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6 Traits to Look For When Choosing an Insurance Provider

Posted by on Sep 13, 2018 in Insurance Providers | Comments Off on 6 Traits to Look For When Choosing an Insurance Provider

6 Traits to Look For When Choosing an Insurance Provider

Insurance is a necessity in today’s world. One car accident, fire, or other disaster could leave you paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, legal fees, or hospital bills. Because of this critical need to protect yourself, your family, and your assets, you’ll want to select a great insurance plan.

With so many insurance providers on the market, however, selecting one can be difficult. If you choose the wrong company, you might have to deal with endless claim headaches, misunderstood policies, or much worse. To save yourself this hassle, you should put time and effort into researching your potential insurance provider before purchasing a policy.

6 traits to look for in an insurance provider

Research is easy now thanks to the internet. Head online to check out your provider’s reviews, online ratings, and product selections to get a better feel for their service and see if they may be the right fit for you. While you’re browsing your options, look for these six must-have traits:

  1. Proper licensure in your state — Governments regulate insurance at the state level, so you should always purchase a policy from a provider who is licensed in your state. Not only can this ensure that you get help from your state’s government if you run into an issue but it can also show you that the company is more likely to follow rules and regulations.
  2. History of success and stability — You rely on your insurance company to pay out when you file a claim. If the company is not financially stable, you could run into trouble monetarily. Check your potential provider’s history to make sure they have been successful over the years. Additionally, check online ratings services to get an idea of how financially stable the company is right now.
  3. Good service reliability — Nobody wants to deal with a company that offers poor customer service. You need your insurance provider to answer your questions quickly and lay out your policies clearly to make claims easier. Look for company reviews to determine how good their customer service is.
  4. Competitive price offering — Insurance companies offer all different levels of pricing to customers. Don’t jump at the first one that catches your eye. Get quotes from different companies to compare them and go with the one that offers a low but competitive price.
  5. Claims made easy — When you submit a claim against your insurance policy, you want it to go through quickly and smoothly. After all, that’s what insurance is for. A provider who gives customers hassles every time they submit a claim is one to avoid.
  6. Comprehensive product selection — The insurance provider you choose should offer numerous types of insurance options so you can get all the coverage you need in one place from one trustworthy provider. Your provider should also know the legal aspects of each policy well and be able to recommend particular products and services individually to you and your family members.

You shouldn’t have to settle for a sub-par insurance provider. With so many options available on the market, taking the time to do thorough research will help lead you to an insurance provider who not only follows the rules but can also offer good pricing, a wide array of products, and top-notch customer service.

Looking for a reliable insurance provider you can trust for years to come? Contact a Concklin Insurance expert today to better understand your policies and ensure you have the insurance coverage you need.

 

What’s the Difference Between ‘Replacement Cost’ and ‘Actual Cash Value’ Insurance Policies?

Posted by on Aug 30, 2018 in Business Insurance, Franchise Insurance, Personal Insurance | Comments Off on What’s the Difference Between ‘Replacement Cost’ and ‘Actual Cash Value’ Insurance Policies?

What’s the Difference Between ‘Replacement Cost’ and ‘Actual Cash Value’ Insurance Policies?

The worst has happened: Someone stole your car and stripped it to pieces! Now, all you’ve got left are fond memories of your slick ride and an insurance policy claim to file. All you want to do is put this whole ordeal behind you, buy a new car, and never look back. But will your insurance payout cover the cost of that same car? Understanding “replacement cost” versus “actual cash value” when it comes to your policies is important.

Replacement cost

Replacement cost policies will pay out the cost necessary for a direct replacement of the item covered. So, for example, if your vehicle was a 2019 Dodge Charger, the policy would pay out whatever costs you would incur to get that same vehicle back in your driveway.

