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Why not have the best?

Many insurance companies tell you in commercials about how they all have the best price. They let you know how much money they can save you on a regular basis. However, it’s easy to offer low rates when you strip out many of the optional coverages included in most home and auto policies. This way, when you have a claim and your insurance company has locked you in to their policy with their low rates, they get to pay less money out to you because they’ve not given you the additional coverages that many other insurers would include. So you’re stuck coming out-of-pocket because you’ve bought a bare bones policy from one of the largest insurance companies around because you thought their size meant they cared about their clients. Sorry ’bout that.

Then on the other hand you have MetLife. Their Grand Protect package blows away any other carriers in a comparison of included coverages. It includes a blanket property limit equal to 100% of your dwelling. It includes full replacement cost on new cars in the first 12 months. So if you total a brand new car five minutes after you drive off the lot, you get the full sticker price paid back to you without any depreciation. For a list of coverages included in the Grand Protect, just click on the link below. While the policy is loaded with great coverages, the premium is very competitive. So give us a call for a quote at 770-433-0318 to upgrade your coverage and leave your bare bones policies behind.

http://bippermedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Grand-Protect.pdf

 

Make Sure Your Home is Insured at the Correct Value

Since My House is Worth Less Now Can I Lower My Home Insurance?

I get asked this all the time by clients. The answer is NO. What someone will pay to buy your home has nothing at all to do with the replacement cost of your home. The replacement cost is merely the amount it would cost to remove the pile of debris left in the event of a total loss and rebuild a new home to the same specifications. It has no bearing that your home may have been worth $500,000 on the real estate market several years ago and now is only worth $200,000. If you think your home may be over or under insured, please give us a call at 770-433-0318. You don’t have to be a client for us to run your home’s info in our replacement cost estimator. This will determine the replacement cost of your home and make sure you are appropriately insured. Have a great day.

Will my car insurance pay to replace my cracked windshield?

Windshield repair and replacement are two questions we get asked a lot about. So I want to explain how this coverage works so you’ll understand it. First, windshield replacement should always be covered under your comprehensive coverage. However, your deductible will always apply. So, if your comprehensive deductible is $1000, $500 or $250, then most likely there is no reason to file a claim. If your comprehensive deductive is $100, then you can pay $100 and your insurer will pay the difference in the event of a covered glass claim. Also know many carriers sell a “full glass replacement” coverage with comprehensive. While it think it’s a little pricey and do not recommend it, the coverage is available to cover all glass claims.

Windshield repair coverages are different company to company. With this, most carriers will pay to repair any windshield dings. However, remember to ask your agent or your carrier because this is a benefit that is not offered by all insurers. Anyway, see below for a few bullet points……..

  • Generally, most damage to any of the glass in your vehicle is covered under your comprehensive benefits. That means that if you don’t have comprehensive, you most likely will have no coverage for glass damage.
  • If you have a claim for glass damage, and that damage totals less then your deductible, then you most likely will be paying the cost of the replacement out of your own pocket. Remember that deductibles are per incident, so you need to have deductibles that reflect the amount you can reasonably afford to self-insure.
  • Some insurers offer no deductible coverage for windshield repair. It’s important to note that this is for repair only, not windshield replacement. Windshield repair can generally occur when your windshield has only small cracks no more than 6 inches in length and not in the area that impacts the driver’s direct line of vision.
  • Some auto insurers offer supplemental coverage under called full glass benefits. Depending on the insurer, this separate coverage for window glass repair or replacement may come with no deductible, which makes it a great addition to comprehensive coverage.
  • Many insurers have their own glass repair and replacement shops that they use. Your insurer may require you to use their vendors in order to get maximum insurance benefits. Many of these vendors also include windshield sticker transference and interior glass clean up in their services and may have pre-approval status preventing you from needing to file a claim.

If you have questions about your glass coverage or a claim, give us a call at 770-433-0318.

Claim-Free Chicken. A Recipe to Insure, For Sure!

Actually, after you make this chicken you may file a claim for appetite happiness! At Citywide Insurance, we want you to not only learn how to purchase insurance, but also live a healthy lifestyle. So from time to time, we’ll publish some of our healthiest recipes. Our first recipe is Claim-Free Chicken. This is a real healthy crowd pleaser that’s sure to leave everyone wanting to kiss the cook!

Ingredients:

Skinless, organic drumsticks. These are very affordable and can be purchased at any of the major grocers.

Sugar-free, whole-grain cereal flakes

Smoked Paprika

Salt

Pepper

1 egg

Directions:

1. Preheat over to 450 F.

2. Pour cereal flakes in a bag and crush to an even consistency.

3. Add salt, pepper and smoked paprika to your liking.

4. Beat egg. Then coat each drumstick in the egg and then shake drumstick in bag until well-covered in cereal flake mixture.

