Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trusted Choice Reprint: Am I overpaying?

Insurance: The One Question Everyone Asks

“Am I overpaying?”

That’s a question that every consumer asks from time to time. Everyone is curious and concerned as to whether he or she is getting a good value for the money, whether it’s for a candy bar, a car or an airline ticket.

It’s a good question to ask about insurance, too. After all, Americans spend a lot of money on insurance for homes, autos and businesses. In 2008, American drivers spent $161 billion for personal automobile insurance, reported the A.M. Best Co., an insurance research and ratings firm.

This large market for auto insurance is highly competitive. Consumers play a large part in keeping insurance rates competitive by virtue of shopping—whether online, by telephone or on the World Wide Web. More than one of four (about 28 percent) of auto insurance buyers shopped around for car insurance in 2009, reported J.D. Power & Associates in its 2009 national auto insurance study.

But consumers aren’t the only ones shopping around for auto insurance. So too do independent insurance agents, including Trusted Choice® insurance professionals.

On average, Trusted Choice® agents provide consumers with property/casualty insurance options from eight different insurance carriers, reported the 2008 agency universe study conducted by Future One, a collaboration of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (the Big “I”) and leading independent agency companies. For automobile insurance, those agents may compare rates and coverages at even more insurance companies, through their use of software that allows them to compare multiple policies and multiple carriers.

For auto insurance buyers, research showed that independent agents rank most highly on the most important element of customer satisfaction. The J.D. Power study measures customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies across five factors (in order of importance): interaction, policy offerings, billing and payment, price and claims. Insurers who sell their auto insurance products through agents performed “stronger in the interaction factor than do direct insurers,” reported J.D. Power.

Overall, customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies reached a five-year high in 2009, reported the J.D. Power study. The biggest improvement in satisfaction among the five factors has been in price. Interestingly, 42 percent of customers in 2009 reported that their auto insurance premiums declined without switching insurers.

Are you overpaying for auto insurance? Thanks to a competitive market that includes Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents, the answer probably is no. If you’re not sure, ask a Trusted Choice® agency to review your options.

source: TrustedChoice.com, October 2009

Reprint: Concerned About Uninsured Drivers?

Concerned About Uninsured Drivers? There Are Ways to Protect Yourself
October 19, 2009
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Is Optional In Most U.S. States

INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500; media@iii.org
Washington Press Office: (202) 833-1580


NEW YORK, October 19, 2009 — One driver out of every seven in the U.S. is believed to have no auto insurance and that has broad repercussions for the 86 percent of drivers who do, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)

“Most people don’t think about the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage portion of their auto insurance policy until they are the victim of a hit and run accident, or are involved in a crash with a driver who either does not have auto insurance or has very minimal insurance,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I.

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage will reimburse you, a member of your family, or a designated driver for bodily injuries caused by a hit-and-run driver or an uninsured motorist. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage comes into play when an at-fault driver has insufficient insurance to pay for your total loss. UIM coverage will also protect you if you are hit by a car as a pedestrian.

In a January 2009 study, the Insurance Research Council estimated that 14 percent of all drivers in the U.S. were uninsured in 2007, but found substantial variation among the states. The states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists were New Mexico (29 percent), Mississippi (28 percent) and Alabama (24 percent). The states with the lowest percentage of uninsured drivers in 2007 were Massachusetts (1 percent), Maine (4 percent) and New York and North Dakota (5 percent each).

While auto insurance policies with both UM and UIM coverage are available nationwide, these are optional coverages in a majority of states.

Carrying UM coverage is required by law in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The states are: Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia. The price of uninsured motorist coverage varies considerably from state to state, depending in part on the percentage of drivers who are uninsured.

Only five of the states that insist their drivers carry UM coverage also mandate the purchase of UIM coverage; they are: Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina and Vermont.

There are some other ways drivers can receive protection. No-fault insurance laws, which are in effect in 12 states and Puerto Rico, provide some relief from uninsured motorists because accident victims are generally able to collect benefits from their own insurance companies, regardless of whether the other party has insurance coverage. Nevertheless, even if you live in a no-fault state, UM/UIM coverage is a cost-effective purchase because the policy provision provides an additional layer of financial protection.

Moreover, if you are in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist and you do not have UM coverage, your health insurance policy will usually pay medical bills related to that car accident. However, your health insurance will not pay for lost wages if you miss work, nor will a health insurance company seek redress for pain and suffering resulting from the crash. Lost wages and pain and suffering are paid for by the liability portion of the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. But, if the at-fault driver has no or little coverage, the victim’s UM or UIM policy provisions are accessed.

Every state, with the exception of New Hampshire and Wisconsin, requires its licensed drivers to purchase an auto insurance policy; Wisconsin has enacted a law that will mandate the purchase of an auto insurance policy in June 2010.

The IRC found the states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists two years ago were New Mexico (29 percent), Mississippi (28 percent) and Alabama (24 percent). The states with the lowest percentage of uninsured drivers in 2007 were Massachusetts (1 percent), Maine (4 percent) and New York and North Dakota (5 percent).

For additional information, go to Facts and Statistics: Uninsured Motorists.

For a related audio file, go to Drivers Should Obtain Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage to Protect Themselves Financially.



HE I.I.I. IS A NONPROFIT, COMMUNICATIONS ORGANIZATION SUPPORTED BY THE PROPERTY/CASUALTY INSURANCE INDUSTRY.

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6119 Ridgeview CT #500, Reno, NV 89519, 775-284-8200 or kevin@ardentinsurance.com., United States
http://www.ardentinsurance.com College BS in Business Administration (University of Nevada, Reno) 1987. Independent Farmers Insurance Agent 1987-1997; Part time financial sales positions 1997-1999; Co-founder and President of ClientFlex Corporation 1999-2004; Lucini/Parish Insurance 2004-2005; Co-founded (with Tammy Brunson) Ardent Insurance LLC (2005-2007); Changed entity to Ardent Insurance Inc (2006-present). Insurance Designations: LUTCF. Insurance Affiliations: Big I (Independent Insurance Agents of America); Trusted Choice Approved Agency; Professional Insurance Associates, Inc. (Affiliate); Local Business Associations: Northern Nevada Insurance Agents - Member; Community Associations: Northern Nevada Endurance Training - Active Member.