Here’s why replacement cost matters. Let’s say you just bought your 2019 Dodge Charger a few weeks ago, fully loaded and brand new. You might have paid $40,000 for it at the dealership, but as soon as you rolled it off the lot it became a “used car” with a value of just $34,000. If your insurance company were to pay out the actual cash value of the car — what someone else would pay for your used car — you’d end up about $6,000 shy of being able to buy a brand-new Dodge Charger. It’s a disappointing prospect to consider.

With replacement cost policies, there’s no deduction for depreciation, which can give you peace of mind when it comes to making investments that may lose value with time, even if you keep them in great condition.

Actual cash value

Actual cash value policies use a different benchmark for determining what your item is worth. Rather than compare it to a new version of the same item, actual cash value policies consider things like condition, demand, and depreciation.

For example, if your car was a 2007 Dodge Charger, it won’t have the same value as a 2019 model or even other more gently used 2007 models. In this case, your insurer would have to make considerations regarding the car’s market value. An insurance company might look at variables such as:

  • Records of damages or repairs
  • Vehicle condition
  • Last recorded mileage
  • Modifications or updates

In this way, the actual cash value payout from your policy could vary greatly. If your car had low mileage and a stellar maintenance record, its value might be higher than if it had an accident on record, high mileage, and rust. To put things in even more perspective, Kelly Blue Book lists the fair market range of a 2007 Dodge Charger between $4,450 and $5,809. A swing of nearly $1,400 could definitely impact your ability to replace your car.

Making the right policy choice

All this information begs the question: Which policy is right for you and your items? The answer really depends on what you’re insuring. As a rule of thumb, items subject to depreciation generally favor replacement cost policies while items with a relatively fixed cost or strong market value benefit from actual cash value policies.

It behooves you to think about the costs you’d be facing if anything were to happen to your property and ask yourself, “How much would I have to pay to replace this?” It’s also a smart idea to ask your insurance agent to help you understand each policy in the context of the items you’re looking to insure, whether it’s a car, painting, jewelry, or another valuable item.

Contact a Concklin Insurance expert today to better understand your policies and ensure you have the insurance coverage you need.

Vehicle Telematics: Myths, Facts, and Benefits Every Driver Should Know

Posted by on Aug 16, 2018 in Personal Insurance | Comments Off on Vehicle Telematics: Myths, Facts, and Benefits Every Driver Should Know

Vehicle Telematics: Myths, Facts, and Benefits Every Driver Should Know

Insurance companies have used vehicle telematics for about two decades now as a way to bring more transparency and accountability to auto policyholders. Telematics are most commonly associated with the little modules that plug into your car’s Onboard Diagnostics Port (OBD-II), which relay driving data to insurance providers. Today, many insurance companies offer plug-and-play solutions and even apps that eliminate the need for modules altogether.

Common misconceptions

Unfortunately, this technology has been met with a lot of confusion, and drivers have developed a number of widespread misconceptions. Some people might not quite understand how telematics function, so they make comparisons to other technologies that just aren’t accurate. Here are a few of the most common myths:

  • They track your every movement. Telematics and GPS aren’t the same, which means your vehicle module isn’t tracking your whereabouts. Instead of monitoring positioning and movement like a GPS tracker would, a telematics module is collecting information such as speed, fuel economy, vehicle condition, airbag deployment, and more.
  • They void your warranty and cause problems. Telematics modules will not void your warranty or cause problems for your vehicle in any way. Plugging one in doesn’t constitute tampering with or modifying your vehicle, and the sensors your insurance company provides are approved for use by automakers, as long as they meet OBD-II standards.
  • Using telematics means your insurance company doesn’t trust you. There’s no question of trust when it comes to telematics. Most telematics programs are opt-in and used primarily for gleaning data from large groups of customers as a way to write better policies in the future.

With these common myths and misconceptions out of the way, it’s important to look at how vehicle telematics actually work and how the data they provide can benefit both drivers and insurance providers.

How does it work and who benefits?