5. Once all your drumsticks are coated and covered, bake for 25-30 minutes. This bake time will vary from oven to oven so keep an eye on your claim-free chicken. You don’t want it to burn.

6. Lastly, if you want, make you some healthy dipping sauce. I like to mix spicy mustard and No Fat Greek Yogurt. While this isn’t as good as Creamy Blue Cheese or the like, it’s also not nearly as fattening and it also provides a creamy compliment to the crunchy chicken.

7. Lastly, enjoy the fact that your meal is healthy and your chicken is claim-free!

How to Shop for Home Insurance

Today when you turn on your TV, you could see a hundred car insurance commercials over the course of a week. Many of the companies sell their policies online. This in turn generally lowers the premium 12%-15% because the agent is cut out. It’s generally a pretty easy to do as well. You get your current policy, match up the coverages, compare the price, and buy the new policy if you so desire. However, many carriers also sell homeowners insurance online. This is a horse of a different color though and I want to alert you to a few reasons why you really want to speak to an agent concerning this so you don’t make a huge mistake.

First, you need to know what you are buying. If you get a quote online and get a basic H03 policy with ACV your premium will be significantly lower than an all-risk peril policy with replacement cost. Also, when you have a claim you’ll be left out in the rain much more than the guy without flood insurance in those commercials as you’ll be compensated for much less than what you loss. While basic, broad and special policies are easy to understand, that’s something to research on your own and the purpose of this post is not to define each policy. It is merely to let you know why you want to talk to an agent and at that point let the agent clearly explain each policy.

Another reason is included coverages. Does your current home policy cover water back-up? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Most every home policy does NOT cover water backup damage. However, it can easily be endorsed on and should be endorsed on. Our agency will not sell a policy without water backup coverage. While that is a very important coverage to have, there are many other as well. Is your $10,000 wedding ring covered? Most likely not if you don’t schedule it. How do you do that? Talk to an agent and they can easily do that for you.

What about one company that offers a lot of hidden value in their coverages compared to other carriers that merely sell a bare bones policy, but can offer all other coverages at a cost? While I will not bog you down in semantics, I do want you to understand what I’m trying to get across. Let’s take the MetLife Grand Protect policy. In my opinion, and in the opinion of every other agent I’ve ever spoken with that sells this policy, there is not a better, more comprehensive policy as far as included coverages in the world. It’s sold in a package with its auto coverage and is the model for how you take care of your customers and cover their assets appropriately. However, I’ve had many people tell me after I’ve quoted them that they were going with another carrier because that carrier was $200 a year cheaper. Then I give them a list of all the MetLife coverages listed out on a comparison page. I ask them to give that to the agent they’re going to use and ask them to go down and check off which coverages are included in the quoted premium. Then, ask the agent to quote you a price with all the coverages included. At that point, the price usually goes up about 80% to 120%. That’s when the client realizes they were never getting an apples to apples comparison.

Listen, I don’t want to bore you so let’s wrap this up. It’s great to shop and compare anything online. It’s much more quick and convenient. However, don’t immediately buy it. Do your reasearch. One thing I think that is always good is contact an independent agent. Full disclosure, I am an independent agent. The reason I can help you as opposed to captive agents and direct writers, I represent over 30 companies. I can run quotes with every carrier and then compare included coverage while comparing price at the same time. A captive agent nor direct writer can really only quote one company and compare the coverages and price of their policy with no one else. That’s not really smart shopping.

So do your homework. That way, you’ll make an A. And get appropriately indemnified in the event of a claim.

www.citywide-insurance.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Insurance Rates: What You Need to Know

Home insurance companies in GA have been hurt financially the last several years due to an outbreak of volatile weather. As a result, homeowner rates have gone up and clients are not happy. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot that companies can do other than raise rates as weather patterns look like they’re not going to change anytime soon. So while that is not good news for the consumer, I do what to give you some facts that I got while reading a document issued by the PIA of Georgia.

First, home insurance rates in GA are 13.7% below the national average.

From January 1, 2011 to October 20, 2011 there were 1820 tornadoes in the United States. These storms were so powerful they killed 537 people.

Over the same period of time, there have been 9317 major hail storms.

The last statistic they listed is the number of severe wind claims. Basically, there have been 18,536 wind damage reports filed over the same period.

Through June of 2011, there were over $17 billion in claims associated with catastrophic losses. That’s more through June of last year than all of 2010.

Unfortunately, just like an increase in the price of gas when there’s a supply disruption, insurance rates can increase when there’s a weather disruption. And with all due respect, if you cannot understand there’s been a disruption in weather over the last several years, then you need a lot more help than an insurance agent. So don’t get mad at your insurance agent about things that are out of his or her control. If you think your rate is high, call your agent and ask about ways to lower your premium. Also, if your agent is independent, then he or she can shop the rates around with all of their current carriers.

