Questions to Ask: Choosing an Insurance Agent

Posted on December 8, 2011. Filed under: Commercial | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Have you ever used the “eenie, meenie, miney, mo” method to locate an insurance agent? Or, maybe you look for the agent with the biggest ad in the yellow pages? With all the quoting sites available online, it’s easy to find low rates. But, how can you be sure those rates are attached to adequate coverage and superior service?

Insurance protects your most important assets, which makes it worth the effort it takes to find an experienced, independent agent. Here are some things you should know:

  • The insurance companies to which the company has access. Independent agents, who have access to multiple insurance companies, have the ability to look for the best policies to meet your unique needs at the best value.
  • How much time the agent will spend helping you assess your insurance needs. Insurance is a complex matter. It is not a “one size fits all” product. It takes time to fully assess your unique coverage needs.
  • Whether the agent reads AND understands the policies they offer.
  • If the agency specializes in insuring a particular type of business or line of insurance. For example: businesses that require insurance including professional liability insurance such as real estate agents, accountants, doctors, contractors, or computer programmers or technology related operations, etc.
  • If this was a referral, did it come from someone you trust and respect? Find out what their experience with the agent was like. The things other people desire and want may not be the same things that you want in a professional service provider.
  • Whether the agency can address all of your insurance needs, from home and auto, to life, health, disability, and commercial.
  • Ask who will handle your account on a daily basis. Is it someone who is licensed in insurance, and can provide advice as you communicate with that office, or an order taker?
  • What the agency’s hours of operation are, including their availability after hours, as well as the average time it takes to respond to client requests.
  • What involvement the agent has in the claims process. Understand how claims are tracked and the role the agent takes in the resolution of disputes.
  • Whether the agent is proactive in periodically reviewing your policies and shopping coverages for you.
  • If the agent is involved in their community. An agent’s active involvement in their community may translate into a greater commitment to his or her customers.

Choosing the best independent insurance agent for your needs takes an investment of time on your part. But the interests they will be helping you protect are certainly worth it, don’t you think?

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Fun in the Sun

Posted on February 21, 2011. Filed under: Personal (Home & Auto) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Warm weather often arrives early in Central Texas, which for many means it’s time to bring the watercraft out of storage! It’s vitally important that your insurance agent know about the watercraft you own, to ensure you have appropriate and adequate coverage. You should also understand your coverage prior to renting boats or other watercraft. Did you know whether a boat or jet ski is inboard or outboard may impact how it is covered by, or excluded from, a homeowner’s policy? For more information, or for quotes, contact us.

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Don’t Blog Yourself into a Lawsuit!

Posted on December 15, 2010. Filed under: Personal (Home & Auto) | Tags: , , , , , |

The Internet is a fascinating place that is opening up new forms of social interaction, activities, and organization of information. Social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace are creating revolutionary ways to interact with people all over the world. In addition, websites such as Amazon, Yelp, and Angie’s List allow people to post online reviews of businesses of all types. The explosive growth in these types of activities in the last few years is truly amazing.

These undertakings, however, have a dangerous element. Blogs and postings of a negative nature (even if they are true) can result in unpleasant and costly lawsuits against the author. Note that it may still take time before there is a good body of caselaw to support freedom of speech online in blogs, forums, and social media publishing sites. And remember that freedom of speech does not mean you can say anything you want anywhere. Freedom of speech implies responsibility; its use should generally be for the benefit of the greater good. So the following are some risk management tips to consider before posting or blogging negative comments on the Internet.

  • Check your facts carefully and thoroughly document your sources. Truth is a complete defense in a libel case, although you still may run into expensive legal bills defending yourself. If you find that your facts are incorrect, remove the inaccurate content and consider issuing a correction or retraction.
  • If you purchase a product online and have an unpleasant experience with the seller, it might be wise not to post a negative comment or rating on the website. If you do post an adverse comment, be sure that it is objectively written, based on solid facts concerning your own direct experience, and not written in an inflammatory manner.
  • If you are a blog master and someone is posting false and incendiary statements on your site, remember that you may be held liable for these remarks since you are the “publisher.”
  • Seek protection for your rights. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, has a mission to safeguard the rights of those who use digital media and to provide legal guides to bloggers both large and small. It also offers helpful ideas to those bloggers and online posters to avoid libel suits.
  • Make certain your homeowners policy includes a personal injury endorsement to cover libel and slander suits. Most standard insurance company policy forms do not provide this automatically, and it can be added for a small additional premium. Also, consider buying a personal umbrella policy, which generally provides broader personal injury coverage.
  • If your blog is a money-maker, look into business liability coverage since the typical homeowners policy contains numerous business-related exclusions and restrictions. If you operate a small home-based business in conjunction with your blog or online business, consider requesting that a home-based business endorsement be added to your homeowners policy.

Get more personal lines insurance and risk management tips and ideas from IRMI.

Copyright 2010
International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

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Is Umbrella Insurance for You?

Posted on December 10, 2010. Filed under: Personal (Home & Auto) | Tags: , , , , , |

To help you answer the question above, it is important to understand what Umbrella Insurance is and the potential impact of not having this protective tool covering your life and family.

Personal Umbrella is a low-cost insurance policy that provides liability coverage beyond your home and auto policies. It includes coverages that may not be included in your home policy such as libel and slander.

Consider the following scenario. You are on a golfing outing with some friends. The weather is nice and the birds are singing. Caught up in the moment, you fall behind your pals who are marching up onto the 10th green. You are driving the cart and are hurrying to catch up when you hit a pedestrian who steps in front of you unexpectedly from the side of the cart path. The collision leaves the pedestrian paralyzed. Now you are being sued for $3,200,000 and you only have $300,000 worth of liability insurance on your homeowners policy.

Where will you come up with the money? A $5,000,000 Personal Umbrella policy can protect you. With Personal Umbrella coverage, a little money goes a long way. The answer to our question? YES, seriously consider it!

Contact us today for your FREE quote. We are located in Austin and licensed in Texas.

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