WHERE TO FIND THE BEST INSURANCE ADVICE IN NEW ORLEANS?
Years ago it was easy to find the best insurance advice in New Orleans. They had a nice office. A friendly staff full of smiling faces. A sign on the front of the building with a logo you recognized from a commercial.
You knew to go to the local office because that is where your parent’s had their insurance so you just purchased your car insurance from them when you bought your first car and when you bought your first house, you knew who to call because they were going to take care of you.
Well unfortunately those days are over and now insurance companies are pushing you to buy direct online.
Over $1,000,000,000 billion dollars was spent annually by one insurance company to push you to the internet and purchase the “most popular” cheap option for insurance.
Because it is more profitable for an insurance company to write as many customers as they can.
The formula is simple.
The more customers equal the more money they take in.
The more money they can take in before they have to pay out on a claim (known as the float) the more money they can invest in the stock market to turn a profit.
Yes insurance companies make money in the stock market, not in the insurance business.
So do insurance companies today even care if you are fully protected?
The current insurance direct business model says no.
If the insurance company offers the lowest liability limit available such as minimum limits on homeowners at 100,000 and minimum limits on auto insurance in Louisiana at 15,000, that puts a cap on the amount they will pay out in a claim.
And if you purchase directly from the insurance company you could never ask “Why didn’t you suggest better protection?”
Company response….”Uh you picked the limits and purchased online.”
The grand plan is at work for insurance companies.
Acquire as many customers as possible and offer the cheapest option with the lowest liability limits to acquire as many customers as possible and in doing so create the lowest claim payout exposure per customer.
More customers = more money = more investment income for the insurance company
But something is missing from the equation.
The purpose of insurance is to protect you from a financially devastating event that you can’t recover from.
You will never see a car insurance commercial about the
These topics will never be discussed in a tv commercial or print ad from an insurance company.
So how do you buy insurance in today’s market?
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3 OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO YOU TO BUY INSURANCE TODAY
Also known as Progressive, Geico, 21st Century, Esurance and others.
Call them direct or purchase your insurance online.
You need to have a complete understanding of the coverage options and you are responsible for the coverage selection.
They don’t offer protection advice only the ability to present to you the “cheapest option”.
You will always speak to a call center representative and never the same person twice.
Also known as Farmers, State Farm, Allstate, Liberty Mutual and others
They are hired to represent one insurance company.
If your renewal insurance premium increases, the only tool left in the toolbox is to reduce your coverage and raise your deductible and hope you stay with them.
With some of the captive agents an end of year bonus may depend on customer retention so sometimes agents may do whatever it takes to keep your business.
Most of these agents do actually care about your insurance protection and if they can’t help will refer you to another agent that can help you if their company is not a good fit for you.
Independent Insurance Agents
Will partner with more than one insurance company.
They offer more flexibility for each customer because each customer is different.
Most independent agents are small business owners and are under no obligation or pressure from any insurance company representative to make any sales quota.
Majority of Independent insurance Agents are not under any pressure from a sales manager to produce new business.
A typical independent insurance agency will represent more than 20 insurance companies for personal and business insurance.
Products can range from car and home insurance to business owner policies.
They also have access to companies that accept bad credit risks and high claim frequency.
TYPES OF INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENCIES
These agents belong to a larger out of state organization.
Some of these local offices are just satellite offices that sell insurance policies only.
If you have a question or need to make a change on your policy, you will be pushed to a home corporate office in another state.
Long wait for call backs are common unless you want to buy a new policy.
Independent Contractors or 1099 employee reps working for a large insurance agency
These sales reps are sales only and are often working under reduced commission structures from the large insurance agency employer.
Its all about a numbers game and they know they have to sell twice as much to earn a living.
Service is often shared back at the main office and the insurance representative that sold you the policy will probably be unavailable for any service type questions.
These are the field sales representatives for the main insurance agency.
Some local agencies basically used these representatives as marketing representatives to deliver cookies and cakes to referral partners.
Small Business Owner Insurance Agency
The owner of the business is still actively involved in the business.
