There are many ways to purchase an insurance policy these days, whether it be online, over the phone, or in person. Ultimately, you will obtain insurance directly from an insurance company or through a licensed insurance agent.
Let's look at the benefits of using an independent agent vs. a captive agent.
In this day and age, it's all about CHOICES and OPTIONS. This is where the value of an independent agent comes to light. Put simply, independent agents have the ability to offer more choices than a captive agent.
Independent agents represent dozens of insurance companies. This means they can look at your personal situation and shop your needs with multiple insurers to make the best recommendation for you.
In contrast, a captive agent by nature only sells insurance for a single (1) company. An example of a captive agent would be State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, etc. They only have one insurer/company to offer, so therefore they only have one quote to offer you as well.
If you are insured with a captive agent, you would be led to believe that your premium is the best rate available, because within their company - it is. They have no other options or choices for you. Now, I have seen a captive agent reduce coverage amounts as a means to lower the premium - making the client think that they had "shopped" their insurance. I am not saying this is a typical practice but just something to potentially be aware of. FYI... You should never reduce your insurance coverage solely as a means to lower your premium unless you are out of other options.
Independent agents also have a "leg up" on the renewal process as well. When a policy renews with an Independent agency, they have the ability to re-shop your rate with any of the insurers they represent and move your policy if necessary. An independent agent can ensure you're getting the best rates available year after year.
On another note, occasionally consumers can be unsure of going with an independent agent simply because they don't recognize some of the insurance companies that the agent represents. Don't let anyone convince you that if you don't go with one of the well-known "brands" of insurance that you're taking a risk... This is simply not true! Every insurer/company is governed by an associated State Department of Insurance to ensure their best business practice. Additionally, you can research the insurer's financial strength (rating) to gain more knowledge and understanding. A multi-million dollar national advertising campaign should not be a guide for your insurance decisions (after all, who do you think is paying for that advertisement... hmmm).
What are you waiting for... Get to know your local independent agent today!
It's one of the most important things associated with owning a boat, but insurance policies can be confusing. Here's what you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.
1. What should a boat insurance policy include?
Coverage for the boat, engine, boating equipment, dinghies, and trailer. Medical payments coverage for onboard injuries and liability coverage for any property damage or bodily injury you are legally responsible for.
2. What does "Actual Cash Value" or "Agreed Value" mean?
Policies are written as either "Actual Cash Value" or "Agreed Value."
Actual cash value:
For total losses, your payout is based on the current market value of your boat. For partial losses, you receive the value of the loss less depreciation and the deductible.
Benefit: You pay less up front.
Downside: You pay more to get back on the water after a loss.
For a total loss, you are paid an agreed policy value, which means you know how much you'll get in the event you lose your boat. Partial losses are subject to the deductible and some items will also be adjusted for depreciation. All losses on boating equipment are replaced "new for old" after the deductible. For example, if your 5-year-old GPS is stolen, it will be replaced with a brand new one (of like kind and quality).
Benefit: You pay less out of pocket in the event of a partial loss and you know exactly how much you would receive in the event of a total loss.
3. Is the trailer covered?
If your boat has a trailer, don't assume it will automatically be covered under your boat policy. Physical damage to the trailer is covered under the policy; however, third-party property damage or bodily injury that happens while trailering is not. This is usually covered under your auto policy — check with your auto carrier.
4. What happens if the owner isn't driving and there's an accident?
If the boat is being operated by a family member or other person using the boat with your permission, and without compensation, they are covered under the conditions of the policy. If you "rent" or "lease" your boat to others, then coverage does not apply. Also, liability coverage is not provided for a paid captain or crew.
5. Additional options are available:
Personal effects coverage:
For non-boating equipment such as personal computers or clothing, and for boat-related items not considered boating equipment such as fishing or watersports equipment.
For boats less than 10 years old, you can eliminate any depreciation that otherwise would have been applied to a claim.
Ice and freeze damage:
Where freezing is a common occurrence, this endorsement protects boats against damages that may occur if the boat is not properly winterized.
Guide coverage for boats under 27 feet:
For those operating a fishing guide service, make sure you are protecting your business and clients with the proper coverage.
The following is a brief guide on protecting yourself and your family in the event of a tornado.
Remember that a watch means that weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes and a warning means one has been spotted in your area.
- Learn the warning signals used in your community. If a siren sounds, that means stay inside and take cover.
- Consider setting up a neighborhood information program through a club, church group or community group. Hold briefings on safety procedures as tornado season approaches. Set up a system to make sure senior citizens and shut-ins are alerted if there is a tornado warning.
Do NOT try to outrun a tornado. Instead, stay calm and seek shelter.
- At home or work, seek shelter in the central part of the building, away from windows. Basements are the best havens. If this is not an option, take cover in the bathroom, closet, interior hallway or under a heavy piece of furniture.
- If you are in your car, abandon your vehicle and seek shelter in the nearest ditch if no other facility is available.
