Pay me now or pay me later
These days just about anything can be done online. Ordering products can be done with a few clicks and it's delivered to your doorstep in a couple of days and sometimes even a couple of hours. Seems easy enough for most purchases, but sometimes the ease and comfort comes at a cost. I can't tell you how many times we've ordered things on Amazon, Ebay or another shopping site, only to find it at our local BJ's or Home Depot a few days later and much cheaper. It was super easier to search for the product we were looking for, pay and have it sent. Nowadays no one wants to leave the house, head to the store, hunt for their item and I can't blame them. A lot of times you can get decent prices and sometimes even cheaper than the item in the store. There's no rhyme or reason to the way things are priced. We've learn to accept that sometimes things are cheaper and sometimes they're more.
So how do people shop for things that are less tangible; like insurance.? There are all types of insurance coverage from healthcare to home owners. Those get a little trickier to price and compare. For starters, any insurance program is going to have a number of caveat's that needs an attorney review to decipher and truly understand. When shopping online, you're at the mercy of doing your own research and hoping things work they way you've come to understand them.
Auto insurance is one of those things that were traditionally bought and sold with a local agent who reviews your needs, affordability and delivers a proposal. That's the old school way of going about it, but this younger generation and even the tech savvy pre-retirees are doing some homework and shopping online. Many have hesitation about doing that and I would agree that a bit of caution is necessary. Comparing price as your only way to determine which coverage is the "best" option, could cost you; a lot! While things are working as planned and no claims are needed, things are great. You're putting some cash in your back pocket and saving for other things. What happens when you do have an incident - does your policy actually cover that event and what is their claims process like? That can be a very big deal and I've had my fair share of dealings with insurance companies for clients, family and for myself and I can tell you it makes the world of difference when you're going through a tough time.
What other options are available for the consumer to get help when shopping for home, auto or any other insurance? Working with a captive agent is one way to go about it. That means working with a licensed agent who is bound by the product set available by their company. It's not always going to be the best coverage or the cheapest, but they bank on the overall client experience as a value add. There's nothing like getting help with a quit phone call or even dropping by a local office to someone face to face. Just think about anytime you've had an issue with Spectrum, Time Warner or any other big outfit that could care less about wait times or actually helping their customers with a problem. It can be brutal.
There's another option that many may not have considered in the past; an insurance broker. How is that any different than an agent? They're not confined to a singular product set or insurer. Some companies provide better coverage, special riders or more competitive rates depending on a persons specific situation. Everyone's needs and wants are different. Things like credit score and other risk factors play a role in the products available as well as the premium they're going to pay.
In my experience the best option is working with a broker you can trust. Not any old broker who's claim to fame is that they're not captive. That only means they have access to a variety of products, but it doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the best response or best policy available. People are motivated by money and they have the ability to steer or direct you to coverage as they deem fit. You hope they are seeing the bigger picture by keeping you as a loyal client who's going to share your experience with friends and family. The longer you remain a client, the more money they make.
How often should you shop for coverage? Typically every two to three years is a good amount of time to go shopping again. That could be a simple call to your broker to make sure you have a competitive premium and the best policies based on your current needs. It's an ongoing process that needs to be reevaluated every so often because you could find gaps in coverage or life changes that need to be addressed. At the end of the day, weighing your options and comfort level will play a role in how and where you shop for coverage. We're all required to carry auto insurance and it's viewed as a necessary evil. The truth is, if you have a major accident, you'll be thanking your lucky stars you have the right coverage and the right team handling your claim. Saving a couple hundred bucks on a bare bones policy you found online might come back to bite you badly when it costs you thousands or more.
And that's only the beginning...Reach out and schedule a consultation to discuss your situation. We'll walk you through your options and help you make the right choice for your goals.
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