In this, the year of a not-so-great economy, everyone is looking for new places to save. If you are a homeowner, it behooves you to shop for the best insurance rates. The key to fairly comparing rates from multiple providers? Be sure you’re looking at apples and apples. In both coverages and confidence in the companies.
First step is to call your agent. If you’re interested in truly comparision shopping, call multiple agents who represent different insurance carriers. Or, to save time, consider calling a local independent and full service agency. They are usually most familiar with the housing stock in your neighborhood and they work with many carriers. This provides you with multiple quotes from one conversation.
The agent will likely lead you through a series of questions about your home, it’s contents, it’s safety equipment. Your answers inform appropriate coverage of your property and can provide reduced costs.
Once your quotes are in hand, be sure that the policies would sufficiently cover your loss. Basic policies should cover your home, other buildings on your property, furniture, appliances, your personal belongings and living expenses if you have to live elsewhere during repairs. Consider personal liablility coverage amounts and make sure each policy offers the same, or comparable, valuation clauses. This is either replacement cost or cash value.
If you are comparing new quotes with an existing policy make sure the endorsements – additional insurance coverages you may have added over the years – are the same. This can include all perils coverage or specific perils covered. These can effect the premium amount. Also if your policy is many years old consider any square foot changes or that the original square feet estimation was incorrect.
Once you are confident that the coverage quoted is equal, move on to comparing the carriers and the agents. Ask your agent for each company’s A.M. Best Rating, or visit the A.M to get the information. Remove from consideration any quotes from unstable insurers. During this process pay attention to your interactions with the agents and brokers. Barring any bad luck streaks, you won’t have many conversations with them, but you should feel comfortable calling with questions or concerns at any time. Not just in moments of emergency.
Now it’s time to make a decision. You may be surprised at the competitiveness in the quotes. You may find a way to save money without compromising coverage. If nothing else, you should complete this process confident that you’re covered and with renewed knowledge of the products and services available in homeowners policies.