 

When do I file a claim on my home insurance?

This is a quick post that merely wants you to think about homeowner’s insurance. When you own your home, that entails a lot of responsiblity and a lot expenses. The utilites and upkeep can put dig deep in you pockets over the the years. However, in the event of a minor loss is it prudent to file a claim or pay it out of your pocket? Are you ready for the greatest answer ever? I’m sorry, there is no definite answer. It all depends on your situation at the time of the claim. But first let’s think about a few things we know………

The first things to consider is that life is gonna kick you in the pants every now and then and that “poop happens”. So remember, if someone backs over your sprinkler system and does $1800 of damage is that worth filing a claim for when you have a $1000 deductible and will only get $800? I would say no. But, someone else may file it. However, remember a couple of things about filing claims. First, in almost every instance your rates are going up at your next renewal. Second, if you have two or more claims in a three year period or three or more claims in a five year period then you will problably have an extremely difficult time getting insurance on your home at your next renewal.

I’m not going to go over lots of examples of when you should or should not files claims becaused they would all be based merely on my opinions and not on your current situation. However, I do want to leave you with a little advice. In my opinion, home insurance should be thought of a catastrophe insurance. When your home catches fire, your roof is destryed by hail, or your home is severly damaged by a plane landing on your garage, then I think you should file a claim. When a tree limb falls on your toolshed, a pipe burst and ruins the carpet in your basement, or your wife runs into the back wall of your garage, maybe you should think before you claim these minor inconveniences that life sends your way.

Look, you pay for insurance. And a lot of people resent that when they never use it. So I am not saying to never file a claim. I’m just saying to keep in mind you’ve only got so many claims you can file every two to three years so please make sure they’re worth if. If not, it could cost a lot more down the road.

How to Save Money on Car Insurance, Part Three of Three

by citywideinsurance

What cost you more time, money, and years than raising children? Absolutely nothing! And to make matters worse, once they’re old enough to drive out from under your roof, they start costing you more in the way of auto insurance. Trust me, as an agent I’ve seen the rates for nineteen years now. You think it’s expensive when your first grader wants a Big Wheel, a Hula Hoop, or an Atari Home Entertainment System? Hey, I’m old. Wait til’ those little tots turn sixteen and start clamoring to drive. Once you see your first insurance premium change you’ll know what I’m talking about. And people think bacon gives you heart attacks. Anyway, there are several ways to save money. I just want to highlight a few.

First, never let them drive. This is the cheapest and the safest, but maybe not the most practical.

Next, if your child is one that really is not concerned with driving alone, but merely wants to have the license to show everyone at school how cool they are then get insurance with Progressive. Progressive will add drivers with learner’s permits to your primary policy and not charge one penny for them, as long as they are 18 and under. This is an underwriting rule and can always change. However, they’ve had this rule in place for quite some time and it appears to be going very well. While this may not be ideal for all kids, it does save the parents a lot of money on premium. However, you do want to get multiple quotes before they get their full driver’s license because once they move from permit to license, you will have some serious sticker shock.

The third way is to split policies. If your child is only allowed to drive one vehicle, then get insurance with a company that will exclude drivers, i.e. Mercury, Progressive, etc. This way you can have one vehicle assigned to your young drivers. They will be excluded to drive any other vehicles. The drawback to this is if the child does decide to drive a car and has an accident, then there is no physical damage coverage at all and the liability coverage may be limited. This could be risky because even the most well-behaved children can stray at any time. Whether it be peer pressure or merely poor judgement, we almost all made bad decisions at one point growing up.

Lastly, make you children take a driving class. Whether it be a driving course that’s offered at school, or it’s a defensive driving class through an outside vendor, it is usually well worth the savings. Also, if your child has good grades, don’t forget almost all insurers offer a good student discount. While the good student discount is five or ten percent, the defensive driver discount is generally 20%. This can really offset the cost of the young driver.

Look, young drivers are expensive because they have significantly more accidents than older drivers. That’s why they cost more. And they’re generally going to increase your rates. However, we want to insulate as best we can from the dramatic price increases that make you want to send your high school senior to class every day on a Huffy three-speed.

How to Save Money on Car Insurance, Part Two

First, I want to think everyone for all the kind emails I received regarding the last post. It appears we were able to save at least three people quite a bit of money.  And that is the goal of this blog. Wow! A useful blog. Who woulda thunk it? Anyway, now we get into some nuts and bolts of  insurance rating. That is, how an insurance company determines your rate. I promise it’s a lot different than it use to be. Long ago, your rate was really determined by a handful of criteria, i.e. driver age, marital status, zip code, etc. Nowadays, the data used to determine your rate comes from numerous sources. While no insurance companies I know of will pull your credit report, they will use your credit history in determining your insurance rate. So the better your credit, the better your rate. And vise versa. Now at this point I know you’re sitting there wondering how this minutia could be any more boring. But I must beg for your patience because it’s time to start cracking some eggs of wisdom.

