When purchasing your insurance you might want to look around to get the policy that fits your preferences most closely, the agent with whom you can work most effectively, and the best insurance carrier offering the best prices for its plans. It is possible to narrow your list of potential contacts by asking friends, attorneys, bankers, or accountants to recommend agents. If you have the time, you may want to check the Classifieds of your local telephone directory to get a list of independent agencies in your area.
The easiest way to begin is to obtain rate quotes on similar insurance coverages. You may be surprised by the huge variances in prices for what appears to be comparable protection. You are looking for the ideal combination of rates with broad insurance coverage. The intangible consideration is service. Is the agent happy to spend more time with you discussing your real needs? Does the agent provide you with a single option? Does the agent represent enough different companies so as to give you a good perspective on the lowest prices and policy available?
Once you have refined the options to a manageable list, you simply must get into the specifics of your own personal circumstances. If your particular situation distinguishes you from most people; for example, if you don’t smoke, do not collect antique cars, or have had trouble getting insurance policy before; there could be some companies that will have a unique offer for you. Also, some companies specialize in types of coverage.
For example, they may work exclusively with homeowners insurance for renters, condominium owners, or owners of single-family homes. While sometimes these companies offer well-priced policies that meet specific needs, don’t automatically assume that a specialist firm will necessarily offer the best deal for you.
There are a wide array of insurance coverages offered to fit just about every situation. But it does take some exploring to find the ones that are right for you. If you want to get the most cost-effective and high-quality insurance, you will have to shop around and compare prices and special features for the policy or combination of insurance plans that best fits you. Be forewarned: the cheapest insurance is not always the best bargain.
If you are unsure about a company, you can check out its financial standing in Best’s Insurance Guide at your local library. Look for companies rated either “A” or “A+.” Premiums and insurance coverages vary substantially even among similarly rated companies. The variable for you is your overall personal financial security.
Insurance coverage is a legal contract that spells out just what the issuing company will or will not do for you in certain loss situations. There are two kinds of policy provisions: jacket and insurance plan. There are usually five jacket provisions:
The general issuing agreement states that the company agrees to pay the sum that the contract specifies as settlement against claims that are covered.
The supplementary payments section outlines the expenses, if any, the company will pay in addition to the settlement expense.
The definitions section defines the common terms relating to the conditions of the policy.
The conditions segment details those conditions under which the contract will be considered valid.
The declarations section identifies who is to be covered against what.
The insurance plan provisions are your instructions to the insurance company. By choosing one or more insurance plan provisions, you tell the insurance company who is to be covered, what injury or property damage is to be covered, and what is not to be covered.
A third element in an insurance policy is endorsements. Endorsements restrict or expand coverage. Since plans are required to conform to differing state statutes, endorsements are sometimes included by one state but not another. Some endorsements are directed by the companies themselves and must be specifically excluded by a policyholder. For instance, in some states companies add an endorsement covering credit card losses to their homeowner’s insurance plans. You must specifically refuse the coverage if you don’t want it or are covered by another policy.
And of course, you may specify endorsements to cover things not in the general form, or to exclude something like the credit card endorsement to save money. Endorsements enable you to fine-tune the policy’s policy as far as possible within the constraints allowed by your state’s laws.