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Justus
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Home/Auto insurance

Postby Justus » Thu Nov 29, 2012 2:27 pm

I see that people shop around for better rates for home and auto insurance. Is there any advantage of purchasing through an agent or directly from the company? What are the advantages / disadvantages of purchasing insurance products through a more experienced agent?

I had a fairly negative experience with an extremely agressive insurance agent trying to solicit my business and it freaked me out how she knew so much details (such as when my insurance expires, how much I was insured for, etc.) Do all insurance companies share this kind of data?

Also, I understand that insurance companies will pull credit reports; how much negative impact will this be?

Tightwad
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Re: Home/Auto insurance

Postby Tightwad » Thu Nov 29, 2012 3:51 pm

Justus wrote:I see that people shop around for better rates for home and auto insurance. Is there any advantage of purchasing through an agent or directly from the company? What are the advantages / disadvantages of purchasing insurance products through a more experienced agent?

The more experienced the better. My wife has been an agent for almost 30 years & nearly all of her clients come back to her after the other, cheaper insurer screws up their policies. With insurance, you get what you pay for!

Also....some companies don't sell to the public. They rely on independent agencies. Others have their on agents who sell only their products. State Farm is a good example.

I had a fairly negative experience with an extremely agressive insurance agent trying to solicit my business and it freaked me out how she knew so much details (such as when my insurance expires, how much I was insured for, etc.) Do all insurance companies share this kind of data?

Dunno. I'll ask.

Also, I understand that insurance companies will pull credit reports; how much negative impact will this be?

Minimal if it's a soft pull ( they solicit you). Slightly more if it's a hard pull (you solicit them). Probably no more than a few points though.

DoingHomework
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Re: Home/Auto insurance

Postby DoingHomework » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:28 pm

Seems like Tightwad can provide good information here. He's been around here for a long time and knows an experienced agent well.

I am personally not a big fan of insurance companies in general but I do think people should carry adequate insurance and do so myself. All of our insurance comes from State Farm. We have shopped it around a few years ago and no one could beat it with solid companies. If I were you I would thoroughly investigate any company you buy insurance from.

You really must keep in mind that any company can make it easy to collect premiums but you really have to look into how well they pay claims. There are plenty of companies that have cheap premiums because it is virtually impossible to collect from them when something happens. Do you really want that? If you want to hear a real horror story look up what Progressive recently did to a customer.

With regard to credit checks, no legitimate insurance company can pull your credit in a way that will impact you (hard pull) without your expressed permission. If they do, please contact the FBI because it may be a violation of federal law that could get the individual who did it imprisoned. We need more of that to keep these companies honest. But for the most part they don't do it and use "soft pulls" instead that don't effect your credit.

As far as sharing information...again, your privacy is protected but only if you don't give them the authority to share your information. Most people do that through inaction. If they know something you have not shared, get in their face and demand to know how they know it and what authority they have to record the information. I've done it, it's slightly embarrassing the first time but not nearly embarrassing as it is for the insurance agent that is worried that he has committed a crime and could lose his license and his livelihood.

Good luck

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Re: Home/Auto insurance

Postby Tightwad » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:41 am

Justus wrote:I had a fairly negative experience with an extremely agressive insurance agent trying to solicit my business and it freaked me out how she knew so much details (such as when my insurance expires, how much I was insured for, etc.) Do all insurance companies share this kind of data?

Tightwad wrote:Dunno. I'll ask.

I asked my wife about this & she said it happens all the time. Most, if not all, insurance companies are members of databases of insurer information that they can use to solicit people that they think are good risks & that might move their insurance policies to their agency. She gets calls all the time from her customers who are freaked out because another insurance company sent them a detailed letter or phone call trying to win their business.

Tightwad
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Re: Home/Auto insurance

Postby Tightwad » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:01 am

DoingHomework wrote:Seems like Tightwad can provide good information here. He's been around here for a long time and knows an experienced agent well.

Thanks DH. I appreciate the vote of confidence.

I am personally not a big fan of insurance companies in general but I do think people should carry adequate insurance and do so myself. All of our insurance comes from State Farm. We have shopped it around a few years ago and no one could beat it with solid companies. If I were you I would thoroughly investigate any company you buy insurance from.

I'm not a fan of insurance companies either. Most are just out there to screw you when you need them most. State Farm is a very solid company that will give good rates if you have a good driving record, no claims history, good credit, & buy their other non-insurance products (which could be a whole 'nother thread on it's own!). If you aren't a top shelf customer, I wouldn't even quote SF since they'll be so expensive you'll go somewhere else for insurance.

You really must keep in mind that any company can make it easy to collect premiums but you really have to look into how well they pay claims. There are plenty of companies that have cheap premiums because it is virtually impossible to collect from them when something happens. Do you really want that? If you want to hear a real horror story look up what Progressive recently did to a customer.

I made the Progressive mistake once....never again!!!

