’s share of the business from Todd's family.
This arrangement allowed Todd's family to be fairly compensated for his half of the business, while also allowing the business to survive without taking the major financial hit of paying off Todd's family.
This is called a buy/sell agreement and is a fairly common arrangement for small business partners.
Top Reasons Why Life Insurance Is So Important
Hopefully these stories have shown you just how important life insurance and "insuring your love" is for the special people in your life. If you still have doubts, here are some reasons why life insurance is a necessity, not an option:
Where Can I Get Life Insurance?
If any of these stories struck a chord and you are considering a life insurance policy, you are in the right place. Theodore & Associates can help you assess your specific risks and financial goals before recommending a policy. Whether you need a term policy, a permanent policy or a combination of both, our agents will do all of the legwork for you, gather quotes, and present you with a variety of options that will provide the protection that you and your family need.
Start protecting your family today, contact Theodore & Associates now.
For more information, please visit Trusted Choice here.
1. Customer Service – If you have coverage questions or worse, need to report a claim, would you rather reach an automated recording or an actual person when you call your insurance provider? More and more companies have switched to automated systems, often making it difficult and time consuming to reach the right person. However, at many independent insurance agencies, an actual person will still greet and assist you. In the unfortunate event of a claim, your agent can help you report the claim as well as explain what exactly your policy covers. If you’ve experienced a significant loss, such as water damage to your business, your insurance agent can help you there as well, connecting you to a reputable remediation company right away.
2. Personal Shoppers – Working with an independent insurance agent can be compared to having a personal shopper. Similar to the way in which a real estate agent sorts through properties to help you find your ideal home, an insurance agent reviews many different insurance companies’ rates and coverage options to help you secure policies that best suit your needs. You may believe that this comes at an additional cost to you, but independent agents do not add extra charges to insurance companies’ rates. So you can choose to work with an independent agent, who will handle your coverage needs, assist you with claims reporting and answer any questions you may have, from billing issues to coverage concerns, always advocating on your behalf, at no additional cost to you.
3. Community Involvement – In addition to assisting you, many independent insurance agents also actively help your local community. As local business owners, many insurance agency principals place a strong emphasis on giving back to the community. From sponsoring fundraisers and donating to local charities, to volunteering and serving as board members for non-profit organizations, there are many ways you may witness your local insurance agents giving back to the community, which can make you feel confident about your decision to do business with them.
4. Local Knowledge – It can be rewarding to witness your insurance agent supporting the community, but another local benefit you may not think of is your agent’s knowledge of your community. As local residents, many insurance agents have lived in your area for years and use their knowledge of the community to help you better reduce your risks and protect your assets. For instance, would an insurance company in the South be as familiar with New England’s high water tables in the spring that increase flood risks? If not, this provider may not be as likely to recommend basement water coverage, which is typically not included in a standard policy. Similarly, many independent agents will provide you with seasonal tips to help you reduce your risks, such as how to prevent ice dams and when you should consider raking your roof.
5. Understanding – Independent insurance agents understand that insurance can seem complicated and confusing, especially when you don’t deal with it on a daily basis. For this reason, your insurance agent will work to ensure that you fully understand your coverage, from what is and is not included, to the deductibles and limits you should carry. After you purchase your policies, an independent agent’s work isn’t over – instead, he/she is available year-round to help answer your questions, update your policy and make coverage recommendations.
6. One-Stop Shops – At many independent insurance agencies, you can take care of all your coverage needs at once, limiting the number of different companies you deal with and helping you stay organized. For example, if you own a small business, you can likely secure commercial insurance coverage from the same agency that insures your car and home. If you’re looking for health, life, or dental insurance, whether for your family or business, many insurance agents can help you there as well.
7. Reputation – Reputation plays a crucial role in finding a company you can trust, and many independent agencies take pride in the years, if not decades, they have spent serving their local communities. Not only can a company’s many years of service speak to its well-established reputation in the community, but it can also help you feel confident about its financial stability. Although there are many different ways to obtain insurance, would you rather obtain a quote from a startup Internet-based insurance provider that advertised on television, or call a local agent who your friends, co-workers and neighbors could recommend?
8. Knowledge – When you require legal advice, you contact a lawyer, and when a health issue arises, you visit your doctor, so when you need assistance with your insurance coverage, why not rely on an industry expert? In addition to having many years of experience in the industry, independent insurance agents have also worked with many different insurance companies and are knowledgeable about their individual strengths. Although one insurance company may provide unmatched claims service, another may offer more competitive rates. Based on what’s most important to you, whether it be a company’s service, rates, financial stability or a combination of all three factors, an independent agent will find the best match for you.
9. Saving Money & Time – Insurance companies that promise to drastically reduce your rates in minutes may seem cost-effective at first, but working with an independent agent can save you money and time over the long term. Instead of providing you with an instant rate, independent agents will ask questions and take the time to familiarize themselves with your business to ensure that the coverage they design will adequately protect you and your assets in the event of a claim.
10. Protection & Peace of Mind – Above all, working with an independent insurance agent will provide you with peace of mind, knowing that when you save money on your insurance, it won’t come at the expense of comprehensive coverage. When it comes to protecting your home, family, business and other invaluable assets, relying on an independent agent you can trust is a great place to start.