The owner is 100% involved in the day to day operations of the local agency and will have a properly staffed support office to help you after the policy is sold.
A friendly office staff of members of your local community.
If you still want a face to see, a hand to shake or a personal relationship where the staff knows who you are, this is the place.
They make insurance decisions based on what is best for you, not the insurance company.
A good source of unbiased insurance advice.
Sometimes staying with your current insurance company is the best decision for you and a good independent insurance advisor will tell you this.
I wish I could tell you all insurance agents are insurance advisors and they have your best interest in mind.
Unfortunately I have seen suspect insurance policies from all types of insurance agents, local insurance agencies and direct writers.
TIPS TO DETERMINE IF YOU ARE TALKING TO AN INSURANCE ADVISOR
They ask questions about your needs not just trying to match what you have now and get it cheaper.
They determine why you are shopping your insurance
They don’t remove important coverage endorsements and tell you “oh you don’t need that”
They provide coverage options that are better than what you have now and may cost more just to show you a recommended level of protection
Say what? You want me to pay more for insurance?
In some cases, yes, you should get the protection you need.
I often discover people calling me with a $500,000 home and minimum liability limits on their homeowners policy (100,000) and minimum limits on their auto policy (15,000).
My first question is “Did you pick those liability limits or did your agent?”
Answer is always “I don’t know. I guess my agent did”.
The fundamental principle of insurance is to protect you from a financially devastating event.
Insurance protection is available so you can prevent a claim hurting you financially.
Insurance is not something you have to have because your mortgage company makes you get homeowners insurance or the state is making you purchase auto insurance or your lienholder is forcing you to buy car insurance.
There is a reason you purchase insurance.
It is because you can’t pay out of pocket in the event of a claim with the money in your checking account.
A $55,000 plumbing leak in the attic of your house.
A tornado rips off your roof.
A $300,000 fire damage claim.
You rear end another car and the other driver has to have back surgery for a herniated disc.
When you purchase insurance and select your deductible, your deductible amount becomes the most you will pay in the event of a claim up to the limits of the policy.
You pay up to your deductible and the insurance company pays the rest of the claim up to the limits of the policy.
If a liability claim settlement exceeds the limit of the liability on your policy, you are responsible for the difference out of your pocket.
The one policy you need to protect you from excess liability judgement, or worst case, future wage garnishment is purchase an Umbrella policy.
To learn more about the need for an Umbrella policy, click here to read an article I put together
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Obtain 3 Quote proposals from 3 different companies
An Independent Insurance Agency will represent more than one insurance company. Usually depending on where your house is located will determine the availability of insurance and the number of insurance companies offering new policies.
If you live in a coastal area, your options may be limited, but if not, you should be able to get at least three quote proposal options sent to you to compare.
Credit vs. Non Credit Scoring
Not all insurance companies have the same rates in the same zip code and not all insurance companies use your credit score to determine the insurance rate.
If you have average to bad credit make sure you are not getting a homeowners insurance quote proposal that uses your credit score.
You are a better fit for a non-credit scoring company.
A good insurance agency will have credit and non-credit homeowners insurance options for you.
Clean claims history vs. Active claims report with more than 2 claims
Insurance companies will surcharge or increase your home insurance rate for non weather related claims.
If you have more than two non weather related claims such as
- water damage
- plumbing issues
you will more than likely be canceled by your current insurance company or you will pay more for a new insurance policy.
Most insurance companies run a clue report or claims history report to determine your prior claims usually in the last five years.
If you are being canceled by your current homeowners insurance company due to claims, an independent insurance agency should have some options for you to consider.
We had a recent large fire claim over $300,000 and our customer’s current insurance company was not going to offer a renewal on their current policy. We were able to find another insurance company (NOT Louisiana Citizens Fair Plan) that would issue a new policy with no premium surcharge.
COMMON MYTH ABOUT HOMEOWNERS AND CAR INSURANCE
“If my insurance rate goes up at renewal my only option is to lower my coverage or raise my deductible.”
This is False. Just not true.
