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How to shop for homeowners insurance

Have you been brainwashed by clever commercials that wasting your valuable time to find a new home insurance product is a good idea? Has someone wrongly told you that saving 15% on your homeowners insurance or auto insurance and it taking 15 minutes is in your best interest? Did you get a referral to another home insurance or auto insurance agent simply because they are “great?”

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Don’t spend your time quote shopping. We shop for you!

Things like great service, good rates, fast response and friendliness are like the plastic bag on your dry cleaning – its a standard and you should expect it, but there is A LOT more than you should consider when shopping for your home insurance or auto insurance.

Selecting a new homeowners insurance product requires the assistance of an independent agent that demonstrates ability and track record to keep your best interest at the center of their process. 

Your time is valuable. Your free time is even more valuable. Don’t spend it shopping for insurance. We suggest you follow our quick guide which will help you arrive at the best results for your budget now, your peace of mind and the experience you have if you (God forbid) have to use your insurance.

Here is a quick guide on how to select a new  home insurance product from a guy in the know:

  1. The first step in selecting a new homeowners insurance product is to select your insurance agent. We are biased but we feel that an independent insurance agent who is “Free to Work for You” and not the insurance carrier is your best bet.
    1. This agent should work at an agency that provides access to multiple trusted brands of insurance company for your home insurance or auto insurance.
    2. They should have a means of communication that fits your needs (email, website, mobile-site, etc).
    3. They should demonstrate willingness to educate you and empower you to a good decision about your home insurance or auto insurance.
    4. They should have references from past customers to provide you.
    5. You should know what happens in the event of a claim, who to call, where to call, what to do, etc. If they cannot provide this on the first visit or call – they are not the agent for you.
    6. Do they provide additional risk management services?
      1. In home visit to assist with identifying problem areas?
      2. Risk Management assistance with a “Legacy Binder”
      3. Assistance with Per-scheduled safety deliveries?
        1. Batteries for Smoke Detectors
        2. Emergency Kits for your family
        3. Hurricane Preparedness Kits
      4. Referrals to professionals to assist in avoiding claims
        1. Service professionals
        2. Estate Planning professionals
        3. Maintenance professionals
  2. The next step in selecting a new homeowners insurance product is to provide your new agent with all the details about your exposures. We feel strongly that any agent that doesn’t have a thorough process to gathering your data and learning about your risk  is doing you a disservice and is simply practice quoting. Don’t waste your time with an agent who is pushy about quoting you right then and there on the phone. Would your doctor provide you an diagnosis over the phone or on an consult without further investigation? Would your lawyer give you a concrete answer on a matter without first reviewing the facts. An insurance agent that wants to SELL you fast will also be quick to leave you alone to the 1800#’s and service centers we all LOVE dealing with (sarcasm). A good agent will request the following from you:
    1. For Homeowners Insurance, a good agent will need:
      1. Copies of your current declarations pages
      2. Most recent Wind Mitigation Inspection Report
      3. Most recent 4 Point Inspection (for older homes)
      4. Details on things like pools, detached structures, pets, children’s out door toys, golf carts, etc.
      5. Details on Personal Property that is considered unique or high value like, silverware, china, fine art, collectibles, jewelry, etc.
  3. The next step in selecting a new home insurance product is to empower your new independent insurance agent to obtain quotes about your unique risk exposure from the various outlets that provide coverage on those unique exposures.
  4. The last step in selecting a new home insurance product is to review the findings of your independent insurance agent and make a decision on which product to select. Value is a hard thing to peg when reviewing auto insurance or home insurance. We suggest you use the following criteria:
    1. Agent Service: Do you receive a professional and thoughtful document? With comparisons and explanations for key concepts? Does your agent recommend specific options and provide reasons?
    2. Carrier Service: A good independent insurance agent will be able to speak about the carriers service at 2 critical points:
      1. General Service for payments, changes, questions, etc.
      2. Claims Services –
        1. In House adjusting or independent adjusters?
        2. Track record of claims disputes?
        3. High % of mediation?
        4. AUTO – do they have a network of repair facilities? Ease of obtaining a rental car?
        5. HOME – do they have a clearly defined network of providers? is is robust in your area?
      3. Agent interface – does your agent have to hand you off to the corporate service teams like many Captive Agents do?
    3. Price – this is a deeper issue than just the premium. What does a carriers financial outlook look like? Do they have stability in their forecast? What does their previous track record tell us about their future rates? Do they drop rates only to raise them shortly after? What does the carriers reserves and reinsurance look like (more of a concern on the home side)?

Selecting a new home insurance product requires the assistance of an independent agent that demonstrates ability and track record to keep your best interest at the center of their process.

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