With regard to credit checks, no legitimate insurance company can pull your credit in a way that will impact you (hard pull) without your expressed permission. If they do, please contact the FBI because it may be a violation of federal law that could get the individual who did it imprisoned. We need more of that to keep these companies honest. But for the most part they don't do it and use "soft pulls" instead that don't effect your credit.

As far as sharing information...again, your privacy is protected but only if you don't give them the authority to share your information. Most people do that through inaction. If they know something you have not shared, get in their face and demand to know how they know it and what authority they have to record the information. I've done it, it's slightly embarrassing the first time but not nearly embarrassing as it is for the insurance agent that is worried that he has committed a crime and could lose his license and his livelihood.

I agree with what DH is saying here but I will add one caveat to this. Hard pulls are sometimes legit even if you did not apply for a loan, credit, insurance, etc recently but you do have an on going financial relationship with the company doing the credit check. For example, a bank might do an annual file review (including a hard credit pull) if you have an active HELOC at their bank. The loan may have been taken out 5 years ago but somewhere in the fine print that you signed gives them the authority to do so regardless of how old the loan is.

Justus
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Re: Home/Auto insurance

Postby Justus » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:21 am

Thanks for your input, Tightwad & DoingHomework. I've been following the forum for a while and have gained a lot of value from your posts.

State Farm is a very solid company that will give good rates if you have a good driving record, no claims history, good credit, & buy their other non-insurance products (which could be a whole 'nother thread on it's own!). If you aren't a top shelf customer, I wouldn't even quote SF since they'll be so expensive you'll go somewhere else for insurance.


I'm currently with State Farm purchased through an agent/agency in my neighborhood. I've felt that the premiums are quite high (but I haven't done a lot of comparison shopping either). What is a "top shelf customer"? Is it based primarily on driving record and credit score? I believe I'd be in that category with no claims, no points on my driving, no negatives on my credit, overall score around 800.

I agree with you that an experienced agent is the way to go, which is why I went with the agent I am currently with, however, I'm really an uninformed consumer: I don't know what questions to ask my agent when I do meet him. Are there specifics I should be asking?


Also, is this the "Progressive" story you guys have been referring to? Awful!

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/16/o ... ns-killer/

annibe11e
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Re: Home/Auto insurance

Postby annibe11e » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:38 am

Odd. I've had Progressive for several years. I love it. I recently had my first claim and it was handled beautifully. They are also the best rates for all of my needs. I shop around every six months or so. I hope I continue to have a good experience with them!!

Tightwad
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Re: Home/Auto insurance

Postby Tightwad » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:28 pm

Justus wrote:I'm currently with State Farm purchased through an agent/agency in my neighborhood. I've felt that the premiums are quite high (but I haven't done a lot of comparison shopping either). What is a "top shelf customer"? Is it based primarily on driving record and credit score? I believe I'd be in that category with no claims, no points on my driving, no negatives on my credit, overall score around 800.

All of that plus no lapses in coverage with any prior insurance carrier. I'd also look into multi policy discounts (home/car/life/umbrella/etc).

I agree with you that an experienced agent is the way to go, which is why I went with the agent I am currently with, however, I'm really an uninformed consumer: I don't know what questions to ask my agent when I do meet him. Are there specifics I should be asking?

Sadly, I don't know what to ask since my wife obviously takes care of our insurance needs. But I would say ask any question you feel relevant if you don't understand the policy & coverages. Insurance policies are written by a team of Philadelphia lawyers so pester the crap out of them until you are comfortable.

Also, is this the "Progressive" story you guys have been referring to? Awful!

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/16/o ... ns-killer/

I hadn't heard this one but it all goes to show what insurance is all about. If you let them, they will wiggle out of a claim if it will save them a dollar regardless of what the policy says. Progressive is nothing but a bunch of scumbags!

In my case, I had Progressive in 2001 & filed a claim when I had a car stolen (I haven't seen it since!). At first they tried to sandbag me for a couple of months. Then lowballed me by 50% of the car's value. Then cut me a check for the book value when I showed up at the claims office & got livid with the adjuster. Sometimes you just have to play hard ball with them so they will hold up to their end of the bargain.

DoingHomework
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Re: Home/Auto insurance

Postby DoingHomework » Sun Dec 02, 2012 3:03 pm

Tightwad wrote:I agree with what DH is saying here but I will add one caveat to this. Hard pulls are sometimes legit even if you did not apply for a loan, credit, insurance, etc recently but you do have an on going financial relationship with the company doing the credit check. For example, a bank might do an annual file review (including a hard credit pull) if you have an active HELOC at their bank. The loan may have been taken out 5 years ago but somewhere in the fine print that you signed gives them the authority to do so regardless of how old the loan is.


Right. If you have an active loan, especially revolving then you probably authorized an annual hard pull. If you apply for insurance you might also be required to authorize a hard pull. I'm just saying that it is illegal to do one without your permission so if you read everything carefully and understand the process, there should be no surprises.


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