There could be several factors at work here. It could be the result of a claim or a rate increase by the insurance company.
If your home insurance policy was rated using credit, some companies will run your credit again at renewal.
If your credit score has dropped, the policy would be re-rated and it could result in a higher premium.
When you choose to do business with an insurance agency that represents more than one insurance company, you have options at renewal.
An independent insurance agent is not bound by a contract with one insurance company so if your best option is with company A, you are not stuck with company A at renewal if it goes up.
An agency’s staff can make the transition to a new insurance company very easy for you.
The benefit of flexibility is something you have when you choose to do business with an agency that represents more than one company.
Added Value for you at no extra cost.
The Annual Renewal Review Process
This is a very important benefit we offer our clients at FM Agency Group.
At any renewal just ask us to make sure you are still getting the most competitive premium in the market.
It also gives us the opportunity to discuss any life changes since policy inception such as a
- new dog purchased
- swimming pool
- expensive jewelry
- atv or golf cart
- estimated replacement cost value
- any improvements to the home
- home inventory video or pictures
An annual policy review is also an opportunity time to consider better insurance protection if you initially did not take advantage of the best coverage protection available to you.
It gives you an opportunity to level up on liability as well.
If you have 25,000/50,000 of car insurance liability, get a quote on going up to the next level of 50,000/100,000.
Most consumers believe it would double their current premium.
It would not. May only be another $10 month to move up a level.
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At FM Agency Group we are not order takers.
“Do you want fries with that?”
We are working to offer you the protection you need for the value you want.
We can often uncover weakness in your current insurance policy and make some coverage recommendations.
Getting good insurance advice is what we do for our customers.
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Common Myth for a Car Insurance claim
“When I’m involved in an accident I have to take my car to the insurance company’s recommended body shop to get my vehicle repaired.”
This is False too.
It is your car and you can take it wherever you like.
The body shop will offer a warranty for their repairs. If you are not sure where to take your vehicle, ask friends and family or look up online reviews of the body shop to make sure your vehicle is going to be repaired properly.
Here is a video of improper repairs by a Geico recommended body shop.
The risk of choosing your own body shop could be greater than just using a trusted body shop recommended by your insurance company. Often the insurance company will get involved if the repairs are not up to your satisfaction.
If you decide not to use the recommended body shop, you would be left to negotiate on your own.
Do your research and use online reviews. Look at facebook, google, yelp or any other online source you can find.
At FM Agency Group we also offer an in house online review option for our satisfied customers
Before you begin your insurance search to find a solution to your insurance problem, determine what it is you are looking for and hopefully you know where to find it.
The new insurance model is based on access to more than one insurance company.
In the near future it is very possible that captive insurance agents that only represent one insurance company will be allowed to offer more than one option.
CONSOLIDATE YOUR POLICIES TO ONE INSURANCE AGENCY
Would you go to a restaurant order an appetizer and then leave to go to another restaurant and order an entree? Leave that restaurant and go to a third restaurant for dessert?
You have the opportunity to consolidate your insurance protection with one agency and in some cases one company.
Car, home, rental, flood policies.
One phone call and you can get all your questions answered for you.
After Hurricane Katrina many of us had to make a few phone calls to a few different insurance companies and speak to a few different claims adjusters to get your claims settled.
No less than 20 calls to each insurance company and the adjuster.
I often speak with people now that have 4 different policies with 4 different insurance agencies all over New Orleans.
Simplify your insurance protection and a get your policies reviewed by a local insurance advisor that will let you know where your coverage is weak.
Where you have gaps in coverage and are exposed to claim denials.
If your real estate agent or mortgage broker found you insurance when you purchased your house and no one has reviewed your policy in a very long time, it is time to get the protection you need to avoid any future claim denials.
Don’t know who your agent is on your policy?
Poor claims service?
Local agency. Local adivsors. Local staff. Local service.
My name is Tim D’Angelo and I would like to talk to you about your car, home, flood, rental dwelling and umbrella protection.
I can review what you have now and see if we can help.
Call me at 504.348.3131 or use our quick contact form to get started.