In the first two installments we have talked about what types of insurance you need to have and what types you may want to avoid. So now that you know what coverage you need, how do you find the best deals without sacrificing quality of service or coverage?
One of the most useful tools for finding quotes on insurance is the internet. Most large insurance companies offer online quotes, and at the very least a lot of information regarding their various policies. When using the internet to find price quotes, be careful you are using real company websites and avoid entering personal information into sites that you’ve never heard of or saw in your local classified ads or late night infomercial. Keep in mind, if you give pieces of information such as your phone number, expect a phone call from an agent to discuss your quote in more detail.
If you aren’t comfortable with the internet you still have other options. Start with the yellow pages in your phone book. It will be littered with insurance ads and agents, and can be quite overwhelming. Start simple and look for companies you are familiar with. Most of the time if you give them a call they will be happy to provide you with a quote or additional information about their policies.
Now that you have gathered some quotes, you’re probably looking for the best deal right? Well, be careful. With insurance price is hardly what makes your policy the best deal. If a price seems too good, it is possible it is. One thing you may want to check are the insurer’s ratings with A.M. Best or Standard & Poor’s. You generally want to stick with high-rated insurers. Another thing to look at is whether or not your potential insurer is involved in any regulatory disputes or had any major lawsuits in recent years. A good resource for this is Insure.com.
Finally, when it comes to choosing an insurer, do you need an agent? This is similar to the question of whether or not you need a financial advisor. You can certainly get policies without an agent, either online or by phone, but consider the option carefully. Insurance can be tricky business, especially when you get into life and disability policies. Since these areas are more confusing to consumers, it is also the area where agents can pressure people into unsuitable products. So if you do choose to work with a local agent, please take some time to educate yourself on the basics of the insurance you are shopping for so you aren’t persuaded into something you may not need.
I personally like having an agent for our home/auto insurance which is through the same company. It is nice to have someone to talk to when it comes to insuring something as important as your home, and by working with him he has provided us with multiple discounts on our auto insurance as well as other valuables such as jewelry.
That concludes the series, and hopefully you are now armed with the information and resources needed to make purchasing your next insurance policy a painless one, and hopefully save you some money as well.
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Filed Under: Insurance
About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.