- People living in mobile homes should vacate the premises and seek shelter elsewhere.
Protecting Your Property
- If a tornado watch has been issued, move cars inside a garage or carport to avoid damage from hail that often accompanies tornadoes. Keep your car keys and house keys with you.
- If time permits, move lawn furniture and yard equipment such as lawnmowers inside. Otherwise they could become damaged or act as dangerous projectiles causing serious injury or damage.
- Make an inventory of your possessions and store it off the premises. If your belongings are damaged, this list will help facilitate the claim filing process.
Did you see our Facebook Live Video from last Tuesday? If not, you should really take the time and watch it. We had one of our Trusted Roofing Contractors, Jeff Geyer w/ C&G Roofing come in and discuss all things related to storms and roofing. The Q&A was very informative and of course came at just the right time - Spring storm season! Jeff also left us with some tips we thought would be beneficial to add to our blog...
1. Is the roofing contractor local & how long have they been in business? A company with an established business is likely to be around when you need them. If you have a warranty, you want to make certain someone is around to honor it, should there ever be a problem.
2. Make certain the roofing company is insured. This protects consumers from contractors that aren't experienced in the industry. Ask about insurance, particularly liability and workers' compensation. A roofer without insurance coverage can leave you open to all sorts of risk; from damage to your property to liability for personal injury. ALWAYS ask for a CERTIFICATE OF INSURANCE.
3. Check with the Better Business Bureau. This is where you'll find those unhappy customers, if there are any. Remember that any company that deals with a larger volume of customers may get a few complaints but what is important is how they handled those complaints.
4. Look for a roofer that has good communication skills. You want someone that you can talk to about your project, that will readily answer all of your questions and that will keep you informed every step of the way. Poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and a job you may not be happy with.
5. Check to see if the contractor is part of the local industry associations. A strong established contractor should be a member of trade associations. In our area it is The North Texas Roofing Contractors.
6. Avoid Storm Chasers. Steer clear of the knock-on-the-door, "We are in your neighborhood" roofers. This is just canvassing and selling. If you are approached by this technique, call your insurance agent and ask for a recommendation. Pick a roofer from a referral or a sign in your area that has a satisfied client on the other end.
7. Look for a contractor who is a certified installer of the products they offer. Certified contractors can offer stronger warranties on the products they install and they also follow stricter installation guidelines.
Tornadoes are the most violent storms anywhere, and about 1,200 touch ground in the United States every year, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
They’re as unpredictable as they are violent, most often occurring in the early spring on the Gulf Coast, in May and June on the southern plains, and in June and July in the upper Midwest. But, tornadoes can occur any time of year and have been recorded in every state, says the NWS.
If a twister forms when you’re traveling through an unfamiliar region, or even while driving near home, you don’t have much time to make smart decisions that can help save your life. The NWS and Red Cross recommend these actions if a tornado catches you while you’re on the go:
Be Alert and Prepared
1. Know the difference between a watch and a warning:
- Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible around the general watch area. This tells you to be alert and prepared.
- Tornado Warning: A tornado has been seen or has appeared on weather radar. This tells you to take immediate action to protect yourself and/or your family.
2. Know how to access emergency broadcasts in case you encounter worrisome conditions:
- Local News Stations
- NOAA Weather Radio. Dial the VHF public service band from 162.400 to 162.550 MHz for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) All Hazards broadcast.
- Local NWS Weather Forecast Office. Access local watches, warnings, forecasts and radar images online.
3. Know the warning signs of a Tornado:
- Dark clouds, frequently greenish.
- A wall cloud, attached to the base of a thundercloud but isolated and lowering.
- Flying debris.
- Large hailstones.
- A roaring noise, ranging from the sound of a waterfall to that of a jet engine.
- A funnel cloud, a rotating funnel extending from the base of a thundercloud. Once it touches the ground, a funnel cloud is a tornado.
If You’re Caught Outside or Driving
1. Don't wait to see a funnel once you hear a Tornado Warning
- Run to a sturdy building. The basement is the safest place, but a windowless interior room on the building's lowest level is the next alternative. Mobile homes are NOT safe.
- Get into your car if you cannot immediately get to a shelter on foot. Fasten your seat belt and drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- Do NOT try and outrun a tornado, because they can move across the landscape at 60mph.
2. If large objects start to fly past as you are driving, pull over, park, and choose the better of the following two options:
- If you can get significantly below the level of the roadway, such as in a deep ditch, get out of the car and lie face down with your hands protecting your head.
- Otherwise, keep your seat belt on and stay in the car. Lower your head below the level of the windows, protecting yourself with your hands. If any other protection is available, such as a blanket - wrap that over your head as well.
Always remember, whenever you encounter severe weather that a violent storm can escalate and travel quickly. If you’re at home, be ready to put your emergency plan into place, if you can – practicing family drills and setting aside supplies ahead of time will help. If not, take the most appropriate safety measures possible, such as the ones shared above.