We all know women are considered better drivers than men by actuaries. Actuaries are the people that determine rates. This led many couples to believe that as long as a couple got quoted in the wife’s name, their rate would be less because women were rated lower than men. However, that generally was not the case because insurance companines use the highest rated driver first, second highest rated second, on so on, to determine the rate anyway. So in reality, it would not matter who’s name the policy was in since the higest rated driver was the first person to be rated. Now that has all changed. Now you need to always make sure, if you are a married couple, to have your auto policy (AND YOUR HOME OR RENTERS INSURANCE) quoted in both spouse’s name. The diffence could total hundreds of dollars a year. Let me stress one thing again. Insurance companies do not use your credit score. However, your credit history is a factor. So if one spouse has a better rate, that does not mean that spouse has a better credit score. However, it does mean that the criteria that one company uses gives the lower rate to the spouse with what they consider to be the best credit score. That said, one insurance company’s credit rating system is usually totally different than another. I quoted one homeowner’s policy for the same client and it was $1200 a year with Company A and $3000 with Company B. Everything else was the same other than than their credit rating. Why is so much put into this? Because insurance companies state it is a fact people with higher credit scores file less claims. You can argue why that is all you want but it really makes no difference. The bottom line is peole with higher credit scores file less claims. I know I’m repeating myself but I want everyone to understand the process and why things are done.

Insurance companies use credit data now to determine rates. It does not appear to be changing any time soon. If you are married and you want to get your best rate, then get a quote in both spouse’s name. Unless you’re too rich to care, it could be very well worth your time. You can always call Citywide Insurance for a quote at 770-433-0318.

How to save money on car insurance, Part One of Three

There’s a few things you can do to save money on car insurance. As an agent in GA for the last 18 years and two prior years in the subrogation business, the industry has really changed. However, it’s changed for the better for the consumer. I want to make sure everyone gets the best rate they can. Why? Because the more people that insure their car, the lower insurance rates will be state wide. So first, let’s look at the insurance consumer. There’s two groups of people that drive without insurance. The first group is people that are in financial trouble. Due to short term problems, they cannot afford to carry insurance on their car. While they really want to, insurance is just not part of the budget. However, as soon as they can get back on their feet, they’ll put insurance back on their car. The second group are merely deadbeats. They think insurance is a scam and don’t feel they need to pay for it. The unfortunate thing about the deadbeats is they, as a general rule, are the group that owns the fewest assets and saves next to nothing. So in the event of an accident where they are at-fault, not only do they have no insurance, but they have nothing to sue for. So, you better hope you’re riding with uninsured motorist, which will be a topic for another day.

Now that you know which two types of people are driving uninsured, let’s get an idea of the number. Why? Because once again I want you to understand the dynamics of the business. In GA, about 14% of all cars on the road are uninsured at any given time. That’s about one out of every seven. Remember though, not all of those are deadbeats. So a percentage of those vehicles are rotating in and out of the world of the uninsured. Now that you’ve got a small understanding of what constitutes the 14%, also know that if we could get them insured, your rates would drop about 14% right there. Uninsured drivers inflate everyone’s rates. So the first way to lower your car insurance is to make sure everyone is insured. Since you may not be a cop and you can’t do that, let’s move on to a second way to save.

The second way is easier than chasing down uninsured drivers and impounding their vehicles. The second way is to call around to agents get several quotes. You’re now saying this is common sense. However, let me finish. There are two critical issues here. First, if you can, call an independent agent. If you’re not sure what an independent agent is and how to find one, it’s easy. The two agents you’ll most likely get quoted by are Captive Agents and Independents. The Captive Agents usually represent one insurance company. Let’s say Allstate for example. So, if you call an Allstate agent, you’ll get a quote with Allstate. However, an independent agent will many times represent anywhere from 5 to 35 companies. So, getting a quote with an independent carrier will allow you to get quoted with many companies in one call. Also, the independent companies do not advertise as much on TV. Progressive, Travelers, and MetLife do a lot of advertising for an independent carrier. However, that amount pales in comparison to the large captive carriers. And think about this. Is TV advertising free? If no, how do companies pay for that advertising? By charging higher rates to their customers.

This is not to say never to call a Captive Agent to get a quote. They may have good rates as well and I think you should compare their rates. However, you’re going to get a lot more rates from the independent agent . This will save time and money. The independent carriers with the best rates are generally SafeCo, MetLife, Travelers, Liberty Mutual, Cincinatti Group, Auto Owners and Progressive. There may even be some others that offer good rates. However, these are the companies I know of with great rates, solid reputations, and excellent claim services. Plus, you can get quotes from all of them at once by calling the right agent.

Part two will be here next week and will offer you a tip that could knock 30% off your rate. See you then.

 

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