As mentioned, vehicle telematics are concerned with collecting data about policyholders’ driving habits. Each insurance company tracks its own proprietary data. However, most are concerned with the variables that impact how likely you are to be in an accident. Some data points include:

  • How long people drive in a single instance, how far they drive, and how fast — or slow — they drive
  • The number of times drivers brake hard or engage anti-lock brakes, or when vehicles automatically trigger smart braking systems
  • When airbags deploy or when vehicles register impacts that may not deploy airbags
  • How long service lights remain on before drivers fix the problems

These data points all yield insights into driving habits. For example, if your telematics module registers lots of hard braking and abrupt stops, it may be a sign of inattentive driving. Likewise, traveling from one destination to another at a fast pace could suggest a tendency to speed.

All of this sounds like a way to penalize you, the driver — but, in fact, giving your insurance company this information is a good thing! For starters, if you’re already a good driver, it could result in lower monthly rates. Or, if you have bad habits, your insurance company can make you aware of them so you have the ability to lower your rates in the future.

Most insurers focus on the big picture: creating better policies. Combined with data from other drivers like you, telematics could be responsible for lower rates or fairer terms on future policies. Vehicle telematics create accountability for drivers and transparency for insurers.

Contact a Concklin Insurance expert today to better understand your policies and ensure you have the insurance coverage you need.

Homeowners Insurance Summer Vacation Checklist

Posted by on Jul 19, 2018 in Personal Insurance | Comments Off on Homeowners Insurance Summer Vacation Checklist

Homeowners Insurance Summer Vacation Checklist

You’ve checked your auto and travel insurance policies and know you’re covered while on vacation, but what about the home you’ll be leaving behind? Burst pipes, broken appliances, and burglaries are easy potential hazards for those excited about upcoming trips to forget about. Fortunately, they’re easy to prevent, and this checklist can help make such prevention easier.

Use these simple tips to keep your property safe while you’re away.

  1. Don’t advertise your absence.
    Nothing says “Nobody’s home!” like a heap of newspapers and unopened mail on the front porch, an unmowed lawn, and social media posts that specify travel plans.

    • Place a hold mail order with the U.S. Postal Service. It typically takes less than five minutes. Your local office can withhold mail while you travel, and your mail carrier can deliver your held mail in a bundle the day you return with no added fees.
    • Put your newspaper delivery on hold if you have a subscription.
    • If you’ll receive packages from other delivery services, ask a friend or neighbor to collect them in your absence.
    • Arrange for someone to mow your lawn if you’ll be gone for an extended period of time.
    • Be discrete with social media. Would you indiscriminately send out fliers telling people you’ll be out of town? Social media can do just that, so avoid advertising your travel plans.

  1. Use home security hardware and apps.
    A few simple home accessories can also help reduce risks, and some insurance policies even offer reduced rates for these added security measures.

    • Install motion-activated floodlights. Many options are available — even those that don’t require additional wiring.
    • Secure sliding glass doors with physical barriers instead of relying solely on the typically flimsy locks. Such entries are common sites for break-ins.
    • 34% of burglars waltz in through the front door, so protect yours with a sturdy hardened-steel deadbolt. It’s also prudent to consider upgrading the locks on your windows and other exterior doors, such as those attached to the garage.
    • If you want to be more connected, many home security devices are available. You can control most from virtually anywhere via a smartphone app, allowing you to turn lights on and off, authorize home access to neighbors or caretakers, and alert you to smoke or heightened carbon monoxide levels. Some apps even allow you to view your home in real time.

If you’re on the fence about any of these due to their cost, review your homeowners insurance policy or speak to your agent about potential incentives.

  1. Attend to appliances and other possible hazards.
    Some tips are more about saving money than managing risks. The following suggestions include a sprinkling of both.

    • Set your water heater on “vacation” mode or turn it off to reduce utility bills while you’re away.
    • Unplug small appliances as they tend to draw electricity when not in use and may pose fire risks.
    • Give a neighbor a spare key for extenuating circumstances like burst pipes.
    • Keep the bedroom, bathroom, and closet doors open to keep air circulating. For short trips, leaving a ceiling fan on in the reverse setting can also help keep air cool and fresh.

The importance of the above precautions varies based on the climate you live in, the layout of your home, and your neighborhood. Whatever your circumstances, a little extra thought can go a long way toward ensuring peace of mind!

Contact a Concklin Insurance expert today to better understand your policies and ensure you have the insurance coverage you need.

Home-Sharing Services: Do You or Those Who Rent Your Home Need Insurance Coverage?

Posted by on Jul 5, 2018 in Personal Insurance | Comments Off on Home-Sharing Services: Do You or Those Who Rent Your Home Need Insurance Coverage?

Home-Sharing Services: Do You or Those Who Rent Your Home Need Insurance Coverage?

The sharing economy has brought about business model innovations, allowing people to monetize underutilized assets including cars, storage space, gear, and living space by renting them out. While this can create exciting opportunities, it can also present risks — particularly when it comes to home sharing. Having the proper insurance can help reduce those risks.

Home sharing

In today’s economy, home sharing typically involves short-term rental arrangements in which homeowners provide places for guests through platforms such as Airbnb or HomeAway. It can be a great way for those with underutilized homes to generate extra income and for guests to stay in convenient locations at reasonable prices. However, those without proper insurance coverage could find themselves in tighter spots than they bargained for.

Innovations like insurance and endorsements have made home sharing more convenient and less risky for all parties involved. Whether you participate in home sharing as a homeowner who hosts others or as a guest at a host’s home, be sure you understand how to protect yourself. Here’s what you need to know.

House Keys

Hosts

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), homeowners insurance policies typically allow policyholders to house borders on occasion — but “occasion” is subject to interpretation. Home sharers may also need more extensive personal liability insurance than typical homeowners policies provide. For added protection, landlord policies can help cover homeowners against risks including property damage, personal injury, legal fees, and lost rental income.

No matter the hosting frequency, however, listing a property on a home-sharing platform could result in the property being legally defined as a home-based business, which homeowners insurance policies usually exclude. In response to the sharing economy, some insurers have introduced endorsements and new policies. It’s no longer necessary for many homeowners who use sharing platforms to buy commercial insurance, which is costlier than special home-sharing policies.

Regardless of the coverage home-sharing services themselves offer, many platforms invoke dispute-resolution processes if guests cause damage to home sharers’ property. Hosts can receive reimbursements from these services via checks in the mail, and the home-sharing services’ insurance companies subrogate against responsible parties, sparing hosts time, frustration, and claim filing.

Even with these protections in place, however, and even if you’re renting your home to guests only a few days a year, it’s worthwhile to discuss such an arrangement with your insurance agent to mitigate risk.

Guests

Those who use home-sharing services as guests also have a few things to consider. Guests injured at short-term rental properties may be responsible for their own medical expenses if the companies they book their rentals through or their hosts don’t offer medical payment coverage. Similarly, guests who inadvertently damage their hosts’ property may have to pay out of pocket if their own homeowners, renters, or personal liability insurance policies don’t extend to cover their short-term rental occupancies.

How much could they be on the hook for? Homeowners policies commonly provide up to $1,000 in liability coverage for damage policyholders cause to other people’s property. Some guests might feel comfortable with that level of coverage, but others prefer to be better prepared in the case something were to go awry — even through no fault of their own — while they’re renting others’ homes.

To protect yourself, check with home-sharing companies before booking to see what liability coverage they require on their hosts’ properties. It’s also a good idea to speak with your insurance agent to verify your coverage levels and ask about options for increasing your coverage if necessary.

While home sharing can be a profitable and convenient opportunity for many homeowners and short-term renters, it’s a new industry for which some insurers are still working out some kinks. If you decide to try it out as a host or guest, a wise first step is to talk with your insurance provider.

Contact a Concklin Insurance expert today to better understand your policies and ensure you have the insurance coverage you need.